The present watercolour can be compared to The Garden Front or River Front of Old Somerset House, London executed by Thomas Sandby, circa 1770, now in the Royal Collection at Windsor (A. Oppé, Sandby Drawings at Windsor Castle, London, 1947, no. 163, pl. 63). The present view was executed from a similar viewpoint in front of Somerset House, but shows only the right of the building.
Thomas Sandby started his career as a military draughtsman and in 1750 become the Duke of Cumberland's personal draughtsman. He was also employed at Windsor to make improvements to the park. In 1768 he was appointed the Royal Academy's first Professor of Architecture and at the time the Academy was housed at Somerset House. The meticulous precision with which the building has been drawn is typical of Thomas Sandby's architectural approach to his topographical watercolours. He has successfully depicted the light of an early morning sun, indicated by the elongated shadows behind the figures.
We are grateful to the Hon. Jane Roberts for suggesting that the figures were added later by Paul Sandby. Thomas would sometimes copy his younger brothers figures and add them to his own compositions but often the two would collaborate on a watercolour.