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View, England, London, Vue d’optique, Westminster Bridge, Thames River, Antique Print


Charles Paul Labelye (1705-1781) (after)
Vuë du superbe Pont de Westmunster sur la Thamise, et d’une partie de la Ville de Londres du côte du Septentrion
[View of the Superb Westminster Bridge over the Thames River, and Part of the City of London from the North Side]

Paris: 3rd Quarter 18th C.
Numbered upper right, “88”
Hand-colored engraving
10.25 x 15.75 inches, platemark
11.75 x 17.75 inches, overall

View of Westminster Bridge over the Thames River in London, with various types of boats in the river. The bridge shown was constructed between 1739 and 1750 and was only the second bridge built across the Thames after London Bridge. The scene shown no longer exists: the bridge was replaced in 1862 and the Palace of Westminster on the right burned down in 1834. The engraving shown here appears to be based on an engraving after Charles Labelye published by Robert Sayer in 1751, in the collection of the City of London’s Guildhall Library (see References below).

Product Description Continues Below


This view is in the general format and size of a vue d’optique — a perspective view produced as a hand-colored print generally intended to be viewed through a convex lens. Vues d’optique often were rendered in high-key color and dramatic linear perspective which enhanced the illusion of three-dimensionality when viewed through the lens, making it seem like the viewer was really there. Thus, they served as a form of visual entertainment. The viewing devices were known variously as zograscopes, optiques, optical machines and peepshows. According to the Getty Research Institute, street performers would set up viewing boxes with a series of prints giving a pictorial tour of famous landmarks, dramatic events and foreign lands. Vues d’optique were also purchased by Grand Tour travelers as souvenirs to be viewed at home as a parlor activity. To cater to this broad audience, the prints often had titles and descriptions in two or more languages. Because the images are reversed in viewing devices, the main titles on some vues d’optique are backwards. Vues d’optique were also hung on walls as decoration.

Charles Paul Labelye was a British artist and engineer.

Condition: Very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Extremely faint scattered pale foxing. Short tear upper margin professionally restored.


“Emperor’s Palace in Beijing.” Devices of Wonder. J. Paul Getty Trust. 2001. (30 September 2002).

“North View of Westminster Bridge with vessels on the River Thames (Item 20203).” Collage, City of London . (4 June 2009).

Additional information


18th Century