Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Embankment Pier and Thames at Charing Cross

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:
Where I was sat to draw this sketch

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.
Wikipedia - Cleopatra's Needle
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.


  1. Terrific drawing, Katherine. I love the way you take on so much complex detail.

  2. I just love looking at your drawings. I only wish I had known of this spot when I had been in London. Would have loved to have seen it in person.

  3. Thanks both of you.

    I think I like complex sketches!


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