An engraving of the riverside in the mid eighteenth century from a current exhibition
This engraving is one of many views of the main village of Chiswick Parish produced between about 1750 and 1820. Like this one, all the prints have the river in the foreground, the church near the centre and one or two typical boats on the water.
This image includes Corney House, in the trees at the extreme left, St Nicholas church in the centre, with the cluster of small houses where the fishermen lived, between the graveyard and the water and some grander houses downstream. The river bank in front of the church, where fishing boats could be drawn up the shingle and nets hung to dry, was an area of great activity in the 18th century. You can see that the riverside gardens have not yet been reclaimed from the river, and the roadway runs beside the water near Chiswick Eyot, like today’s path at Strand on the Green.
The larger boat in the picture is a western barge. Loaded with goods and its crew of two, it is being poled along the shallow river with its sails furled. Near the church the Chiswick Ferry is setting off from the causeway to pick up three Barnes women waiting in the foreground.
The print is part of the "Chiswick Pictures" exhibition at Hogarth's House which will run till 26 October. Over 60 prints, paintings, drawings and watercolours, the oldest published around 1700 and the most recent from 1988, are now on show. The choice of title is deliberate, since all the pictures show parts of Chiswick, some are by Chiswick artists and all belong to the local authority and are usually stored at Chiswick Library. Apart from a small group which have been shown at Boston Manor House in Brentford since the mid 1990s, very few have been exhibited since they were acquired.
The exhibition was researched by members of the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society, working at first from photocopies and photographs of the originals. The team included Libby Gilliver, Ruby Harvey, Lorna and Gary Leach, Diana Reeves and David Shavreen. They identified the locations in the images, looked at how the artists may have changed the landscape to suit their picture, and also investigated the artists themselves. The pictures selected are an extraordinary mixture but have been grouped by location so that the viewer can compare them and see the way the place has changed. The labels provide the key information found by the research team and offer connections between pictures wherever they can.
Admission to the House and the exhibition is free. The exhibition is accompanied by an information sheet of the same title, priced £2, which is on sale at the House and will soon also be on sale at Chiswick Library. All of the information obtained, of which only a fraction could be included in the exhibition, will be collected together to provide a history file for each image and deposited at the Local Studies Library for others to use in future.
September 9, 2003