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THE 'OLD WATER-COLOUR' SOCIETY 



VOL. I. 



PRINTED BY 

SPOTTISWOOUB AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUAB 
LONDON 



A HISTORY 



OF THE 



'OLD WATER-COLOUR' SOCIETY 

NOW 

IRosal Society of painters in Mater Colours 



WITH BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES OF ITS OLDER 

AND OF ALL DECEASED MEMBERS 

AND ASSOCIATES 



PRECEDED BY AN 

ACCOUNT OF ENGLISH WATER-COLOUR ART AND ARTISTS IN THE 
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 



BY 



JOHN LEWIS ROGET 
III 



IN TWO VOLUMES 
VOL. I. 



LONDON 
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO 

AND NEW YORK : 15 EAST i6- STREET 
1891 

All rights rtserrtd 



/7/J 

R1-R7 



V. I 




762*745 



PREFACE 



To form a just estimate of a work of art, some acquaintance with the 
artist's intention, and the conditions under which his labour has been 
performed, is generally indispensable. For without an adequate per- 
ception of its aim, the critic may be misled, to complain of the 
absence of qualities which have been purposely suppressed, to give 
praise to others that are foreign to, and may even detract from, the 
1 expression of its leading motive, and to charge the artist with defects 
which may be inherent in the materials or implements of his art, or 
due to its prescribed limitations. If this be true of works of the 
pencil, it is no less so of those of the pen. To avoid such misconcep- 
tions, as well as to apportion justly the responsibilities of authorship, 
the following personal statement is laid before the reader. 

The original conception of this work is due to the late JOSEPH 
JOHN JENKINS, long a Member, and for some time Secretary, of the 
(now Royal) Society of Painters in Water Colours, who for many 
years, as time and opportunity served, and as (it must unhappily be 
added) his own fragile health permitted, was engaged in collecting 
materials for the compilation of a history which, had it ever been 
written, might more or less have resembled this. I had had no 
thought of being connected with such an undertaking until, in the 
month of October, 1884, I was honoured by a proposal conveyed to 
me by my friends Mr. (now Sir) Oswald W. Brierly and Mr. Edward 
A. Goodall, on the joint behalf of the Council of the above-named 
Society and of Mr. Jenkins himself, that I should make an endeavour 
to carry into effect the scheme, which his fast-failing strength had 



vi PREFACE 

compelled him to' relinquish. This, after one short interview with 
that gentleman, when he instructed me very briefly as to the nature 
of his projected book, I expressed my willingness to do. It was my 
only communication with him on the subject, except to acknowledge 
the receipt by instalments in the course of the next four months of 
so much of his manuscript notes as he had time and strength to 
arrange; and he died on the 9th of March, 1885. Some further 
memoranda, apparently reserved for similar revision, were afterwards 
obtained from his miscellaneous manuscripts and correspondence. 

' The papers thus placed in my hands, which had to be dealt with 
to the best of my unaided judgment, consisted chiefly of notes for 
separate biographies, mostly of members of the Water-Colour Society, 
but some of artists who flourished and died before that body came 
into being ; and they also comprised a careful series of extracts from 
the Society's Minutes, from its foundation in 1804 to the year 1863, 
with some notes of the circumstances of its actual birth and origin. 
There was little or nothing in the shape of continuous narrative 
forming a history either of the Society or of Water-Colour Art ; and, 
moreover, the quantity of biographical information was very unequally 
apportioned among the names entered on the roll. Of the lives of 
some, especially those of the earlier artists, 1 there were full and 
interesting details hitherto unpublished, while in other cases the 
record was an absolute blank. Unless, therefore, I had been content 
to treat the matter offered for publication as no more than a collec- 
tion or commonplace-book of literary and artistic notes, and to 
issue it in that fragmentary form, there seemed to be no way of 
utilizing the whole, without entering upon the laborious task of com- 
piling a history of sufficient scope to comprehend it all, together with 
a necessarily large mass of supplementary matter, which would have 
to be gathered from other sources. With this task I determined to 
grapple. I was not prepared, however, to undertake the compilation 
of a complete or exhaustive history of Water-Colour Art. This was 
unnecessary for the purpose, and the choice of a more limited scope 
was, I think, justified by the bulk which these volumes have attained 

1 Notably in those of Cristall, Glover, Nicholson, and Varley. 



PREFACE vii 

without such further extension, and by the unexpected length of time 
which has been required to complete them. In accordance, however, 
with what appears to have been Mr. Jenkins's first intention, I have 
not thought it necessary to confine this history either to a bare record 
of the proceedings of the ' Old Water-Colour Society ' with the con- 
tents of its exhibitions, and notices of the lives of its members. 
Taking advantage of its acknowledged representative position, I have 
considered its annals as forming an integral part of the history of 
water-colour painting in England, and have endeavoured to define its 
relations wilh other co-existent bodies, and with the general world of 
Art. As, moreover, the parentage and descent, as well as the birth, 
of the subject are usually recorded in a biographical memoir, so I 
have included some account not only of the immediate events which 
led to the founding of the Society of Painters in Water Colours, but 
of its remoter origin in the practice of water-colour art during the 
eighteenth century. In this preliminary history of the school, notices 
will be found of the leading draftsmen of the prior period, and a 
particular account of the life and times of Turner's early contemporary, 
Thomas Girtin. The chronicle of the Society is carried down to the 
present time, and the set of biographical notices is rendered so far com- 
plete as to include those of all the deceased, together with such of the 
living Members and Associates as exhibited works in the Gallery 
before the death of the President Copley Fielding in 1 85 5. In compil- 
ing these numerous biographies, I have endeavoured to render them 
of service to collectors and students, by affording information 
respecting the number, subjects, sale prices, and special gatherings of 
the artists' works, and by furnishing such lists as I could gather of 
published prints after their designs. These last will also serve to 
illustrate the intimate connexion which has always existed between 
our school of draftsmen and the engraver's art. While some attempt 
has generally been made to estimate the quality of the art of indi- 
vidual painters, as well as to define its scope, I have desired to abstain 
as much as might be from the intrusion of original criticism, under 
the belief that a record of received and contemporary opinion would 
not only be of greater value, but be more appropriate to the impartial 



viii PREFACE 

character of a purely historical account. At the same time it is im- 
possible, in treating of a subject such as the present, to divest oneself 
entirely of the bias of natural tastes and predilections. Besides the 
facts above referred to, which appertain to the several artists' graphic 
works, I have readily admitted into the accounts of their lives such 
incidents of a general nature as appeared to throw light upon character 
or personal qualities, or to be calculated to impart an individual 
interest to the several narratives, even at the risk of extending some 
of them beyond their due proportions. This I have done in the 
belief that such acquaintance with an artist's personality gives an 
added interest to the work of his hand ; and, moreover, that in the 
narrower circle of Art, as in the world at large 

There is a history in all men's lives 
Figuring the nature of the times deceased. 

The great extent to which I am indebted, not only to the memo- 
randa of the late Mr. Jenkins, but to other authorities published and 
unpublished, is, I trust, duly acknowledged throughout the following 
pages ; but I have also to express my gratitude for much valued and 
kindly aid received alike from friends and strangers (almost without 
exception) to whom I have applied for information, both in furnishing 
facts and in revising some of the biographies. 

In order to render the contents of these volumes the more available 
for easy reference, without unduly incumbering the pages of the 
Index, I have therein classified to some extent, on a uniform system, 
under the names of the several artists, the facts referred to in their 
respective biographies. 

JOHN L. ROGET. 



5 RANDOLPH CRESCENT, MAIDA HILL, LONDON, W. : 
March 1891 



SYNOPSIS OF CONTENTS 

( Volume I contains Books I to VI, Volume II Books VII to X.) 

