<< YCBA Home Yale Center for British Art Yale Center for British Art << YCBA Home

YCBA Collections Search

IIIF Actions
Canaletto, 1697–1768
Westminster Bridge, with the Lord Mayor's Procession on the Thames
Former Title(s):

Westminster Bridge, London, with the Lord Mayor's Procession on the Thames [1985, Cormack, YCBA Concise Catalogue]

Westminster Bridge from the North with the Lord Mayor's Procession, 29 October 1746

The Thames at Westminster Bridge: the Lord Mayor's Procession
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
Frame: 43 5/8 x 56 x 3 inches (110.8 x 142.2 x 7.6 cm), 37 3/4 x 50 1/4 inches (95.9 x 127.6 cm)

Label on verso, upper left: “Painting in England, 17[...] - [...] | The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Richmond | Artist: Canaletto | Title: ‘The Lord Mayor’s Procession, | The Thames at Westminster Bridge’ | Medium: Oil on canvas <Loan No.:> | Cat. No. 13 | Insure for: Sales Price: | Lender: Mr. And Mrs. Paul Mellon | Address: Upperville, Virginia”; upper left: “K 531002 | [logo] | Allied Van Lines | 41 | PAT.No.3,489,433”; upper right: “Guildhall Art Gallery | Canaletto in England Exhibition | June - July 1959 | Title A View on the Thames, Looking Towards Westminster Abbey | Lent by His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry, | K.T.,G.C.V.O”

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
barges (ceremonial watercraft) | barges (flat-bottomed watercraft) | boats | bridge (built work) | cathedral | celebration | church | cityscape | commemoration | event | festival | flags | holiday | Lord Mayor’s Day procession | monument | people | procession | river | rowboats | sailboats | ships | sloops (sailing vessels)
Associated Places:
City of Westminster | England | Europe | Greater London | London | Thames | United Kingdom | Westminster | Westminster bridge
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

This view on the Thames commemorates two important civic events: the annual river festivities honoring Lord Mayor's Day, and the completion of Westminster Bridge. When Canaletto painted the work in 1747, the bridge was in fact still under construction (it was not opened until three years later), and this part of the scene is largely imaginary. The project was subject both to delays and controversy. The city's only existing bridge was the old London Bridge, and the building of a new one was vehemently opposed by groups such as the watermen (ferry operators), who regarded it as an unfair threat to their livelihoods.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005
In this view of the Thames Canaletto commemorates two civic events: the annual fluvial festivities honoring Lord Mayor's Day and the completion of Westminster Bridge. Canaletto's great popularity among his British patrons depended on his prodigious production of festive and atmospheric scenes of life in the piazzas and on the canals of Venice, and during his eight years in England, he would paint several views full of details of London life but redolent with Venetian allusions. The construction of Westminster Bridge was one of his most frequent London subjects, perhaps because several of his patrons sat on the committee governing its building.
Canaletto shows the Lord Mayor's Day procession from a bird's-eye view, looking south and directly facing the bridge. On the right the skyline of Westminster dominates; in the distance on the left is Lambeth Palace, London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury. Hawksmoor's newly completed towers of the west front of Westminster Abbey peak above the cityscape to the right, and the Union Jack proudly flies above the tower of St. Margaret's, Westminster. To the left of the Abbey the sloping roof of Westminster Hall leads the eye to the double spires of St. Stephen's, then the seat of the House of Commons, and farther in the distance are the four spires of St. John-the-Evangelist in Smith Square.
Topographically faithful in its depiction of the London skyline, the painting is equally meticulous in its rendering of the mayoral procession. The City of London celebrated Lord Mayor's Day annually on October 29 (in 1752 the date was changed to November 9). On that day the Lord Mayor was sworn into office by the Barons of the Exchequer and presented to the king. The ceremony began in the City, from whence the Lord Mayor, attended by various livery and Aldermen, traveled upriver to Westminster in a lavish water procession of offiicial and ceremonial barges. Canaletto paints the Lord Mayor's barge broadside, displaying its eighteen oarsmen and various attendants. The other official vessels can be identified from a caption to a contemporary print of the painting: from left to right, the barges belong to the Skinners, the Goldsmiths, and the Fishmongers; navigating under the arches of the bridge are those of the Clockworkers, Vintners, and Taylors; directly behind the Lord Mayor's is that of the Mercers and, at the far right, that of the Drapers. Canaletto enlivens his festive view of the procession by dotting the river with sailing barges, some of which are salutes, and by peopling the smaller boats, bridge, and windows with spectators eager to take part in the day's events.
Before Westminster Bridge was built, London Bridge was the only permanent structure crossing the Thames. The City Corporation, opposed to westward expansion of the city, and the Watermen of London, feeling their livelihood threatened, had lobbied vehemently to prevent its construction. Against their alarmist, self-interested objections, however, the Bridge Committee passed in 1736 an act to build Westminster Bridge; its foundation stone was dropped into the middle of the Thames in 1739.
Painted in 1747, the work was meant to coincide with the bridge's scheduled opening, but shortly before the inauguration one of the piers on the Westminster side began to settle dangerously, delaying the structure's completion until 1750. Canaletto, therefore, speculates on the bridge's final appearance: he ornaments each pier with an octagonal, half-domed alcove and decorates the central section with statues of the Thames and Isis. Only six pairs of these alcoves were actually built (one set at either end and one set at the central bay), and no such statues, although there may have been plans or drawings for them, ever adorned the bridge.

