THE SOUTH WEST PROSPECT OF THE CITY OF DURHAM Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel
Samuel and Nathaniel Buck were brothers who were born in Yorkshire, England at around the turn of the 18th century. After spending their formative years in the north, they moved south to the great bustling metropolis that was London, as so many rural people did in those days, seeking their possible fame and fortune. As young men, around 1724, they set out and began an ambitious work to traverse each and every county within England and Wales. They began to engrave and prepare the particular countys antiquities be they free standing or semi ruinous castles, stately homes, or religious and monastic buildings of importance and consequence although many were in an extremely poor state of neglect and abject disrepair after the first King Henry VIII in the 16th century, and then Oliver Cromwell later in the 17th century had their respective religious purges. It was during the preparation of these collections of county antiquities that the Buck brothers struck on the novel idea to also engrave some of the more important cities and towns. So, in my opinion, what resulted was the most wondrous, most influential and most important topographical undertaking that was ever done of England and Wales, not only of the 18th century but also for many years afterward. Prior to Bucks magnificent copper plate panoramas, virtually nothing had been done to depict views of significant English cities and towns. Only a handful were included in the atlas by Braun and Hogenberg in their Civitates Orbis Terrurum published in Cologne in 1581. I honestly feel that there is nothing at all to compare with these exquisite panoramas, in terms of technical skill, engraved detail and sheer scale and size. I also feel that a huge debt of gratitude is owed to these two enterprising and ambitious brothers, who have left us not only with a wonderful and enduring legacy, but also a truly unique glimpse and brief insight into an English way of life that can never be replicated nor indeed pass our way ever again. In my opinion, this delightful copperplate engraving, published in 1745 by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck of the northern city of Durham, is one of their very finest. It shows the ancient city perched high on a hill, (strategically, an excellent vantage point over the centuries to see any invading armies approaching!) overlooking the River Were, and the lovely surrounding English countryside. The only access to the city is over the bridge. The city was founded by monks from nearby Lindisfarne in the last years of the tenth century. Until the untimely martyrdom of Thomas a Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral, Durham cathedral was the most important religious site in Britain, as both St.Cuthbert and The Venerable Bede had their resting places there. The centuries old cathedral rightly dominates the city, and indeed the complete panorama. Behind it we can glimpse at the impressive Bishops Palace. Along with some rather tightly spaced housing around the cathedral, we see some wonderful, well tended, south facing vegetable gardens running right to the rivers edge. . This is a panorama that displays a very important and strategic town that has had an enormous part to play within English history. There are repairs and some slight discoloration at the centerfold. This is a rare and significant opportunity to acquire one of these much sort after panoramas by Englands premier topographical engravers, and is entirely in keeping with Arader Galleries fine and long standing tradition of only offering items of the highest quality. Description prepared for Arader Galleries by Ian Williams.