INTRODUCTION 
WATER-COLOUR DRAWING AND PAINTING 

BOOK I 

WATER-COLOUR ART IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

Chapter I. Early Topographic prints. II. Sandby and the Rise of Exhibitions. 
III. Gentlemen's Seats Architectural Topography. IV. Picturesque Topography. 
V. Travelling Artists ; and Alexander Cozens. VI. John Cozens and John Smith. 
VII. Teachers, Draftsmen, and Dilettanti. 

BOOK II 
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN 

Chapter I. Turner and Girtin as Students and Reformers. II. Girtin and his Companions. 
III. The Last years of Girtin. IV. Girtin and Turner as Contemporary Artists. 

BOOK III 
THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY 

Chapter I. Exhibitors' Grievances Wells and Shelley. II. Hills, Pyne, and Pocock. 
III. Nicholson. IV. The Varleys ; Nattes ; and Gilpin. V. The Society Founded 
Barret and Cristall. VI. Glover, Havel!, Holworthy, and Rigaud. 

BOOK IV 

THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 

Chapter I. In Brook Street, 1805, 1806. II. In Pall Mall and Bond Street, 1807, 1808. 
III. At Spring Gardens, 1809 to 1812. IV. Fall of the First Society. 



x SYNOPSIS OF CONTENTS 

BOOK V 
THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 

Chapter I. A New Society. II. Members of the Old Society. III. John Varley. 
IV. Landscape ; and the Rising School. V. Ackermann ; and some of his Draftsmen. 
VI. Some Figure Painters. VII. William Hunt ; and other Exhibitors. VIII. Restor- 
ation of the Water-Colour Society. 

BOOK VI 
THE PRESIDENCY OF CRISTALL, 1821-183! 

Chapter I. Settlement in Pall Mall East. II. The old Members. III. Scholars ol 
the old School. IV. Prout; and the Architects. V. Later Picturesque Landscape. 
VI. Figures, Animals, and Still Life. 

BOOK VII 
THE PRESIDENCIES OF FIELDING AND HIS SUCCESSORS 

Chapter I. The Presidency of Fielding, 1832-1855. II. Deaths and Retirements, 
1838-1847. III. Deaths and Retirements, 1848-1855. IV. The Presidency of Lewis, 
1855-1858. V. The Presidency of Tayler, 1858-1870. VI. The Presidency of 
Gilbert. 

BOOK VIII 
OLD MEMBERS WHO SURVIVED FIELDING 

Chapter I. Exits, :856-i859. II. Exits, 1859-1862. III. Exits, 1863-1865. IV. Exits, 

1866-1889. 

BOOK IX 
ACCESSIONS UNDER FIELDING 

Chapter I. New Associates, 1832-1837. II. New Associates, 1838-1847. III. New 
Associates, 1848-1849. IV. New Associates, 1850-1854. 

BOOK X 

LATER MEMBERS AND ASSOCIATES DECEASED 
Chapter I. Deaths 1855-18^1. II. Deaths since 1881. 



CONTENTS OF VOLUME I 



INTRODUCTION 

WATER-COLOUR DRAWING AND PAINTING 

PAGE 

The first water-colour exhibition Nature of modern water-colour art Transparent 
pigments Development of practice From monochrome to local colour Influence 
of national taste. ............ 1-6 



BOOK I 

WATER-COLOUR ART IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 



CHAPTER I 
EARLY TOPOGRAPHIC PRINTS 

Water-colours developed in application to landscape First demand for simple topo- 
graphyAllied more to history than to poetry Architect draftsmen Maps and 
bird's-eye views Hollar, Loggan, and Burghers' Britannia Illustrata' Demand 
for ' gentlemen's seats ' Conventional perspective Light-and-shade not .used for 
'effect 'Buck's views Low state of art Boydell Kirby Highmore Scott . 7~'7 



CHAPTER II 

SANDBY AND THE RISE OF EXHIBITIONS 

Paul and Thomas Sandby Born at Nottingham Military draftsmen at the Tower 
The Stuart rebellion Go to Scotland Paul's etchings At Windsor Founding of 
Art Societies Influence of exhibitions P. Sandby's art Want of materials 
Elected R.A. T. Sandby's career Paul at St. George's Row Teacher at Wool- 
wichPatronsSir Joseph Banks Charles Greville Aquatint engraving 
Sandby's water-colours His work as an engraver ...... 18-31 



xii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER III 

GENTLEMEN'S SEATS ARCHITECTURAL TOPOGRAPHY 

FACE 

Wedgwood's Russian service An impetus to topographic art Kearsley's ' Copper- 
Plate Magazine' E. Rooker M. A. Rooker ' Virtuosi's Museum ' 'Oxford 
Almanack' Watts's, Milton's, and Angus's ' Seats 'Advance in line-engraving 
Woollett Byrne Hearne Middiman Byrne's ' Antiquities ' Rooker and 
Hearne compared Architectural draftsmen The Maltons Carter Wheatley 
Marlow 3^-45 

CHAPTER IV 

PICTURESQUE TOPOGRAPHY 

Middiman's ' Views ' Natural Scenery Gainsborough His influence His love of 
transparency His camera Wheatley in landscape Barret, R.A. Unfairly con- 
trasted with Wilson His career Sir George Beaumont's panorama . . 46 50 



CHAPTER V 
TRAVELLING ARTISTS ; AND ALEXANDER COZENS 

John Smith William Pars John Cleveley John Webber Francis Smith William 
Alexander Influence of travellers on the Water-Colour school Alexander Cozens 
His origin and marriage Teaches amateurs at Bath His method of composing 
landscapes Gainsborough and amateur sketchers Cozens's published works . 5 '-59 



CHAPTER VI 
JOHN COZENS AND JOHN SMITH 

John Cozens Teaches by example Early drawings His ' Hannibal ' Influence on 
Turner Visit to Italy with Payne Knight Buys his father's lost sketches Second 
visit with Beckford Loss of reason Kindness of Sir G. Beaumont and Dr. Monro 
Date of death Character of his art ' Warwick ' Smith His views of Italy 
New process of painting Engraved works ....... 60-67 



CHAPTER VII 
TEACHERS, DRAFTSMEN, AND DILETTANTI 

Drawing masters Sandby Grcsse Laporte Payne His 'style' Water-colours a 
fashionable amusement Society of Arts premiums Artists' materials improve 
More topographical series S. Ireland Walker's ' Copper-Plate Magazine ' Dayes 
Other draftsmen employed Patrons and collectors Dr. Mead Duke of Rich- 
mond Dr. Monro His drawing class ....... 68 79 



CONTENTS 



BOOK II 
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN 



CHAPTER I 
TURNER AND GIRTIN AS STUDENTS AND REFORMERS 

PAGE 

Girtin and Turner with Dr. Monro Early drawings Mutual relations Different dis- 
positions Turner's admiration of Girtin Girtin's birth, parentage, and early life- 
Apprenticed to Dayes Imprisonment and release Colouring prints London river 
scenes Works for architects Mr. Henderson Masters studied by Turner and 
Girtin Girtin's exhibits at the Royal Academy Sketches in Wales Teaches 
amateurs Taken to North by Mr. Moore Influence of mountain scenery Draws 
again for ' Walker's Magazine ' Changes of address Charged with mannerism 
Processes and materials Taking out lights F. Nicholson and the Earl of 
Warwick Influence of Girtin's ' style ' His perseverance Habits when sketching 
Patrons . 81-96 



CHAPTER II 

GIRTIN AND HIS COMPANIONS 

Harris the dealer Girtin's Sketching Society Its rules and members Francia His 
career Cot man As ' Thaddeus of Warsaw ' Old artist quarters Barker Pano- 
ramas Sir R. K. Porter Battle-pieces Girtin's view of London What has 
become of it? Turner takes to oils Becomes A. R. A 97-108 