Julia Marciari-Alexander

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 70, no. 22, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

Casanova - The Seduction of Europe (Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 2018-06-17 - 2018-10-08) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Casanova - The Seduction of Europe (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2018-02-10 - 2018-05-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Canaletto and the Conquest of Light (Hôtel de Caumont, Aix-en-Provence, France, 2015-05-06 - 2015-09-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Hanover's Rulers on the British Throne 1714 - 1837 (Niedersachsische Landesmuseum, 2014-05-01 - 2014-10-31) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Royal River (National Maritime Museum, 2012-04-27 - 2012-09-09) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Canaletto in England - A Venetian Artist Abroad, 1746-1755 (Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2007-01-24 - 2007-04-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Canaletto in England - A Venetian Artist Abroad, 1746-1755 (Yale Center for British Art, 2006-10-19 - 2006-12-31) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Great British Paintings from American Collections: Holbein to Hockney (The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, 2002-02-01 - 2002-05-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Great British Paintings from American Collections: Holbein to Hockney (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-09-27 - 2001-12-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of South Australia, 1998-09-16 - 1998-11-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Queensland Art Gallery, 1998-07-15 - 1998-09-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1998-05-01 - 1998-07-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Canaletto (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989-10-30 - 1990-01-21) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Georgian Canada - Conflict and Culture (Royal Ontario Museum, 1984-05-01 - 1984-11-01) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Pursuit of Happiness - A View of Life in Georgian England (Yale Center for British Art, 1977-04-19 - 1977-09-18) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Sir Geoffrey Agnew, Yale's 1700 Mellon Pictures, The Times (London), , April 28, 1977, p. 9, Times Digital Archive [ORBIS]

Art : The Definitive Visual History, DK Publishing, New York, 2018, p. 257, NX440 .A785 2018 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Katharine Baetjer, Canaletto, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1989, pp. 10, 224-26, no. 63, NJ18 C17 B24 1989 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Rosemary Baird, From Charitable Apothecary to Country Squire: The Garniers at Rookesbury, Hampshire, Georgian Group Journal, v. 25, The Group, London, p. 219, fig. 5, NA966 G46 (LC) (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Baskett, Painting in England: 1700-1850: the Collection of English paintings formed by Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon : on Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, until August 18th, , Connoisseur, Vol. 153, London, June 1963, p. 100, N1 C75 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Charles Beddington, Canaletto in England, a Venetian artist abroad, 1746-1755 , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2006, p. 101, no. 23, NJ18 C17 B45 2006 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's sale catalogue : Important pictures by old masters and of the early English school : 13 July 1895, Christie's, July 13, 1895, p. 7, lot 26, Art Sales Catalogues Online [ORBIS]

W. G. Constable, Canaletto : Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768., Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1976, v. 2, p. 423, no. 435, pl. 80 (vol. 1), NJ18 C17 C65 1976 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 48-49, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Stephen Daniels, Fields of vision, landscape, imagery and national identity in England and the United States , Polity Press, Cambridge, 1994, p. 135, fig. 9, N8213 D35 1994 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Celina Fox, Lord Mayor's coach., Vol. 11, The Museum of London, [London, 1990, p. 224, no. 63, N8217 C24 L67 1990 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John T. Hayes, Panorama of the City and South London from Montagu House by Robert Griffier, Burlington Magazine, v.107,no.750, September, 1965, p.458, N1 B87 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Eleanor Hughes, Spreading Canvas : Eighteenth-Century British Marine Painting, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2016, p. 200, 201, fig. 107, ND 1373.G74 S67 2016 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Frederick Ilchman, Casanova: The Seduction of Europe, MFA Publications, Boston, Massachusetts, p. 197, fig. 100, N6756 .C37 2017 (LC) (YCBA) [YCBA]

