MONTPELLIER PUMP ROOM Harttwieg fec. Harttwieg & Schonberg Lith. [n.d. but post 1825, and probably ca. 1830s].
1830. Lithograph trade card, 95 x 121mm, with attractive lithograph vignette of the pump room, with verses below; slightly soiled and spotted, with some minor edgewear and slight abrasions on verso, with evidence of previous label; a most appealing example. A most attractive lithograph promotional souvenir, giving a view of the Montpellier Pump Room at Cheltenham Spa in Gloucestershire. In the early 18th century, salt water springs had accidentally been discovered at Cheltenham and the spring was developed into a well by the entrepreneurial owner Henry Skillicorne. At the time, the benefits of salt water bathing as a new cure for ill health was being recognised and recommended by Georgian physicians, and it soon became a noted tourist destination for the great and the good, including such visitors as Handel, Johnson, and of course George III and his family, whose visit in 1788 really made Cheltenham fashionable.
To meet the growing demand, new wells were opened and rival spas established. In 1801 Henry Thompson, a London financier, bought a large estate and in 1809 opened the Montpellier Spa, originally a wooden structure, but later replaced by a far grander building, designed by the architect, artist and founding member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, John Buonarotti Papworth (1775-1847), whose classically designed building included a copper domed rotunda inspired by the Pantheon, and which can be seen in the present image. This was opened in around 1825, Papworth also redesigning the grounds for the Montpelier estate.
It seems probable that the card is the work of the British printmaker Christian Harttwieg, the Fitzwilliam Museum Collections recording a small valentine card of a similar style and which also includes verses within small oval medallions. That example includes the imprint ‘Harttwieg scr. & lith. 108 Hatton Garden’. The Yale Centre for British Art also notes a lithograph panorama of Gravesend from Windmill Hill, and which is signed by S. Schonberg, engraver, and which they date to 1830.