CHAPTER III 

THE LAST YEARS OF GIRTIN 

I Girtin's marriage Moves to St. George's Row Studio frequented Playful letters 
Fatal illness Goes to France His Paris sketches Etched and aquatinted 
Originals at Woburn Pantomime scenes Barker in Paris Girtin's death and 
burial His private character Aspersed by Dayes Defended by family Con- 
trasted with Turner's 109-1 16 

CHAPTER IV 
GIRTIN AND TURNER AS CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS 

Girtin's relations Publication of the Paris views Fire at John Girtin's Chambers 
Hall and Mr. Jackson Gifts of Girtin's drawings to the British Museum Turner 
and Girtin's prices Turner's ' Norham 'Rival drawings Turner becomes R.A. 
Comparative estimates of art of Turner and Girtin Their respective influence on 
the water-colour school Girtin's on Constable . . , . . 117-124 



CONTEXTS 

BOOK III 
THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY 



CHAPTER I 

EXHIBITORS' GRIEVANCES WELLS AND SHELLEY 

PAGE 

Kisumi of development Water-colour art little known to general public Exhibitions 
since 1760 Absorbed in Royal Academy Water-colours ill seen there Their 
painters excluded from academic honours An independent exhibition proposed 
IV. F. Wells Birth and education Works at the Royal Academy Published works 
Connexion with Tuiner Circular to draftsmen Samuel Shelley Birth Minia- 
tures at the Royal Academy Copies from Reynolds Changes of address Paints 
portraits and ' history in small ' 125-135 

CHAPTER II 

HILLS, PYNE, AND POCOCK 

Robert Hills Birth and education Works at the Royal Academy Ardour in sketch- 
ing Etchings begun Takes pupils Drawings IV. H. Pyne Birth and education 
Pars's school Works at the Royal Academy Etchings and Illustrations Social 
qualities Historian and narrator Instability of purpose Plan of proposed society 
Survey of profession Nicholas Pocock Birth and parentage Commands Cham- 
pion's vessels Sketches at sea Settles in London Early works Paints sea fights 
Portrait by son 136-145 

CHAPTER III 

NICHOLSON 

Francis Nicholson Autobiography Birth and education Want of sympathy With 
Beckwith at York With a copyist at Scarborough At Pickering Paints horses, 
dogs, and game Patrons First visit to London Paints seats and portraits At 
Whitby Takes to landscape Mode of multiplying sketches Exhibits in London 
At Knaresborough Fraudulent copies Visit to Lord Bute in Scotland At 
Ripon Draws for Walker's magazine Travels with Sir H. and Lady Tuite 
Settles in London Engaged in teaching Power of water-colours ' Stopping 
mixture' Two impostors Society of Arts and the drawing-masters . . 146-164 

CHAPTER IV 

THE VARLEYS ; NATTES J AND GILPIN 

fohn Parley A. leader in the school Cornelius VarleyQl scientific tastes Their 

birth and parentage John's character and early life At Barrow's school Sketches 

with Neale Private theatricals Tossed by a bull Topographic tours and draw- 
ingsWith Dr. Monro First studio and patrons Early exhibits Visits to Wales 
Havell and C. Varley's palette J. Varley's first marriage Addresses /. C. 
Nattes Topographic draftsmen Engraved works W. S. Gilpin Drawing- 
master Birth and family Sawrey Gilpin, R.A. Rev. W. Gilpin . . 165-174 



CONTENTS xv 

CHAPTER V 
THE SOCIETY FOUNDED BARRET AND CRISTALL 

PAGE 

Meeting at Stratford Coffee house The Society as first founded Gilpin first President 
Six more members George Barret Birth and parentage Early works Exhibits 
at the Royal Academy Morning and evening effects Frugal industry Joshua 
Cristalt Classic taste Birth, parentage, and early life At Rotherhithe Taste for 
poetry fostered by mother At Blackheath Pollard of Morden and his Virgil 
Father's opposition At Mr. Ewson's Refuses china trade At Turner's factory, 
Broseley Mary Wollstonecraft Father ruined Tries china-painting Hard life 
Finds a home at Mr. Clayton's Print-works at Old Ford Short rations Lives 
with sister Tries engraving Student at the Royal Academy Walk to Rome 
proposed Practises water-colours At Dr. Monro's Early works Paints on a 
panorama George Dyer Sketching tours Adventure with Welsh miners Ex- 
hibits at the Royal Academy Addresses I7S-I9I 



CHAPTER VI 
GLOVER, HAVELL, HOLWORTHY, AND RIGAUD 

fohn Clover Popular teacher and artist Birth and parentage Writing-master Taste 
for agriculture Love of animals Power of taming birds Taste for music Early 
subjects Settles at Lichfield Marriage and family Personal characteristics 
Diligence and activity Sketching in Wales and Dovedale Boyish spirit Works 
at the Royal Academy William Havell Birth and parentage Artist family 
Irrepressible bent Sketches in Wales Exhibits at the Royal Academy Painter 
in local colour^/a/ Holworthy Birth and antecedents Friend of Turner's 
S. F. Rigaitd Figure-painter Antecedents ...... 192-199 



BOOK IV 
THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 



CHAPTER I 
IN BROOK STREET, 1 805, 1806 

The Brook Street Rooms Their antecedent uses First exhibilionof the Society (1805) 

Sale-clerk a novelty Classes of subjects Profits divided First Associates 

Their previous biographies Miss Byrne J. J. Chalon Robert Freebairn 
William DelamotteP. S. Munn R. R. Reinagle John Smith Francis Stevens 
John Thurston Glover and Gilpin Wells elected President Second Exhibition 
(1806) Its contents Profits divided Shelley and his portraits Smith a Member 
New Associates Their previous biographies Thomas Heaphy Natural v. 
Academic teaching Augustus Fugin Birth and descent Escape from France 
Mathews the actor With John Nash Architectural drawings . . . 201-223 



xvi CONTENTS 

CHAPTER II 

IN PALL MALL AND BOND STREET, 1807, l8oS 

PAGE 

The old Royal Academy's rooms Third Exhibition (1807) Royal sentries Con- 
tinued success Nattes expelled His subsequent career Glover, President 
Heaphy and Chalon Members Freebairn dies Posthumous exhibits Biographies 
of new Associates -J. A. Atkinson Studies in Russia Published works William 
Turner Of Oxford Early drawings Fourth Exhibition (1808) Bond Street 
rooms A rival Society The Associated Artists Its founding and constitution 
Leading Members Turner and Atkinson, Members of the Water-Colour Society 
Reinagle, President Delamotte retires His subsequent career . . . 224-232 

CHAPTER III 
AT SPRING GARDENS, 1 809 TO l8l2 

At Wigley's Rooms Exhibition of 1809 Testimonials Changes to 1812 Shelley 
dies Final biography Death of Paul Sandby Final biographies of retiring 
members W. H, Pyne Heaphy Biographies of new Members and Associates 
Thomas Uwins William Payne Edmund Dorrell Charles Wild Frederick 
Nash Peter De Wint Copley Fielding William Westall .'. . 233-265 

A 

CHAPTER IV 

FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 

Statistics Decline of prosperity Further history of ' Associated Artists ' Their 
decline and fall Proposal to extend the Society Its dissolution Final biographies 
of retiring Members Wells Rigaud Reinagle Chalon The ' Sketching 
Society 1 Westall 266-284 



BOOK V 

THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 



CHAPTER I 
A NEW SOCIETY 

Reconstitution Oil pictures, portraits, anil sculpture admitted Non-members allowed 
to exhibit Claim of continuity Changes of personnel An independent water- 
colour exhibition Final biographies of retiring Members Nicholson Gilpin 
Hotworthy 285 293 



CONTENTS xvii 

CHAPTER II 

MEMBERS OF THE OLU SOCIETY 

PAGE 

Retrospect in 1820 Further biographies of old Members Havell Patock J. Smith 

Barret CristallGh-vei Hills ...,..., 294 311 

CHAPTER III 
JOHN VARLEY 

Varley a central figure His pupils Generosity to young artists Nature of his teach- 
ing Exhibited and engraved works Impecuniosity Enthusiasm Blake and his 
visions Belief in astrology Published writings 312-32"; 



