Hendrik Frans de Cort was a Flemish topographical painter, born in Antwerp, where he also studied and became a member of the Guild of St Luke in 1770. In 1776 he moved to Paris and was received into the Académie Royale and appointed Painter to the Prince de Condé, for whom he executed a pair of views of Chantilly, now in Musée Condé, Chantilly. During a brief return to Antwerp the artist co-founded an art society known as the Konstmaatschappij, but moved to London around 1790, where he remained until his death in 1810.
De Cort was particularly successful in obtaining commissions from the British nobility, establishing himself as a painter of country houses, castles, cathedrals and other views. It was his practice to paint on mahogany panel, its smooth surface ideally suiting his carefully descriptive realism, redolant of the Netherlandish tradition.
The present work was the first of several views of houses to be exhibited by de Cort at the Royal Academy, along with a view of William Beckford's Fonthill House, Wiltshire, in 1791, shortly after his arrival in London.
Thomas Dawson, 1st Viscount Cremorne, M.P. (1725-1813), was the eldest surviving son of the Dublin banker, Richard Dawson. He was created Baron Dartrey in the peerage of Ireland in 1770 and bought Chelsea Farm, a house in West Chelsea near the Thames in the late 1770s. When he was created Viscount Cremorne in 1785, it was subsequently also known as Cremorne House.
The Cremornes were connected to the Penn family, by marriage. Thomas Dawson, 1st Viscount Cremorne's second wife, Hannah Philadelphia (c.1740-1826), whom he married in 1770, was the grand-daughter, through her mother, Margaretta, of William Penn (1644-1718), the founder of Pennsylvania. Lord Cremorne and his wife were portrayed by Sir Thomas Lawrence. Lady Cremorne's portrait, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1789 (no.100), is now in the Tate Gallery.
De Cort's view shows the house looking onto the Thames with Chelsea Church and Battersea Bridge on the right. During the 1830s the building was used as a sporting club and in 1845 to 1877 the grounds were developed as Cremorne Gardens.