Historic Liverpool cityscapes

A panoramic view of Liverpool with the Port of Liverpool building and the Liver Building in the foreground

'Modern Liverpool', Walter Richards, 1907

Liverpool’s cityscape has attracted many artists, both locals and visitors. Their paintings, drawings, maps and prints were created for the walls of private collectors or galleries, for inclusion in publications or for distribution by publishers and dealers. They reflect Liverpool’s swiftly expanding port and townscape, the growth of its population and its mounting importance in the mercantile world. This was particularly true in the 19th century, when Liverpool grew rapidly.

Earlier views, produced without reference to maps, relied upon artistic invention. 18th century scenes were more topographical, or descriptive, such as the Bucks’ 1728 prospect. A 1725 survey of Liverpool by John Chadwick enabled improved levels of accuracy. In the 19th century the line between cartographers’ maps and the artists’ representations blurred. By the mid-19th century, when ‘bird’s-eye’ views flourished, many images had effectively become three-dimensional maps. Liverpool’s cityscape maintained its attraction to artists throughout the 20th century.

Ben Johnson’s painting The Liverpool Cityscape is the most recent addition to this ambitious lineage.