Now the artist Robin Reynolds has updated that classic view for the present day, recreating Visscher’s perspective as closely as possible, but detailing the London riverside of 2016.
Of course much has changed, and not just all the concrete and glass. Sir Christopher Wren’s 1710 St Paul’s Cathedral replaces the old cathedral gutted in the fire. There is still a river crossing called London Bridge in the same place as the medieval version – but it is no longer lined with houses and shops, and lacks the severed heads of traitors seen on spikes above the southern gatehouse shown in Visscher’s engraving. The 1990s reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre can be seen on the South Bank, a few hundreds metres from the site of the original.
Visscher completed his 6ft engraving in the year of Shakespeare’s death, and to mark that 400th anniversary, Reynolds’s new drawing includes references to the bard’s 37 plays, three poems and various sonnets.
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