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Oil painting - A Thames Wharf

A Thames Wharf

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    London (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1757 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Scott, Samuel (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118a, case WW

Object Type
Samuel Scott (1702?-1772) and other artists began to paint views of the River Thames after Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768) arrived from Venice in 1746. The Italian became the most famous and successful painter of London riverside scenes, and British artists soon followed his example.

Subjects Depicted
London began in ancient times as a small settlement next to a crossing point of the Thames, and until the mid-19th century the river was still the main route through which all the trading wealth flowed into the City. The docks were literally the gateway to the world, filled with a huge mass of shipping. London has changed so much since the 18th century that it is now difficult to identify the exact location shown in this picture. There is some evidence that it represents the Old East India Wharf, as there is the mark 'UEIC' (United East India Company) on a bale. Therefore the traditional title of this painting may be correct. There were many such wharves on the Thames, with their wooden treadmill cranes for unloading the merchandise.

Samuel Scott was a marine painter and a drinking companion of William Hogarth (1697-1762). He was commissioned by merchants, sea captains and naval officers to paint pictures of riverside and sea scenes and naval engagements.

Physical description

This picture vividly depicts how London's maritime trade was handled at the riverside wharfs and quays. Much interesting detail is included in the picture notably the tread-mill crane. The figures at work and in conversation around the quay have about them a liveliness and spontaneity. The location of the scene is not problematic.

Place of Origin

London (painted)


ca. 1757 (painted)


Scott, Samuel (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas


Height: 160 cm canvas, Width: 137.1 cm canvas

Object history note

Purchased, 1865
Painted in London by Samuel Scott (born in London, about 1702, died in Bath, 1772)

Descriptive line

Oil painting by Samuel Scott depicting The Old East India Wharf, London. Great Britain, ca. 1757.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

100 Great Paintings in The Victoria & Albert Museum. London: V&A, 1985, p.66

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The large size of the ships and the mark 'UEIC' on the bale in the foreground indicates that this picture is supposed to depict one of the Thameside wharves of the United East India Company, which controlled Britain's trade to and from India and other Asian countries. However, although the picture is closely observed, it is not based on any particular location but combines a range of real and imagined views. [27/03/2003]


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Ships; Wharf; Dog (animal)


Paintings; British Galleries


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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