View of the Wilderness at Kew

Artist: William Marlow (British, Southwark, London 1740/41–1813 Twickenham, London)

Architect: Sir William Chambers (British (born Sweden), Göteborg 1723–1796 London)

Date: 1763

Medium: Watercolor

Dimensions: Sheet: 11 1/16 x 17 13/16 in. (28.1 x 45.2 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1925

Accession Number: 25.19.43


The magnificent Chinese Pagoda of Kew Gardens, designed in 1757 by William Chambers, has always attracted much attention. In the mid-eighteenth century, the pagoda fueled a rage for such buildings throughout Europe, and even today remains one of London's main tourist attractions. This sheet forms part of an album with delicately rendered watercolor drawings made by Marlow after Chambers's designs, later published as Plans, Elevations, Sections and Perspective Views of the Gardens and Buildings of Kew in Surrey, the Seat of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Dowager of Wales (London, 1763). In addition to this general view, there are three other detailed and architecturally precise drawings of the pagoda in the album, showing its design, construction, and decoration. At a time when a general vogue for chinoiserie was based on imaginative visions of the Orient rather than accurate information, Chambers, who visited China in the 1740s, was able to create stylistically accurate, authentic designs. His findings were published in Designs for Chinese Buildings (1757) and in Dissertation on Oriental Gardening (1772), his most influential work on garden architecture.