Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Our Precious Vantage Point

Promenade Hill has been identified as the first of the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) projects to move forward. Sometime today, Gossips hopes to know which firm will be recommended by the DRI Committee to carry out the planning and implementation of the restoration and renovation of this historic landscape. 

With the attention being paid to Promenade Hill, it was timely that last night John Knott sent me an image of this painting by J. M. W. Turner, called Mortlake Terrace: Early Summer Morning, and remarked on how the design of this landscape resembled our own Promenade Hill. The painting, which Turner did in 1826, is in the Frick Collection in New York City.

Knott said the painting reminded him of old photographs of Promenade Hill, and I suspect this may have been one of the pictures he had in mind.

In 1827, Turner did a second painting of this site. Known as Mortland Terrace, the Seat of William Moffatt, Esq., Summer Evening, this painting is in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

This painting evokes for me Henry Ary's 1851 painting of Promenade Hill.

Mortlake Terrace overlooked the Thames; Promenade Hill overlooks the Hudson. As Knott observed, "when one had a view like this, there was an architectural device suitable for its use."

Curious to know the exact location Mortlake Terrace, I discovered that it is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The home of William Moffatt, which appears in Turner's painting Mortlake Terrace: Early Summer Morning, was built around 1720. It still stands and is known today as 123 Mortlake High Street, or The Limes.

According to Wikipedia, the house was been converted to commercial office space, and the grounds "have now been completely built over." The Google map of the area shows that what was Mortlake Terrace is now a car park.

Mercifully, here in Hudson we still have our amazing relic of Georgian landscape design. Let us treasure and respect it.


  1. Well seen Mr. Knott, thank you!

    It was at last year's Thomas Cole exhibit at the Met where I first learned of Turner's influence on Cole.

  2. How interesting, and what a beautiful painting. JMTurner, always one of my favorites. And good research, Carole, and thanks to John.