Same London View, 400 Years Apart

By Victoria Thomas Last edited 99 months ago

Last Updated 19 February 2016

Same London View, 400 Years Apart
A shot of London, 400 years ago

London 2016 — meet London 1616.

For the first time, two versions of the same London view, 400 years apart, will come face to face when they're displayed together in the Guildhall Art Gallery for Visscher Redrawn 1616-2016.

Dutch draughtsman, Claes Jansz Visscher's 1616 engraving of the medieval city is one of our few records of London before the Great Fire gutted many buildings in 1666. Displayed alongside it will be Visscher Redrawn — Zimbabwean artist Robin Reynolds's detailed recreation of the same 6.6ft cityscape, with today's modern architectural additions.

In recognition of Shakespeare400, his version also gives a nod to the Bard's 37 plays and poetic works.

Robin Reynolds's London Redrawn 2016

Studying the two pieces, it's obvious how the city's evolved. The first engraving shows mostly low-level buildings and a wooden London Bridge covered with house-like structures. The Reynolds version is dominated by the bold, modern shapes of the Gherkin, 20 Fenchurch Street and the Leadenhall Building.

In fact the only constant in the two landscapes is what we now know as Southwark Cathedral. Even London Bridge no longer has severed heads on spikes, as featured in the original Visscher version... it's hard to believe this is the same city.

Visscher Redrawn takes places at Guildhall Art Gallery, EC2V 5AE from 20 February-20 November 2016. Tickets are free.

  • An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that heads on spikes were visible on Southwark Cathedral. This has been corrected.