Topography is the description of places, and topographical prints and drawings have often been seen as “accurate” visual representations of specific areas at moments in history. The British Library holds an unrivalled collection of hundreds of thousands of prints and drawings of the British Isles. These include images of towns, districts, parts of the countryside, individual buildings in their setting and identifiable interiors. They date from around 1300, with the bulk of the collection from the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
Our collection of topographical views has been amassed in various ways over hundreds of years and includes the King’s Topographical Collection, put together by and for King George III. There is currently no uniform way of searching across the Library’s collections of printed books and manuscript material for images of a particular place or by a particular artist. While not aiming to be definitive, this bibliography lists secondary sources which may help researchers access our topographical views.
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