Home Library Library Displays The Microcosm of London

The Microcosm of London

Title page of The Microcosm of LondonBishopsgate Library is delighted to hold in its London Collection a set of The Microcosm of London, published in three sumptuous volumes between 1808 and 1810. The leading name is that of the German emigrant publisher, Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834). The text is by William Henry Pyne (1770-1843), while the aquatints are by Thomas Rowlandson (figures) and the Parisian-born artist and architectural draughtsman Auguste Charles Pugin (architectural details).  The work is an acknowledged masterpiece and no collection on London history is complete without a set.

Pugin was the leading figure in getting the work started and the introduction claims: “Among the numerous inhabitants of this great city, there are some whose particular pursuits have so much engrossed their time and thoughts, that they know little more of the scenery which surrounds them than barely the names. Such a work as this may reasonably be expected to rouse their dormant curiosity, and induce them to notice and contemplate objects so worthy of their attention.” Bishopsgate Library’s copy was purchased by the Institute’s second librarian Charles Goss from Quaritch, Bond Street, in 1899.

This volume contains 32 chapters, arranged alphabetically, covering various buildings and attractions in London at the time. This exhibition will display the Rowlandson and Pugin aquatints that accompany each chapter. View the illustrations here.