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The Approach to Saint Paul’s Cathedral – British Art

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Can you imagine London without the dome of Saint Paul’s Cathedral rising over the skyline of the old city? Believe it or not, after the fire of 1666, Sir Christopher Wren’s plans for a dome over the new Saint Paul’s was an issue of some debate. In fact, for part of the construction, the dome was hidden from view. Apparently Christopher Wren was not above a little subterfuge. And it’s apparent that he was passionate that the new Saint Paul’s Cathedral would have a dome. Centuries later, it simply is an important part of London.

Much of the historic architecture around Saint Paul’s Cathedral was lost during the bombing of London in World War II. The great cathedral was damaged as well but rebuilt. But much of the architecture that surrounds Saints Paul’s Cathedral in the 21st century is a radical departure from the now-classical baroque church. This approach Peter’s Hill Footpath is an illustration about how much modern and postmodern architecture now surrounds that iconic dome.

While I’m sorry that so much history was lost to the war, I’m glad that London embraced the future and moved forward rather than attempting to re-create the cityscape that was lost. The result is an eclectic mix of old and new that I personally love. And it feels like that decision was in keeping with the history of London. After the great fire, London was rebuilt on the old street plans but in a modern style. Saint Paul’s Cathedral was cutting edge for its day so it excites me to see it surrounding by glass and steel and modern lines.

I think this print of the iconic cathedral is one of my favorite vantage points in fact. I love the way the modern architectural lines frame the classical baroque of Saint Paul’s Cathedral with the great dome rising against some insanely beautiful clouds.  And for me the people in this scene are a reference point for the viewer.  And they almost remind me of modern day pilgrims on their approach to Saint Paul’s great dome.


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