Charing Cross Bridge & Parliament from Cleopatra's Needle, on the Embankment
11.5" x 17", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
My Drawing Group's latest expedition to draw London found us at the Victoria Embankment next to Charing Cross Station at the end of May. It's an area I know extremely well and I've paced up and down it a few times trying to work out where Monet painted Parliament from.
What you can see in the sketch are:
- Part of one of the two faux-Egyptian Sphinxes cast from bronze that bears hieroglyphic inscriptions and which flank the base of Cleopatra's Needle
- Embankment Pier - across the road from Embankment Tube Station which is where you can find a boat which will take you up or down the River Thames
- Hungerford Bridge - which is the one the train use which come in and out of Charing Cross Station which is off to the right
- the Golden Jubilee Bridge - there are two cable-stayed pedestrian bridges (the white triangular bits) that share the railway bridge's foundation piers and sit either side of the Hungerford Bridge (the crisscrossed bit)
- the trees which line the Victoria Embankment
- the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in the distance
To draw this I was sat at the base of Cleopatra's Needle - which has a ledge which is just big enough to park a posterior. The "A" marks the spot on this Google Map of the location of Cleopatra's Needle.
There's a terrace just below Cleopatra's Needle - but don't sit there if the tide is coming in as it comes all the way up the steps and floods the terrace. A fellow sketcher had to move up the steps which come up from that terrace to the Embankment due to splashing from the wash of passing boats!
Cleopatra's Needle is a granite obelisk and was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by the ruler of Egypt and the Sudan in commemoration of the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nil. There are two other needles in New York and Paris. It is 68½ feet high, and weighs 180 tons.
Below is a description of the pair of Cleopatra's Needles in London and New York.
The pair are made of red granite, stand about 21 metres (68 ft) high, weigh about 224 tons and are inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs. They were originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on the orders of Thutmose III, around 1450 BC. The material of which they were cut is granite, brought from the quarries of Aswan, near the first cataract of the Nile. The inscriptions were added about 200 years later by Ramesses II to commemorate his military victories. The obelisks were moved to Alexandria and set up in the Caesareum — a temple built by Cleopatra in honor of Mark Antony — by the Romans in 12 BC, during the reign of Augustus, but were toppled some time later. This had the fortuitous effect of burying their faces and so preserving most of the hieroglyphs from the effects of weathering.You can see more of my sketches of London on the Travels with my Sketchbook in London page on my website. London Sketchbook is a summary of all the blog posts about sketching in London.
Wikipedia - Cleopatra's Needle