The third theatre on London’s Drury Lane burnt to the ground on the 24th of February, 1809, after only standing for fifteen years.
The painting, circa 1809, depicts the sky on fire from Westminster Bridge as the building collapsed.
The theatre’s owner, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, was famously seen drinking a glass of wine as the building burnt. He is said to have responded to baffled onlookers: “A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside.”
The present day Theatre Royal, Drury Lane opened in 1812 and is today one of London’s most important theatres.