Maps and views blog

13 February 2015

Enigmas and Errors: 19th-century cataloguing of the King’s Topographical Collection – Part 3. Windsor Castle and Hampton Court: a palatial mix-up.

Illustration1Maps K.Top.29.14.m.2., A north-east view of Windsor Castle from the Little Park.

This brief blog looks at a small watercolour whose title has changed three times. Maps K.Top.29.14.m.2., now catalogued as A north-east view of Windsor Castle from the Little Park, is an example of an item which was correctly identified in 1829 but whose title changed in error some time before 1844. It was catalogued in 1829 as a view of Windsor Castle but by 1844 had been misidentified as Hampton Court

Illustration2

Entry for Maps K.Top.29.14.m.2. in the Catalogue of Maps, Prints, Drawings, etc., forming the geographical and topographical collection attached to the Library of his late Majesty King George the third. (London, 1829.).

Illustration3

Entry for Maps K.Top.29.14.m.2. in the Catalogue of the Manuscript Maps, Charts, and Plans, and of the Topographical Drawings in the British Museum [known as the British Library from 1972]. (London, 1844-1861).

The view shows the east and north fronts of Windsor Castle before 1824. The similarity between the pedimented facade of the north front of Windsor and the south front of Hampton Court, designed by Christopher Wren (1632–1723), might have led to the cataloguing error. After 1824 Windsor Castle was remodelled by Jeffry Wyattville (1766-1840) and its north and east fronts changed significantly from the present view. The use of medium is unusual in that there is a substance mixed with the wash and gouache creating a layered effect across the sky. 

Illustration4

Detail of Maps K.Top.29.14.m.2., A north-east view of Windsor Castle from the Little Park.

The change in identification from Windsor to Hampton Court occurred after the publication of the 1829 catalogue but before the 1844 catalogue was produced. The Windsor section of the collection was subject to considerable change at this time, to the extent that many of the items were returned to King George IV, despite being listed in the 1829 catalogue. The early annotations along the side of the somewhat vague catalogue entries for Windsor show just some of the works returned.

Illustration5Entries for Windsor items in the Catalogue of Maps, Prints, Drawings, etc., forming the geographical and topographical collection attached to the Library of his late Majesty King George the third. (London, 1829.).

The research and cataloguing of, and fundraising for, this complex collection continues as yet more and more nineteenth-century enigmas and errors are unearthed. 

Alexandra Ault