Thomas Allom Queen’s Park, Brighton, 1835
56.5 x 91.5cm
Collection of the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
The artist Thomas Allom ( 1804-1872) was an important topographical watercolourist and architectural illustrator and founder member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He worked with the architect Sir Charles Barry in producing perspectives of his buildings including the Houses of Parliament.
• The watercolour, dated 1835, depicts a projected layout of Queen’s Park, possibly by Charles Barry. It is a fascinating view of what might have been, showing a series of detached villas inspired by John Nash’s layout for Regent’s Park and Decimus Burton’s scheme for Calverley Park, Tunbridge Wells. Barry was the architect of one of the villas, Attree Villa, which can be seen at the top centre of the view. Attree Villa, built in 1830 in a pioneering Italianate style, was demolished in 1972, a tragic loss for Brighton. Its water tower, known as ‘the Pepper box’, still survives. The other villas in the view are in a variety of styles, including Tudor Gothic as well as the predominant Italianate.
• The view shows how the Brighton solicitor, developer, and treasurer to the Town Commissioners and Vestry Clerk, Thomas Attree intended the park to look, but in the event it developed along very different lines. Attree bought the land, called Brighton Park, in 1825.
• The watercolour is of the greatest interest to historians of Brighton, combining the talents of Charles Barry, whose early career as one of the greatest architects of the 19th century began in Brighton, and his favourite topographer and perspectivist, Thomas Allom. The watercolour was lithographed by Allom in c,1836.
• The work is in good condition and is in its original maple frame with the monograms of William IV and Queen Adelaide. This is because Attree received permission to rename Brighton Park Queen’s Park after Queen Adelaide. The frame is inscribed Queen’s Park, Brighton, and carries the date December 26 1835.
• The watercolour was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1836 and was titled ‘Villas in Brighton’.
Purchased 2017 with the assistance of Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund, and the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation.