Claes Visscher’s Panorama of London in 1616 is one of the finest views we have of London before the Great Fire. It is over two metres long, so perhaps unsurprisingly, there are no complete, high quality, images of it on the net.
Thanks to Peter Harrington Rare Books I am very happy to be able to share this stunning image, complete and in colour for the first time.
Click on the small image below for a full size version or scroll down to see the panorama in sections.
This version of the panorama is a superb, rare, Victorian facsimile of the original. A beautifully hand coloured view of London from the south. You can see an original uncoloured high quality version here but it is incomplete.
This left hand section showing Westminster in the West is omitted from many on-line images or it is reproduced in very low quality.
Continuing east along the river, the next section contains a wonderful view of St Paul’s Cathedral, after losing its spire in the 1561 lightening strike but before the Great Fire of 1666.
In the centre of the panorama the spires of City churches dominate.
London Bridge, then the only bridge, can be seen complete with severed heads on spikes. St Mary Overie, in the foreground, was later to become Southwark Cathedral.
In the final section we can see The Tower of London and St Katherine’s Docks.
The panorama still excites debate in certain circles. Some of the architectural detail, such as the shape of Shakespeare’s Globe, is often questioned. Others will point out that several churches and other buildings are omitted entirely. These inaccuracies could be due to the fact that Visscher lived and worked in Amsterdam and probably never visited London.
However, I think that that taken as as a whole this view is still a magnificent early representation of London and will leave it to others to point out any faults in the comments section below.
You can see the Visscher Panorama for yourself at Peter Harrington Rare Books and, if your pockets are deep enough, you can take it home with you for £4,500 (framed).
100 Fulham Road
Chelsea, London, SW3 6HS
The Shop is Open:
Very many thanks to staff at Peter Harrington for enabling me to share this image here, especially to Ruth for her brilliant photography and to Emilie for first showing me the original.
The author of this blog is a fully qualified and insured City of Westminster Tour Guide who runs unique walking tours and private tours in London.
I also offer Private Tours, Private Events and provide Consultancy Services for media and education professionals in London. You can read Reviews of Walks and see some recent projects here. Please feel free to contact me about any of these services.