View of Westminster Abbey; unsigned; attributed to Scott; Leonard Koetser Gallery Autumn 1963.
Can this view, below, realistically be taken from St James's Park ?
Answer: Yes. Though not today, because of the buildings erected in between.

This lower version of the identical view, with every detail slightly different, large or small,
has, thanks to the generous interest of a visitor to this site, Mr Peter Wilkins,
been recently mailed to me.

January 2017: back to previous page.

? Joseph Nickolls ?
Canaletto ? or Scott ? or James ?
or someone else ?

Left: the note accompanying the view of Westminster Abbey in the Koetser Gallery Catalogue, 1963. [See also foot of page.]

An embarkation here on deep and tricky waters. After roaming the internet for a few days, in search of C18th topographical views of London, there seem to be at least four authorship candidates for consideration.

Canaletto, 1697-1768, was in London from 1746 to 1756. Scott, 1702-1772, was in London until 1765, when he moved to Ludlow. See here for a run-down on Scott's career.

Joseph Nickolls' dates are variously given as 1689-1789, and rather more plausibly as 1692-1760, or even 1713-1750. In whatever case, he is said to have been active 1726-1755.

William James is said to have been active 1754-1771. Neither his birth nor death dates are recorded as established. Although he is mainly known for a number of views in Egypt and Venice, he is thought to have been a studio assistant to Canaletto in England, circa 1754.

The Koetser catalogue notes are displayed for the sake of interest, but no reliance is placed on the picture's attribution. The semi-glamorous list of prior owners does not guarantee Scott's authorship. The Earl Beauchamp's dates are 1872-1938. What was the picture's earlier provenance ? Who might have painted it ?

Curently, I favour Joseph Nickolls for picture A, or even Canaletto. William James seems likely to me for picture B. Dimensions of picture A: 25 x 57 inches. Dimensions of picture B: 41 x 61 inches.The handling of the trees, and the foliage, suggests James to me. Compare the version by James below, right, of Canaletto's view of Charing Cross. Composition identical, every detail varied, the lighting less bright, and all the dimensions, eg the statue's plinth, slightly changed

The picture at lower right, James after Canaletto, comes from an article by Wikipedia. See here. The notes accompanying the Wikipedia posting (as of Jan 2017) are exceedingly curious. The artist's name varies between William James, and William James Muller. His dates are given as 1812-1845. However, the picture is said to have been painted in circa 1759, for which see more, here. Unsigned, attributed.

Try a little genealogical research.
Unfortunately, William James is an exceptionally popular English name.


Entrance to the River Fleet; by or attributed to Samuel Scott, "The English Canaletto", named.
The water suggests Nickolls.

Some paintings shown here have been attributed to Scott in catalogues and elsewhere, but these attributions were made before Kingzett's catalogue raisonnée in 1982. On first coming across them I felt uneasy, as they didn't seem right --- as Scotts. With the discovery of Martin Butlin's Aspects of British Painting, 1988, with its illuminating comments on the pictures belonging to the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation collection, I was relieved to find that my unease had been justified. I therefore award myself as many brownie points as I can get away with. But I still don't know who painted these pictures.


An element of Canaletto's "factitious sparkle" ? Epithet by Waterhouse. Attributed by Butlin to Joseph Nickolls.

The paintings above and below are "attributed" to Joseph Nickolls in Butlin's catalogue; but they do not "show the particular idiosyncracies that are characteristic of ... works that can be definitely attributed to Nickolls." They were originally attributed to Scott, but Butlin comments that "neither picture is by Samuel Scott"; though they are evidently by the same hand. All that Butlin states about the life of Joseph Nickolls is that he was active between 1726 and 1755, but may have also painted well after that date. Some of even his signed works have been attributed to Scott.


Attributed by Butlin to Joseph Nickolls. Some time after 1747.

A View of the Stocks Market, by Joseph Nickolls:


The detail easily outdoes Scott. The engravings are dated 1752 and 1753,
but the inscriptions state that the views are from 1738.

See also "Canaletto & England", 1993.

See also "Canaletto in England", 2006.

samuel scott: one       samuel scott: two
samuel scott: three: battles       more on battles
samuel scott: four calms
scott, walpole, canaletto
monamy, scott, brooking, james, and others
article 1981       article 1983
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