• The Avon Gorge looking South during the building of the Suspension Bridge -

    Signed lower right: S. Read

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with touches of white

    31.5 by 47.5 cm., 12 1/4 by 18 3/4 in.



    sale Christie's, 28th April 1987, lot 55


    A scheme to bridge the gorge was proposed as early as 1754, when Bristol wine merchant, William Vick left ?1000 in his will to put towards the construction of a bridge. By 1829, Vick?s investment had grown sufficiently to enable the project to get underway and a competition was announced. This was eventually won by Brunel and by 1843, the bridge was partially completed with the abutments, towers, access roads, tunnels and chambers for anchoring the chains completed. However, costs were escalating, and the project was shelved. It was only following Brunel?s death in 1859, that work recommenced, as a tribute to the engineer. The bridge was finally opened in 1864.


    The present drawing depicts the bridge sometime between the construction of the towers and the work recommencing in 1860. Read?s architectural training is evident in the accuracy of the depiction of the towers of the bridge and in the buildings on the far side. Furthermore, the artist has placed an equal emphasis on the impressive power of the architecture of the man-made towers, as on the dramatic natural landscape.


    There is an engraving by Read of the completed bridge seen from the south.

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