CHAPTER IV 
LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 

Biographies continued to 1820 Former exhibitors Stevens De Wint Turner 
Copley Fielding Sto/tNevt landscape painters Their biographies David Cox 
Charles Barber Samuel Prout G. F. RobsonH. C. Allport William Walker 
Miss Gouli/s/aitli ........... 326-359 

CHAPTER V 
ACKERMANN ; AND SOME OF HIS DRAFTSMEN 

udolph Ackermann ' Repository of Arts ' Publications Works for amateurs 
Architectural prints and draftsmen Biographies continued Pugin Wild 
f. Nash Mackenzie Uwins ......... 360-374 

CHAPTER VI 

SOME FIGURE PAINTERS 

Biographies of new exhibitors John Linnell(lo l&2Q)Luke Clennell James Holmes 

(to 1820) James S/efhano/ (\.o 1820) Henry Richler (to 1820) . . . 375-388 



CHAPTER -VII 
WILLIAM HUNT ; AND OTHER EXHIBITORS 

biography of W. Hunt (to 1820) Short notices of other exhibitors Figure and por- 
trait Sculpture Animals Topography and Landscape -The brothers Lewis - 
Norwich School Minot names , . . . . . . ^8o 

I. 



xviii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER VIII 
RESTORATION OF THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY 

l-A(;i 

Variations of success Financial report Condition of Society in 1820 Resolution to 
exclude oils Changes of membership Last days of Spring Gardens rooms New 
quarters Final biographies of retiring Members and Associates Glover C. Varlcy 
Munn Atkinson Uwins Dorrell Linnell Miss Gouldsmith Death of 
Pocock~L\st of exhibitors from 1805 to 1820 Statistics of exhibitions of Oil and 
Water Colour Society ........... 397-42 



BOOK VI 
THE PRESIDENCY OF CRISTALL, 1821-1831 



CHAPTER I 
SETTLEMENT IN PALL MALL EAST 

Resettlement of constitution Third period Exhibition of 1821 Experience of water- 
colours Fawkes collection Final biography of Holmes Elections and exhibition 
of 1822 Lease of Gallery in Pall Mall East Members and Associates in 1823 
Final biographies of_/. Smith, Stevens, and Allport ..... 423-43 

CHAPTER II 
THE OLD MEMBERS 

Increasing prosperity Amateurs excluded Loan exhibition Society of British Artists 
National Gallery Biographies continued to 1831 Cristall Barret J. Varley I 
Hills Havel! (to death) Turner ........ 434-4^ 

CHAPTER III 
SCHOLARS OF THE OLD SCHOOL 

Biographies continued De Wint Copley Fielding Cox Kulson (to his death) 
William Hunt Scott William Walker 455-47 

CHAPTER IV 
PROUT ; AND THE ARCHITECTS 

Biography of Prout continued (1819 to 1831) Henry Edridge Further biographies 
Pugin (1821 to death) Wild ( 1821 to death)/!'. Nash (1821 to 1831) C. Moore 
Essex Cattermole (to 1831) CVWza (to 1831) 472-50 



CONTENTS xix 

CHAPTER V 
LATER PICTURESQUE LANDSCAPE 

PAGE 

Biographies of New Associates, to 1831 or death H. GastineauJ. D, Harding 
W. J. Bennett (retired 1826) F. 0. Finch W. A. NesfieldS. Jackson -J. 
WhicheloS. Austin (died 1834) G. PyneJ. Byrne W. Evans (of Eton) 
T. Fielding (died 1837) . . . . . . . . . 507-531 

CHAPTER VI 
FIGURES, ANIMALS, AND STILL LIFE 

Biographies continued (to 1831) StephanoffRuhter Biographies of new Associates 
(to 1831 or death)/. M. Wright J. F. Lewis P. Williams (died 1885) A. 
Chisholm Eliza Sharps Louisa SharpeJ. W. Wright F. TaylerMiss 
Byrne (died 1837) Mrs. Fielding (resigned 1835) Miss Scott (Mrs. Brookbank, 
retired 1838) Miss Barret (died 1836) Various incidents Plans for New Gallery 
Sir Thomas Lawrence's funeral Hostile criticism New Water-Colour Society 
founded 532-558 



THE 

'OLD WATER-COLOUR' SOCIETY 

INTRODUCTION 

WATER-COLOUR DRAWING AND PAINTING 

The first water-colour exhibition Nature of modern water-colour art Transparent pig- 
mentsDevelopment of practice From monochrome to local colour Influence of 
national taste. 

THE ' Annual Register ' for 1 805 records the death of Nelson, but 
makes no mention of the following event, which nevertheless marks 
an epoch of some note in the national history of the arts of peace. On 
the 22nd of April in that year, a curious collection of 275 specimens 
of graphic art was placed on view at ' The Rooms,' No. 20, Lower 
Brook Street, Bond Street, for one shilling a head, catalogue gratis, 
Whether they were entitled to the name of ' pictures ' is a question 
still unsettled. 1 The exhibitors used that designation, and called 
themselves a Society of Painters in Water- Colours. By reason of its 
novelty at least, their exhibition, until its close on the 8th of June, 
was a source of unusual attraction to the fashionable dilettantioi that 
London season. The novelty consisted mainly in the fact of this 
being the first occasion on which so many works in the above 
material, from the hands of various artists, had been shown by them- 
selves, without the presence, in the same gallery, of pictures in oil. 
But the attraction was due in part also to the revelation it made of 
the strength acquired by an imperfectly recognized school of painting, 
las well as to the opportunity then given to amateurs and collectors 
Ipf choosing and acquiring examples of the rising art. 

The following modest announcement was printed as a preface to 
The catalogue : ' The utility of an Exhibition in forwarding the Fine 

1 In sale catalogues of the present day, it is usual to place what are called ' Pictures," 
leaning works in oils, in a different category from works in water-colours, these being still 
ailed ' Drawings.' 

B 



A 



2 INTRODUCTION 

Arts arises, not only from the advantage of public criticisms, but also 
from the opportunity it gives to the artist of comparing his own works 
with those of his contemporaries in the same walk. To embrace both 
these points in their fullest extent is the object of the present Exhibi- 
tion ; which, consisting of Water-Colour Pictures only, must, from that 
circumstance, give to them a better arrangement, and a fairer ground 
of appreciation, than when mixed with Pictures in Oil. Should the 
lovers of the Art, viewing it in this light, favour it with their patronage, 
it will become an Annual Exhibition of Pictures in Water Colours.' 
The ' lovers of the Art ' responded to this appeal. The exhibition 
did become annual, and was the virtual commencement of the career 
of what used to be commonly known as the Old Water-Colour 
Society, but has now assumed, by her Majesty's favour, the full title 
of THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF PAINTERS IN WATER-COLOURS. 

In order to give an adequate account of the events which led 
to this experimental opening of a gallery, it is necessary to trace 
back to a comparatively remote period, the growth in Britain of the 
truly national art known as ' drawing,' or ' painting,' in water-colours. 
It is, moreover, a first requisite to the analysis of such a subject, 
that the inquirer should rightly comprehend the nature of those dis-S 
tinctions between oil and water-colour art, which not only forbade the 
effective display of works of the two classes in juxtaposition, but 
divided British painting into two branches, that grew up side by side, 
each having its separate history, and each its own manner and rate of 
development. 

Between ' oils ' and ' water colours,' as means of graphic represen- 
tation, there are, it must be premised, certain essential distinctions 
not directly dependent upon the oleaginous or aqueous character o 
the fluid wherewith the painter lays on his colour. Pigments, paints 
or ' colours ' (as they are often loosely called) are either opaque 01 
transparent ; the sensation of colour received from them being pro- 
duced in different manners in the two cases. When opaque pigmenl 
is used, the light by which the sensation of colour is excited is simplv 
reflected from the surface of the paint, and modified or affected b<' 
the nature of that surface. When transparent pigment is used, th'e 
light first passes through the coat of paint, is then reflected from the ; 
surface of the material upon which that coat is spread, and finall 
passes back, through the paint, a second time to reach the eye. It i 






WATER-COLOUR DRAWING AND PAINTING 3 

obvious that, in the second case, this light is not only affected by fil- 
tration through the paint itself, but also by the nature of the surface at 
the back upon which the paint is spread. Thus, although in both 
cases the light really comes at first from the front, transparent colours 
may be said to derive theirs virtually from the back, and so to possess 
a sort of luminosity akin to that of a stained glass window. It needs 
neither artist nor optician to tell us how different must be the effect 
of the above two kinds of painting. In practice, however, the dis- 
tinction is a broad one only. There are many degrees of trans- 
parency ; and light in all cases loses something by reflection. No 
pigments are absolutely transparent, or absolutely opaque. All have 
more or less ' body,' as it is technically called ; and it is often hard to 
say whether one or the other kind of colour predominates in a given 
picture. Layers of paint, one over another, may also vary in their 
power of transmitting and reflecting light. Thus the two opposite 
qualities may be intermingled and contrasted with infinite variety. 
But, if it should happen, as it does happen, that certain effects are 
best produced by the greatest possible transparency of pigment, it 
follows that the process which secures this quality is best for such 
purpose. Herein lies the gist of the matter. Oil, when dry, becomes 
in some degree opaque. Hence it is impossible to obtain as great 
transparency with oil-colours as with water-colours ; and thus certain 
powers of imitation are almost denied to the painter in oil which come 
easily within the range of the painter in water-colour. 

In the present day, opaque and transparent pigments are commonly 

used both with oil and with water. But this was not the case during 

the last century. The union of both in the same picture was then, in 

England at least, almost * entirely confined to painters in oil. The 

water medium, on the contrary, was used either with opaque pigments 

: /alone, or with transparent pigments alone ; not with both together. 

'.Thus there have been three technical processes, each of which has 

I Jhad its own objects and proper uses, and to each of which belongs a 

I {separate history. 

With purely opaque painting in water-colours, as with painting in 
Dil, we have not much to do in these pages. Its practice began in 
/cry early times, anterior to the invention of oil painting, and, under 
various names and forms of tempera, fresco, gouache, body-colour, and 

1 There were exceptions in the practice of miniature painters : see Redgrave's Century 
\f/ J'aiiiters, i. 407. 

B 2 



4 INTRODUCTION 

the like, has been employed by artists at home and abroad, with varia- 
tions of method for its appropriate purposes. A few artists l of the 
last century painted landscapes in distemper ; and the same material 
was, and is, universally employed for the scenery of theatres. Land- 
scape painting in tempera or body-colour was practised as a method 
distinct from transparent water-colours, until modern times in the 
present century, when the two kinds of material have frequently been 
combined in the same drawing. But, before this modern partial 
introduction of body-colour, tempera painting, pure and simple, had 
entirely died out. 2 Works of that kind had little or no direct influence 
upon the rise of the school whose development has here to be recorded. 
It was in the use of transparent water-colours that it found its strength, 
and acquired its celebrity. 

It is not the writer's intention to investigate by particular examples 
the history of the changes of practice in the course of which this art 1 
was gradually expanded from the use of a single colour, and the mere 
indication of light and shade, to the employment of a full palette, and j 
an imitation of all the colours of nature. The technical view of the sub- 
ject has been carefully dealt with by the Messrs. Redgrave in several 
publications, and to the lucid epitome by the late Samuel Redgrave 
in the introductory notice to A Descriptive Catalogue of the His- \ 
torical Collection of Water-Colour Paintings in the South Kensington 
Museum (1877), little has here to be added. Although transparent 
colours had been sometimes employed in England by painters oil 
miniature portraits, and had even been successfully applied to land-t 
scape by Dutch artists in the seventeenth century, it was not until the 
second half of the eighteenth, and through a quite independent course 
of practice by our own landscape draftsmen, that the British school ofl 
water-colours came into being. Beginning with chiaroscuro drawing- , 
in grey or brown, and using the pen as well as the brush, they pro - 
ceeded to the suggestion of aerial perspective by the union of twcJ 
simple colours, drawing near objects with the warmer, and reservinJil 
the cooler for distant parts of their view. Brown with grey, or eithci 
with blue, sufficed for that purpose. Then came the cautious addition (I 
of a few transparent tints washed over these grey or brown or bluisl//, 
shaded drawings, to give some indication of varieties of local colour i j 
objects. Trees were painted green, and the sky blue, and a distinction 

1 Taverner, Paul Sandby, ' Athenian ' Stuart, Barret R.A., Ac. 

2 Redgrave's Century of Painters, i. 407, 



WATER-COLOUR DRAWING AND PAINTING 5 

made between tiles and slate, brick houses and those built of stone. 
More colours were gradually introduced. But the process was still 
two-fold. A shaded drawing was made in neutral tint with pen and 
brush or brush alone ; and this drawing afterwards stained with varied 
hues, as a child would colour a print. At length it was perceived that 
the broken ' colours, resulting from this grey under-coat's appearing 
through and modifying the brighter film above, might be got at in a 
more direct way. The same hues were obtainable by mixture. More- 
over, grey itself was the union of all the primary colours. 2 Thus it 
was found that three well-chosen paints, inclining to blue, to yellow, 
and to red, were enough, in the hands of a competent artist, not only 
to suggest the different colours of objects and their forms and shadows, 
but to diffuse throughout a landscape its proper quality of daylight. 
The essential elements of the art, in its mature form, were then well- 
nigh complete. The preparatory drawing in neutral tint was dis- 
carded. Local hues of objects, whether in sunshine or shadow, were 
painted at once as the artist saw them, and then toned down and 
adjusted with grey and such other colours as the case might require. 

To effect particular objects, certain simple methods were about 
the same time discovered and resorted to, which, without having 
special reference to variety of hue, greatly increased the vigorous 
effect of water-colour, and its power to express light by contrast 
and gradation. Richness and depth were obtained by repeated 
washes. When some progress had been made with a drawing, and 
much of the capacity of the paper to reflect light had unavoidably 
been lost under superincumbent layers of paint, it was found easy 
again to lay bare its pure white surface ; either wholly, in small well- 
defined portions ; or partially, over a wider space. This was effected 
in the first case by moistening the colour with a hair pencil and re- 
moving it entirely with an absorbent rag and bread ; and in the 
sjbcond, by washing off a portion of the pigment so as to render more 

transparent that which remained. Sparkling touches of sunshine 

i 

1 By broken colours we understand those colours ' which reach the eye mixed with faint 
White, that is to say, grey light, but in which the specific character of their hue is still ex- 
jlessed with tolerable decision.' Von Bezold's The Theory of Color, Koehler's Translation, 
Boston, 1876, p. 97. 

2 Strictly speaking, a union of all the colours, that is to say, coloured rays, in their due 
-oportions, produces white light. But an admixture of two pigments has the effect of ex- 
uding, or quenching as it were, by the resistance of one or the other, all colour which is 
ot common to the two. Hence the admixture of all the pure or primary pigments, that is 

say, those which have no colour in common, produces black or grey. 



6 INTRODUCTION 

were produced by the former means ; and, by the latter, tender 
gradations of light and atmosphere. With devices such as these, 
the use of opaque colour became altogether unnecessary ; the painter 
having acquired what proved to be as efficient, and often more ready, 
as well as more subtle, means of expression. These experiments, 
with others, more in the nature of tricks of the brush, which were 
resorted to by particular artists, may be regarded as incidents of 
practice. But the main step in advance, which effected a kind of 
revolution in water-colour art, and raised it from mere drawing to the 
dignity of painting, was the direct use of local colour, without the 
customary foundation of grey. The introduction of this method, 
towards the close of the last century, is generally ascribed to Turner 
and Girtin ; though it may be doubted whether others were not 
entitled to some share of the honour. It seems in any case to have 
marked the period when our artists began to look at the colour of 
a scene in nature as a thing of beauty to imitate for its own sake. 

To art-students of the present day, with the models now before 
them, and the materials they have at hand, it may appear strange 
that this process of painting, so obvious to them, so simple, so 
naturally adapted to the representation of what they see, one in accord 
moreover with the long-established methods of painters in oil, should 
yet have remained for so many years undiscovered, should have taken 
so long a succession of artists to prepare its way, and have only been 
reserved to men of great original genius to reduce it first into practice. 
The explanation is to be sought for, not in any want of capacity 
on the part of these early practitioners, the precursors or founders, 
whichever we may choose to call them, of our school of water-colours, 
but in their motives of action. The gradual advance in technique 
which culminated in the days of Turner's maturity will be found toJ 
have been regulated, step after step, by the nature of the demands 
made upon professional talent. Their methods of work, and th 
materials they used, were enough for the purpose in hand at the timq. 
being. As culture advanced and taste improved, other and higher 
tasks were set before them, and then they employed new method 
and needed and obtained better materials. Thus the history c, 
technical progress, fascinating as it may be to the artist and con 
noisscur, and valuable to the collector as a means of assigning its true 
period to a work of art, derives a wider interest and a higher valu 
from the indication it affords of the progress of national taste. 



BOOK I 

WATER-COLOUR ART IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 



CHAPTER I 

EARLY TOPOGRAPHIC PRINTS 

Water-colours developed in application to landscape First demand for simple topography- 
Allied more to history than to poetry Architect draftsmen Maps and bird's-eye views 
Hollar, Loggan, and Burghers ' Britannia Illustrata' Demand for ' gentlemen's seats ' 
Conventional perspective Light-and-shade not used for ' effect ' Buck's views Low 
state of art Boydell Kirby Highmore Scott. 

IT is chiefly in its application to landscape, as opposed to figure sub- 
jects, that we are able to trace the rise and development of water- 
colour painting. For its course has mainly been governed by the 
progressive appreciation of landscape painting in Great Britain. A 
complete account of the varying mental stand-points from which the 
objects and scenes and natural phenomena that come within the wide 
category of Landscape have from time to time been regarded by the 
artist's patrons and employers, would show how closely his practice 
in that branch of art has conformed to their successive valuation of 
such things and appearances, both as worthy of his representation, 
and as adapted to their own tastes and requirements. The special 
course of landscape art which has here to be followed is thus in its 
earlier stages intimately connected with the then favourite study of 
feritish topography. 1 Not only is its germ to be found in illustrations 
i/f this kind, but some of the greatest triumphs of its palmy days 
were achieved in the same service. 

I | ' The word ' topography ' is here used in its ordinary sense of place-drawing, or the 
[Description ofa particular spot. Ruskin, in Modern Painters, iv. 16 (part v. ch. ii.), makes a 
tinction between ' simple ' and ' Turnerian ' topography, as being two separate branches ot 
andscape art, the one historical, the other poetical. Mr. P. G. Hamerton, in his book on 
Landscape (pp. 170-174), seems to apply the term ' topographic drawing ' to purely imitative, 
is compared with suggestive representation, and in such sense to place it in a third category 
the scientific branch of landscape drawing. 



8 WATER-COLOUR ART IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

To modern eyes the efforts of our earlier topographers appear 
crude indeed, if we look upon them in the abstract as works of art. 
Yet, regarded in the concrete, they have qualities in common with 
some of the most artistic productions of their successors, and these 
qualities may entitle them to higher consideration than they some- 
times receive. The fact of an old topographic print's being stiff 
and devoid of the sensuous charm of beauty need not disentitle it 
to respect as a characteristic embodiment of the important features 
of the place or object depicted. The producers of such works were 
content to describe in the simple graphic language of their day the 
outward appearance, not only of the objects, but of the people among 
whom they lived, costumed as they really were, and engaged in their 
ordinary pursuits. Thus setting forth, though in a rude way, ' the very 
age and body of the time, his form and pressure,' their art, such as 
it is, preserves for us the evidence of contemporary observers ; and, 
so far, deserves the name of ' historical painting ' by a better title 
than does the fancy picturing of a doubtful event some thousands of 
years after it may be conjectured to have happened. No doubt there 
is enough to despise in our ancestors' conception of the picturesque 
beauties of the land ; but we at least learn from these topographers 
what were regarded in their time as its prominent features. They 
indicate, even by their omissions, to what kinds of visible objects 
public interest was then chiefly confined. 

It being the topographer's aim to disseminate instruction as well 
as to please, the designs of many of our earlier draftsmen are known 
only through prints, for which their sketches or drawings have been 
but the preliminary stage. Not unfrequently they were their own 
engravers. A sufficiently succinct view of this period can therefore 
be obtained from a survey of published engravings. 

In the beginning of the eighteenth century the subjects chosen 
for the exercise of the landscape draftsman's imitative skill seem to 
have been almost restricted to buildings, singly or in groups. He- 
must already have been employed in the more direct service of archi- 
tecture ; and the technical history of his art might more properlyj 
begin with the early training he received when the buildings whi 
he was afterwards called upon to depict existed only in design. The! 
English architects of the Tudor and Jacobean times, and of t 
Italian Renaissance of the seventeenth century, both drew themselves 
and must have employed draftsmen to copy fairly their original I 



CH. I EARLY TOPOGRAPHIC PRINTS 9 

designs and lay them down to scale for working purposes. Many of 
these were probably foreigners. Italians are believed to have been 
largely employed by Inigo Jones, who also was himself a powerful 
draftsman. Drawings in Indian ink executed in the early part of 
the eighteenth century from the designs of Vanbrugh, have been pre- 
served, and a great many highly-finished drawings of this kind from 
designs of Inigo Jones's were made by the architect Henry Flitcroft for 
the Earl of Burlington. The latter are in the collection of the Duke 
of Devonshire. The Earl of Burlington lived from 1695 to 1758, 
and Flitcroft from 1697 to 1767. Among architectural illustrations 
of the early part of the eighteenth century, one of the most impor- 
tant is the work entitled Vitruvius Britannicus, first published in 
1717, from drawings by one Charles Campbell. Inigo Jones's designs, 
collected and reproduced by the architect Kent, were published in 
1727; and James Gibbs's Book of Architecture in 1728. 'Most 
drawings of this date,' says a professional critic, ' have a grey and 
monotonous effect, the windows being treated as mere holes in the 
wall.' 1 It is only in recent times that the architect's draftsman has 
been called upon to present in a pictorial form sometimes even to 
glorify projected buildings. In the primitive period now referred 
to he had not advanced beyond facades and elevations in one colour. 
Perspective, as well as varied colour and general effect, followed 
after. 2 

And so it was with the topographer. But he, having to deal with 
the horizontal surface of the earth, laid down his subject first upon 
the flat, instead of upon a vertical plane. Old charts contain the 
germ of topographic landscape. They are often not merely ground 
plans, but are dotted with representations of objects of interest, 
making no attempt, however, at continuous perspective. From this 
the transition is not great to the kind of bird's-eye view which we 
have in Ralph Agas's maps, executed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth ; 
and the next step brings us to a method of topographic illustra- 
tipn employed at the beginning of the eighteenth century, in the 
\irious and interesting plates engraved between the years 1709 and 
;,63, and collected in four folio volumes under the title Britannia 

j'l 

J ' Mr. Maurice B. Adams, A. R. I.E. A., in a paper on Architectural Illustration, read 

jwlfore the Architectural Association, 12 Jan. 1877. 

