(Late 19th Century)
Rotten Row, London
Oil-on-canvas, signed with initials
and dated “(18)86” lower right
Provenance: Waterhouse & Dodd, London
Painting: 13” 21”
Frame: 17” x 25”
Towards the end of the 17th century, William III established Rotten Row as a safer way to travel between Kensington Palace and St James’s Palace. In 1690, a broad avenue through Hyde Park was created and lit with 300 oil lamps. The lamps served as a safeguard against highwaymen – thieves who usually travelled on horseback (although some were on foot) and robbed travelers – and resulted in the first artificially lit highway of its kind in the UK. Originally, the route was called Route du Roi, which meant “King’s Road” in French. However, over time, the name was corrupted into “Rotten Row”.
During the 18th century, Rotten Row was a popular meeting place for upper-class Londoners. People would often gather together, dressed in their finest clothing, and ride along the row on horseback in order to see and be seen. In 1876, the road was reconstructed to be better for horse riding, with a brick base covered in sand.