A 19th century artist’s impression of Birmingham Town Hall is to go on public display for the first time.
The watercolour by W Harris dates back to 1831 and accompanied the winning competition entry by architects Joseph Hansom and Edward Welch, whose design for Birmingham Town Hall was completed in 1834.
The design for the town hall was based on the Roman temple of Castor and Pollux and was intended to serve as both a municipal office and a music venue, and is one of the oldest surviving concert halls of its size in the world.
As well as showing the design of the proposed town hall, the painting also depicts the architects’ ideas for grand buildings surrounding the structure, reflecting the aspirations of the city’s authorities at the time.
Peter Marsh, professor of history at the University of Birmingham said: ‘This watercolour expresses the civic vision of the leaders of Birmingham long ago when it was bursting onto the economic and social landscape of England but still lacked recognition in the governance of the country.’
He added: ‘The leaders of Birmingham in the 1830s wanted to stake out a two-fold claim for their town: that it was a cultural centre of European distinction and was, at the same time, eager to set the pace of political reform in Britain.’
The painting was unveiled yesterday (1 December) at Birmingham Town Hall and will be viewable by the public during organised tours of the building, while a copy of the painting has been installed in the publically-accessible foyer.