Portsmouth Fly returned to the city

  • 7 February 2013

A watercolour depiction of 18th-century Portsmouth by Thomas Rowlandson has been bought for the city with help from the Art Fund.

Thomas Rowlandson, The Portsmouth Fly, 1790s Portsmouth City Museum

Thomas Rowlandson, The Portsmouth Fly, 1790s

The painting shows the 'fly', a fast horse-drawn carriage crammed with people, heading towards Portsmouth down the London Road. The background captures some of the city's iconic sights, including Southsea Castle, Portsea Island and Portchester Castle.

The painting will go on show from Tuesday 12 February as part of a rehanging of the museum's main picture gallery, after it was bought thanks to funding from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Art Fund and individual donors. It will be displayed alongside Edward King oil paintings depicting the bomb damage to Portsmouth in 1941 and 1942. 

Rosalinda Hardiman, collection manager for Portsmouth Museum, said, "It's a lovely painting in which Rowlandson has managed to capture the essence of the area. We have been overwhelmed by the level of support and funding we have received, and would like to thank everyone who gave so generously. The Portsmouth Fly is finally where it belongs, back in the heart of the city."