THE WEST PROSPECT OF HIS MAJESTY'S DOCKYARD AT CHATHAM 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. Samuel and Nathaniel Buck published this exquisitely detailed copperplate panorama of the Medway dock-yard town of Chatham in 1738. As can clearly be seen by viewing the panorama, Chatham was at its height both as a ship building town, and as a dock-yard town. HMS Victory, Lord Admiral Horatio Nelsons famous ship, which won him the equally famous Battle of Trafalgar was built at this dock-yard sometime in the 1760s. Queen Elizabeth the I decreed the town should have a dock-yard in 1568, because of its geographical location facing Europe. Chatham is situated on the River Medway in Kent, along the old roman road known as Watling Street. Everything to do with all things marine are to be found within this splendid panorama; storage warehouses that are filled with ordinance, storage facilities for rope and cables, dwellings for naval officers, the pay house etc. The river is crammed with attractive looking naval ships, no doubt awaiting orders from the British Admiralty in London. Some surrounding villages can just be made out in the far distance. As is usual in the Buck panoramas; people are seen in the foreground sitting, talking and walking, and marveling at the splendid vista spread out before them. 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.