Alex Kidson, Earlier British paintings in the Walker Art Gallery and Sudley House, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, 2012, p.157, fig. 65, ND466 .K537 2012 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Rozena Anna Kowalczyk, Canaletto : Rome, Londres, Venise : le triomphe de la lumie`re / ouvrage publie´ sous la direction scientifique de Madame Boz?ena Anna Kowalczyk, a` l'occasion de l'exposition au Centre d'art de l'hotel de Caumont, du 6 mai au 13 septembre 2015, Fonds Mercator, Bruxelles, 2015, pp. 130-31, 134-35, 210, cat. no. 26, NJ18.C17 C356 2015 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

J. G. Links, Canaletto and Old Westminster:, a City in the Making , Apollo, v. 135, no. 363, May 1992, p. 289, pl. II, N1 A54 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

J. G. Links, Canaletto in England, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, v. 129, no. 5297, April, 1981, pp. 298-308, U10 R81 (LSF - MUDD) [ORBIS]

J. G. Links, Canaletto, Phaidon, Oxford [Oxfordshire], 1982, pp. 148-51, no. 135, NJ18 C17 L54+ Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

J. G. Links, Canaletto, Phaidon, London, 1994, pp. 165- 167, no. 139, NJ18 C17 L54 1994 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden : Paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 70, no. 22, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

National Gallery of Art, Painting in Georgian England from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1970, p. 2, ND488 P25 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850 : collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon : Exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, , 1,2, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, p. 43 (v.1), no. 13, pl. 41, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

J. H. Plumb, The pursuit of happiness : a view of life in Georgian England : an exhibition selected from the Paul Mellon collection, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1977, pp. 53, 111, no. 104, N6766 Y34 1977 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Harley Preston, London and the Thames ; Paintings of Three Centuries, , National Maritime Museum, London, 1977, no. 13, N8214.5 G7 P74 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Eduard Safarik, Canaletto's View of London., Spring Books, London, 1961, pp. 18-19, fig. 2, NJ18 C17 S24+ (YCBA) [YCBA]

Osbert Sitwell, Canaletto, Creative Art, 5, October, 1929, pp. 697-704, J10 C86 + (Haas Arts Library Special Collections [ORBIS]

Roxane Sperber, Canaletto's Colour : the inspiration and implications of changing grounds, pigments and paint applications in the artist's English period, British Art Studies, Issue 2, Spring 2016, pages are unnumbered, figs. 1, 8, 25, 26, 51, Available Online (Orbis) http://dx.doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-02/rsperber-jstenger [Website]

David Starkey, Royal river, power, pageantry and the Thames , Scala Books, London, England, 2012, pp. 31, 78-79, 88-89, no, 48, DA670 T2 R69 2012 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

James Taylor, Marine painting, images of sail, sea and shore , Studio Editions, London, 1995, p. 52, ND1370 T27 1995 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

View through an Arch of Westminster Bridge, Bulletin of the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio, v.8, no. 2, 1951, pp. 697-704, J421 Ob2D (LSF) [ORBIS]

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Paul Mellon and collection., Vogue, vol.141,no. 9, May 1963, pp. 130, 131, V 2338 Original journal aricle also available TT500 V7 HAAS [ORBIS]

Malcolm Warner, Great British paintings from American collections : Holbein to Hockney, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 77, no. 11, ND464 W27 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Warner, The image of London, views by travellers and emigrés 1550-1920 , Trefoil Publications, London, 1987, p. 33, fig. 10, N8214.5 G7 W2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Donald Blake Webster, Georgian Canada, conflict and culture, 1745-1820 , Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada, 1984, pp. 42-3, no. 1, N6546 O6 W42 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Westminster Bridge Under Construction, from the South East, Art & Artists, v. 12, September, 1977, p. 26, J10 Ar699 + (LSF - MUDD) [ORBIS]

If you have information about this object that may be of assistance please contact us.