Three Victorian Cityscapes

The Irish watercolorist and scenery designer John O’Connor (1830-1889) produced a series of striking topographical portraits of London in the late nineteenth century. His style is both intensely realistic and somehow otherworldly (perhaps an effect of light and fog in the actual London atmosphere of the time).

I like his paintings very much, especially an 1884 view of St Pancras Station and the adjoining Midland Grand Hotel, which does justice to the majesty of Sir George Gilbert Scott’s architecture, enshrouded in cloud in the background.

The painting, titled, From Pentonville Road Looking West, London, Evening, is in the collection of the Museum of London. It has spent most of its recent history in storage because curators considered it a “deeply unfashionable, prime [example] of Victorian art,” which is galling.

Here are three paintings completed by O’Conner over a thirteen year period between 1874 and 1887.

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The Embankment, by John O’Connor, 1874
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From Pentonville Road Looking West, London, Evening, by John O’Connor, 1884
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Ludgate, Evening, by John O’Connor, 1887

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