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Here is how this artist rendered Brunel's Saltash Bridge:

enter image description here

Here is how it appears today.

enter image description here

Did the appearance change, or was some artistic licence taken in the painting?

My question is: Did this artist take some licence with the Royal Albert Bridge - or has its appearance changed?

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Probably artistic interpretation. #i see the differences you are alluding to but they don't look like things you could reasonably alter in a structure.

The artist's rendering looks like an engraving or etching and as such the final image would have gone through several stages probably starting with a sketch in the field in pencil or watercolours before being worked up into a more detailed composition and then being adapted by the engraver.

At each stage there would have been some degree of interpretation to produce a pleasing composition as well as practical limitations imposed by the processes used. It is certainly not uncommon for landscape artists to idealise scenes a bit and engravers would need to interpret the image to convert it into a printable grey-scale format.

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