London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom is one of the largest and most important cities in the world. The ancient Romans founded a port and trading settlement called Londinium in 43 AD and a few years later a bridge was constructed across the Thames to facilitate commerce.
During the reign of William the Conqueror the Tower of London was built and in 1176 a wooden London Bridge was replaced by a bridge of stone. By the time Henry VIII was king the population of London was at least 100,000.

Canaletto, The Thames And The City, 1746 1747

Canaletto, The Thames And The City 1746/1747

London Places To Visit

 Many artists have captured London and its historical landmarks. Claude Monet captured the Houses of Parliament. Camille Pissaro The Charing Cross Bridge. George Hyde Pownall imagined Piccadilly Circus and Caneletto captured The Thames and The City.

Camille Pissaro The Charing Cross Bridge 1890

Camille Pissaro The Charing Cross Bridge, 1890 

 London Art

Because of its illustrious history the City of London has grown into a powerhouse metropolitan area. A city that is known for its relationship with the arts, and it is here where the painter Theo Michael acquired his sense of an aesthetic. One day in Swiss Cottage he noticed a picture of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and had to have it.

Many years later in 2004 Theo visited an Edward Hopper retrospective at the Tate Modern in London and this inspired him to take up painting full time. It wasn’t just the quality of the painting, or the realism, in Hopper’s work, it was also the atmosphere and noir style on display that really spoke to Theo’s inner creativity. When Theo began painting it was always clear that London would play a big role as part of his visual repertoire.

Big Ben

Theo’s latest London landmark painting features the magnificent Big Ben looming across the urban skyline. In the painting the enormous clock tower hovers in the background, contrasting the painting with a sense of perspective as an assortment of passers by make their way along the wet pavement. An elegant office worker rides her bicycle in the rain and Theo’s signature private eye is smoking a cigarette in front of an old telephone box. Two double decker buses are gliding down the street towards Trafalgar Square on a typically busy day in the capital of Great Britain.  

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  • London painting, Big Ben an oil painting by Theo Michael

    Big Ben, A London Landmark

    Big Ben oil painting by Theo Michael January 2021

A London West End Theatre

The Shaftesbury theatre is a west end theatre located on Shaftesbury Avenue in London. The theatre was designed in 1911 for the Melville Brothers and opened to a production of The Three Musketeers. It was originally named the New Princes Theatre becoming the Prince’s Theatre in 1914. The theatre was renamed the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1962 under new management. The theatre has featured many illustrious runs of notable productions right up until the present day.

London Painting, Shaftesbury Theatre an oil painting by Theo Michael

The Shaftesbury Theatre

In this painting Theo captures the majesty of the theatre focusing on the glorious royal boxes along the far wall. We do not see the stage or show, and it is left to our imagination to envisage the performing arts on display. A beautiful aristocratic woman is standing with her binoculars in an elegant pose. In the distance a man is discretely admiring her from afar.
As with so many of Theo’s paintings the drama is hinted at but for the most part left to our imagination.

Shaftesbury Theatre oil painting by Theo Michael December 2018

London painting, a bus and London business men oil painting by Theo Michael

London painting Let's Go To Work

Theo’s painting Let’s Go To Work was inspired by Quintin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and its infamous scene of gangsters walking in slow motion side by side  It features four well dressed professionals walking together exuding panache. The street could be any West End corner in London and there is a black taxi and double decker bus in the background further adding the city’s idiosyncrasies to the painting. The homage to Reservoir Dogs can be further seen if you look closely enough on the Evening Standard news bulletin board.

Let's Go To Work oil painting by Theo Michael October 2020

Homage To Edward Hopper

The Ticket Office is a painting about love and passion. Firstly, Theo’s love and passion for Edward Hopper is on show in his homage to the Hopper painting Nighthawks. A glimpse of the cafe/bar featured in that painting can be seen in the background alluding to the infamous scene of dark and mysterious characters at night that Hopper captured so spectacularly.
Secondly, the woman leaning against the ticket office clutching her handbag in the picture is based on his wife, Anja, who is also a recurring character in Theo’s work. The painting is more emotive than Hopper’s as a result and we are left to wonder what is going on in the blonde woman’s mind as she looks down pensively, wearing a beautiful white and blue dress, and delicate red bag. It is, we surmise, the early hours of the morning, as the only other person in the painting is the road sweeper in the background.

  • Edward Hopper style painting by Theo Michael titled The Ticket Office

    The painting The Ticket Office

    The Ticket Office features the Royal Railway Station In Windsor, England, famous for its Royal residence of Windsor Castle.

    Oil painting by Theo Michael July 2018

London painting, featuring London At Night Art Noir style by Theo Michael

London At Night

Theo has always been fascinated by the use of light and dark in whatever medium of artwork he has undertaken whether it is pastels, watercolours, or oils. It’s this particular degree of finesse and expertise that brings London to life in the painting London At Night. It is a glorious painting using a golden urban light to create the atmosphere of the city as motorcycles and black cabs roll down the roadway. Theo’s signature private eye returns in the foreground lighting a cigarette and holding a flame that sets off a brilliant and magical glow in the darkness. A lush cathedral drifts in the distance in the golden moonlight and there are further hints of the city’s architecture in the scattered incandescence. 

London At Night oil painting by Theo Michael June 2019

Piccadilly Circus, a London landmark

Piccadilly Circus is a junction in London’s West End. It was built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly. Circus is taken from the Latin word meaning circle. The circus now connects various streets together and is close to major shopping and entertainment areas in the West End.

London Painting of Piccadilly Circus, an oil painting by Theo Michael

Piccadilly Circus

Theo’s painting Piccadilly Circus invites us to enjoy the full glory of the city of London in daylight. The London Underground sign, shown in great detail in this painting, was invented by Edward Johnston in 1919 and has become a symbol of London itself. Coca Cola and Ebay advertisements glisten on the gargantuan digital billboard. A Coca Cola advert has been continuously featured prominently in this location since 1955.
A man is emerging from the underground pass with vigour. His raincoat held tightly with one arm, whilst the other holds a wrapped gift.

A woman, carrying a red umbrella, is strolling towards the station in the rain. One could, quite reasonably imagine that they are a couple surprising each other with last minute gifts.

Piccadilly Circus oil painting by Theo Michael March 2019

London Landmarks

Theo’s artwork, while mostly known for its stylistic noir settings and subjects, is also a celebration of his surroundings. In his work he invites us to experience locations and people through his own eyes. London is an exciting city of business and commerce and through his paintings we are left with a nostalgic and melancholy feeling. This is a city that, through his childhood and early adulthood, has left its mark on Theo and changed him irrevocably. Never is this more apparent than in these dramatic London landmark paintings, where his sense of belonging and celebration is on show for everyone to see.

Author Marc Michael, February 16th 2022