]j 2 The first coloured drawing, of a strictly architectural subject, exhibited at the Royal 
(Academy, is said to have been a view of Seaton Delaval, sent there in 1815 by John 
[liobson, F.R.I.B.A., hereinafter mentioned as a pupil of John Varley's. 



io WATER-COLOUR ART IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

Illustrata. Similar plates are contained in county histories published 
during this period, such as Sir Henry Chauncy's Herefordshire, 
1700; Sir Robert Atkyns's Gloucestershire, 1712; and Dr. Harris's 
Kent, 1719. They represent what satisfied the demand for topo- 
graphic landscape throughout the reigns of Queen Anne and the first 
of the Georges. 

In the preceding century topographic illustration, chiefly the 
work of foreigners, had had more relation to pictorial art. Hollar's 
views are at least constructed on the ordinary rules of perspective. 
His original drawings, however, show less mastery of the brush than 
his engravings do of the etching-point. Of his architectural de- 
lineations the writer ' above quoted remarks that ' the shading is 
curiously executed, and at times muddy in effect. The detail scarcely 
satisfies inspection, the arcades and arches having a thin, weak ap- 
pearance.' 

The buildings of our English universities were depicted by 
David Loggan, a native of Dantzig, in about seventy brilliant prints, 
in volumes entitled Oxonia Illustrata, 1675, and Cantabrigia Illus- 
trata, 1688. There are also small views of buildings by Michael 
Burghers, in which a distinctly artistic feeling for composition and 
effect is apparent. Of these, some of the plates by him in Dr. Plot's 
Natural History of Staffordshire, folio, 1686 ; White Kennett's 
Parochial Antiquities of Ambrosden, &c., 4to, 1695 ; and Hutten and 
Hearne's Textus Roffensh, 8vo, 1720, are worthy of study. The 
aerial perspective is carefully preserved, the shadows are transparent, 
and there is about them a pleasant sparkle of sunshine. The figures, 
moreover, are judiciously placed, and the foliage is handled with more 
freedom than was usual in the artist's day. Burghers was a Dutch- 
man settled at Oxford, where between 1676 and 1723 he engraved aj 
large number of the headings of the Oxford Almanack. Among the] 
topographic representations in Kennett's ' Antiquities ' are also some j 
bird's-eye views, more consistent in their perspective than those in 
Britannia Illustrata. 

To return to the last-named work : its first set of fifty-four plat / 
was issued in 1709, and the first of its four volumes was published 
imperial folio, in 17 14, by ' Joseph Smith at y c Pictor Shop y e West 
of Exeter Change in the Strand.' Its scope is explained in a seconi 
title, which runs thus : ' Views of several of the Queen's Palaces , | 

1 Mr. Maurice B. Adams, uln snfra. 



I CH. I EARLY TOPOGRAPHIC PRINTS 11 

also of the Principal Seats of Nobility and Gentry of Great Britain 
curiously Engraven on 80 Copper Plates.' These, with scarcely an 
exception, are inscribed ' L. Knyff Delin. I. Kip Sculp.' Some of them 
extend across two opposite pages. A very few of the earliest have 
the names of the subjects in French as well as English. The second 
volume, dated 1717, contains about sixty more views, nearly all in- 
scribed ' J. Kyp Delin. et Sculp. ; ' together with a few architectural 
elevations of houses on a large scale, and one or two colleges in 
Oxford, some of which bear the names of other engravers. In the 
later plates, contained in the third and fourth volumes, we make 
acquaintance with a draftsman called Thomas Badeslade. Redgrave, 
in his ' Dictionary of the English School,' tells us that this artist 
practised in London 1720-1750, drew many of the seats of the nobility 
and gentry, which were engraved by Toms and Harris, and made 
drawings for Dr. Harris's ' History of Kent,' above mentioned, and 
some other publications. Before the third volume appeared, the first 
two were republished (Upcott says in 1724), with the following not 
very classical announcement : 

' Note. There is a Third Volume in hand, any Gentleman paying 
Five Guineas towards the Graving, may have their Seat 
inserted, it being very forward, which is only half what the 
former paid.' 

And the said Jo. Smith of Exeter Change offers the published 
plates for sale singly, and 'all sorts of Prints and Maps for Halls, 
Parlors, Stair-cases, &c.' 

We have here some indication of the kind of patronage under 
which native British art was fostered. As the figure painters lived by 
taking likenesses of the wealthy, so landscape painters found an occu- 
pation in portraying their fine houses. We shall see in the sequel how 
large a part of the work assigned to British artists has been this task 
of depicting what are called ' gentlemen's seats.' But the mode of 
treating such subjects was only in the primary stage in the first half 
. of the eighteenth century. The views above referred to are no more 
|Viiiienable to the laws of composition, or even of optics, than their 
publisher's announcement was to those of grammar. They are framed 
jit) a curious union of distinct systems of perspective, having, it may 
\, three different horizons to one picture. Of the main object, usually 
brand Elizabethan or Jacobean mansion standing amidst avenues 
ji and gardens laid out in the quaint geometrical style of the time, we 



12 WATER-COLOUR ART IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

have perhaps a strictly bird's-eye view ; but the winged observer 
drops to a lower level to survey the distant landscape ; while living 
objects in the foreground are seen as by a spectator on foot. Thus 
the bird whose eye the artist borrowed must have been of the breed 
introduced by Sir Boyle Roche ; for these ' prospects ' are taken from 
at least two places at a time. Indeed, as Cerberus managed to be 
' three gentlemen at once,' so Kip's prints are as many views rolled 
into one. Such conventional combinations were no great novelty 
after all. They had their precedents in earlier times, and were 
repeated in those yet to come. Mediaeval artists were wont to unite 
in a single scene events occurring at different moments. As they 
dealt with time, so too, in an after age, did the great Turner deal with 
space. He sometimes fetched from their true localities the component 
parts of his scene, that he might give in one coup d'csil the complete 
description of his subject. And so these early topographers of the 
eighteenth century, in uniting their three or more schemes of perspec- 
tive, and giving a peripatetic view of the scene, were merely adopting 
a different device to accomplish a like end. 

Notwithstanding the inconsistency of their arrangement, these 
representations convey a curious sense of reality. They are carefully, 
in many cases vigorously, engraved ; and the whole scene being re- \ 
presented in full sunshine, the several objects are made to stand out 
solidly from the earth ; and a certain unity is effected which prevents 
an uneducated eye from perceiving the incongruity of the drawing. 
They are full of matter ; enlivened with countless figures and objects, 1 
which, small as they are, tell their historic tale, of the habits a:id 
manners of the time. Six-horse coaches with running footmen roll 
up the stately avenues ; guests at the grand house play bowls on the 
green sward ; the master mounts his hunter for a run with the hounds ;] 
pasture and arable land are duly distinguished by herds and flocks,! 
and harvest scenes ; deer are in the park ; and heavy wains with long-J 
drawn teams lumber along the high road. Absurd as the drawing is, 
as a whole, there is in these views a picture more full and compreheri-I 
sive in its way than many an artistic landscape of modern times. Ai 
they probably supplied the demand in the most convenient way. 
this day, there are no better prints of the kind ' for Halls, Parlo 
Stair-cases, &c.' 

1 The English language wants an equivalent to the German slaffage, signifying the livii 
incidents of a landscape. 



CH. I EARLY TOPOGRAPHIC PRINTS 13 

But topographic engravings, such as these, afforded neither scope 
nor opportunity for artistic treatment, or ' effect.' There is a strong 
family likeness in Kip's views. Even when the attempt was made to 
represent a scene as it could appear to the eye, the draftsman does not 
seem to have thought of rendering it in a subjective manner. A faint 
dawn of pictorial cJiiaroscuro may sometimes be detected ; but arrange- 
ments of light made for the guidance of the eye are nearly always 
limited to the artificial darkening of the upper and lower edges of the 
print or drawing, as a sort of border to give relief and confine the 
attention to the ' prospect ' beyond or between these two parallels. 
Sometimes a shade may be thrown across the middle distance to 
separate one set of objects from another ; but the main use of shadow 
in the hands of the purely topographic draftsmen of the old school 
was to give solidity and distinctness ' to the specific objects repre- 
sented. And in the days when ' Boetry and Bainting ' were at a 
discount at Court, Beauty for its own sake is not to be regarded as 
an aim in this species of art. 

