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Sir Jeffry Wyatville (1766-1840)

Windsor Castle: The south front of the Upper Ward before and after the proposed remodelling 1824

Pen and ink with wash | 52.0 x 82.5 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 918431

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  • A watercolour showing, at the bottom, the south front of Windsor Castle in early 1824 and Wyatville's planned improvements to the building at the top.

    On 1 October 1823 King George IV took up residence in Windsor Castle and found it an extremely cold and inconvenient building in which to live. Parliament granted funds for improvements and the King, assisted by a Committee of Taste known as the Commissioners, appointed Wyatville as architect. The existence of the Commissioners was insisted upon by the Treasury who still remembered with anguish the escalating costs of Carlton House and hoped that such an august body would act as a sheet anchor on the King's creative enthusiasm. The first stone, part of the George IV Gateway (centre) at the top of the Long Walk, was laid by the King in 1824 on his 62nd birthday.

    Wyatville asked that his submission, if accepted, should be signed by the King and the Commissioners, as confirmation that the design had been approved. A parallel set of the drawings, unsigned, was kept for reference. This proposal for the south front is from the signed set.

    Despite the planners' caution, expenditure rose, delays were inevitable and extra funding constantly petitioned for. Wyatville was still working on the improvements at the time of his death in 1840, ten years after King George IV's death and three years into the reign of Queen Victoria.

    The proposal for the south front contains the outstanding alteration Wyatville made to the Castle, by which it is now universally recognised. He raised the height of the Round Tower (seen far left) by 30 feet, thus creating a single dominant feature which gave the Castle an architectural focus it had previously lacked.

    Catalogue entry adapted from 'A Royal Miscellany from the Royal Library Windsor Castle', 1990.
    Provenance

    Purchased from Mrs Milburn/Milbourne, 22 December 1908

  • Medium and techniques

    Pen and ink with wash

    Measurements

    52.0 x 82.5 cm (sheet of paper)

  • Other number(s)