William Marlow painted the same view, but with the Adelphi designed by the Adam brothers still in the late stage of its construction, at least four times. Two versions were in the Westminster (later National Westminster, now National Provincial) Bank collection, a third is in a private collection, and the fourth signed with initials ‘WM’ is in the London Museum. One of these, probably the London Museum version, was almost certainly exhibited at The Society of Artists in 1771 (103). All four must pre-date the present picture as they show the riverside below the Adelphi before the wharf below the Royal Terrace was built, with labourers and building materials crowding the muddy bank sloping down to the river. The present painting can be dated to 1774-75 on account of the completely finished state of the Adelphi development, with the arcaded wharf, waterside crane and landing stage below the balustraded terrace in front of the Adelphi houses; in the earlier pictures only the pedimented elevation at the end of Adam Street (at the near end of the Royal Terrace) has been built, whereas the corresponding feature at the end of Robert Street has not yet been started and was finally completed in 1772-73. The topographical detail of this painting therefore shows the Adelphi with below it the warehousing and wharf in their finished state, creating a classical riverfront modelled on the Roman palace of Diocletian at Spalatro (Split) on the Adriatic seafront which Robert Adam published in 1764. Beyond the Adelphi the distinctive tower and chimneys of the York Gate Waterworks pumping house are prominent, with beyond the clocktower of the Horseguards and the Portland stone parapet of the Whitehall Banqueting House clearly visible over the riverfront houses, and Westminster Abbey and Westminster Bridge closing the view.
We are grateful to Michael Liversidge FSA for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.