'Her Majesty's Tower' signed 'T.B.Hardy', inscribed and dated 1886 (lower left) watercolour heightened with white 63.5 x 104cm (25 x 41in).
This delightful and extremely rare riverscape by T.B. Hardy gives a majestic view of the ancient Tower of London. Brooding over the Thames and guarding the eastern approaches to London both on land and by water, the Tower as it is more usually known has been called the most perfect medieval fortress in Britain. Begun by William the Conqueror and extended by subsequent monarchs until Edward I completed the outer wall, it encompasses an area of 18 acres and has been, for centuries, a royal palace as well as a prison and place of execution for the nations traitors. At various times in its long history, it has housed the royal armouries, the royal observatory, the royal menagerie, the Public Records and the Crown Jewels, this last still one of its greatest attractions.
Dated 1886, the year after the passing of the Act of Parliament authorising the building of Tower Bridge, it is intriguing to speculate whether Hardy was prompted to paint this particular view before the river scene was changed for ever by the advent of that remarkable structure which now forms the natural gateway to London and has become, like some latter-day Colossus of Rhodes, one of the most instantly recognisable sights on the planet.