The opposite conditions under which the early topographer and 
the modern painter of landscape pursued their respective callings are 
well set forth by the Messrs. Redgrave in the following passage : 

' The exact transcript of local objects, places, or antiquities natu- 
rally required a clear daylight, unobstructed by clouds or shadows, 
and free from that mystery of light and shade, so important a feature 
in art, by which the painter gives variety and contrast, and hides any 
unimportant or ugly features of the scene. Simple literal truth is all 
that is required of the topographer. The artist's aim is general truth 
and the vivid impression of scenery as a whole, and under those 
varied circumstances which elevate it from the commonplace into the 
poetical.' 2 

Belonging to the same period, but also continued to a later date 
than the ' prospects ' of Knyff and Badeslade, are the long series of 
plates bearing dates from 1720 to 1753, by Samuel and Nathaniel 
Buck, generally known as ' Buck's views.' They may be taken to 
.present the taste and progress of topographic art in England 

CM 17 

I' fing much of that period. Samuel, who long survived his brother 
ithanicl, was the chief draftsman and engraver of this compre- 

1)0 

P See Mr. Hamerton's remarks in The Graphic Arts, pp. 348, 349, on Albert Diirer's 
HI! which the author describes as explanatory and not pictorial, the outline and shadow 
aljlig for definition, not for chiaroscuro. 
|| " Century of Tainters, i. 374. 

al j 



14 WATER-COLOUR ART IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

hensive work. ' His drawings,' says Redgrave, 1 were ' hasty and 
slight, but in some instances elaborately finished with pen and ink 
and tinted.' He lived from 1696 to 1779. His 'views/ originally 
issued in separate numbers, were collected and published in 1774, 
by Robert Sayer of Fleet Street, in three folio volumes, with the 
title Buck's Antiquities ; or 'venerable Remains of above 400 Castles, 
Monasteries, Palaces, etc., etc.,' with nearly 100 views of 'Cities 
and Chief Towns.' During the first six years (1720 to 1725 accord- 
ing to dates on the prints) the name of ' S. Buck ' alone appears 
upon the plates. That of ' N. Buck' is added in 1726. The 
drawing in these early views is feeble even to childishness. The 
subjects chosen are, curiously enough, the same which, a hundred 
years after, were treated by the greatest of landscape painters in some 
of the finest of his works in water-colours. They are chiefly the 
Abbeys of Yorkshire (Nos. 230-235, etc., in vol. ii.). A comparison 
of No. 32O, 2 ' Bolton Abbey Samuel Buck del. 1720 et sculp.,' 
with Turner's drawing of the same ruin engraved by Wallis in the 
'Picturesque Beauties of England and Wales,' 1838, would exhibit 
the two extremes of landscape art and landscape engraving. In 
these early prints of the series there is little or no imitation of 
actual texture. Ruined walls have none of the look of crumbling 
stone. Edged with fringes of vegetation neatly trimmed, like 
whiskers, they are themselves perfectly smooth, as if cut out in wood or 
card, 3 showing marvellous coherence in broken arches and masonry. 
The sky is usually expressed by a few horizontal strokes for 
clouds, or, it may be, some scanty indications of rounded cumuli. 
Generally, a large portion of the paper is left blank, all but near 
objects being simply omitted. By 1730 there is more feeling 
of texture, more general tone is introduced, and the perspective 
is more consistent. The improvement continues for the next half- 
dozen years. Some plates of 1738 and the year or two which follow 
are in a different manner, with more freedom of touch and atmospheric 
softness. The views of 'Cities and Chief Towns ' (about 10x23 
inches large, and extending across two pages) are rarely such as coj. 
be seen from an attainable point, and sometimes even partake of 

1 Dictionary of the English School. 

* The numbers and dates given are those of the copy in the British Museum Library;' 
Batty Langley's drawings of so-called ' Gothic' architecture, published in 1742, ' 
Adams declares to be ' suggestive of cast-iron.' Ubi supra. 



CH. I EARLY TOPOGRAPHIC PRINTS 15 

character of the bird's-eye representations of an earlier type. Num- 
bers, for reference to a footnote, and even names at length, are printed 
over the face of the subjects ; and that of a river may often be seen 
swimming in mid-stream, and helping the eye to distinguish land 
from water. So indeterminate is the manner of expression. A care- 
ful continuous view of the London bank of the Thames from Millbank 
to the Tower, which extends through five numbers, leaves little to 
desire as a strictly topographic record. In the latest town views, 
and in some of the gentlemen's seats, there is a better grasp of the 
subject as a whole. The foreground is often graceful, and figures 
and animals give interest and reality to the scene and show the 
habits and costumes of the time. In the other plates the incidents 
are rare ; unless it be in connection with water subjects, where ship- 
ping and boats are plentiful, and afford specimens of the high-pooped 
vessels of the period. It is difficult, however, to trace, year by year, 
the progress of improvement, as some of the dates upon the copper 
having been altered after repairs, the prints do not always bear true 
evidence of the year when a plate was first issued. 

Contemporary works of the same class, though of various degrees 
of merit, were much of the same average quality as Buck's views. 
Topography had greatly declined since the days of Loggan, Burghers, 
and Hollar, and had not as yet regained new strength. In Dr. 
Stukelefs antiquarian publications (1740 to 1743), for example, the 
views are contemptible. 

But the art of engraving had sunk so low as to be incapable of 
doing justice to drawings of any artistic refinement. Boydell declares ' 
that in or about 1740, when he was apprenticed to Toms, there were 
no engravers of any eminence in this country. This appears to be 
strictly true with regard to landscape. And in ' historical ' engraving 
(so-called) Vertue, and perhaps Hogarth, had hitherto stood alone as 
representatives of native talent. Better times were soon to follow, 
and at the end of the same decade, when the art had been studied by 
young Englishmen abroad, an important school of engraving was 
l *^<iut to arise in this country. 2 But many more years had to elapse 

Jrire the best hands came to be employed in translating for the 
/ n .-ral eye the works of our topographic draftsmen. 

' iBoydell himself, who did so much by his liberality and enterprise 

lief 

1 Preface to his collection of views republished in 1790. 

2 See Pye's Patronage of British Art, 54, 55. 



16 WATER-COLOUR ART IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK. r 

to foster native talent for art, did indeed assist by the work of his 
own hand, and, with such limited graphic power as he possessed, in 
raising the level even of this branch of art. The first step towards 
the acquirement of his fortune was the publication by him, in 1741, 
when he was a young man of twenty-two, of some shilling views in 
and about London. They afterwards were extended to other parts 
of England, and included Castles and Mountainous Views in Wales, 
and were carried on till 1755. They were certainly a considerable 
advance upon Stukeley, and even upon Buck. ' These views,' says John 
Pye, 1 writing in 1845, 'looked at now, the distance of nearly a century 
from their date of publication, are remarkable evidence of the changes 
which that space of time has made, alike in the various localities they 
represent, in the public taste for works of art, and in the state of art 
itself. In the present day such talent as they evince would not 
enable an artist to live ; yet they originated for Mr. Boydell the fame 
and fortune which he acquired.' 

Among the topographic prints of this period there were twelve 
views of Monasteries, Castles, Ancient Churches and Monuments in 
the County of Suffolk, drawn and etched by John Joshua Kirby, 8vo, 
1748. These, with a number of others, were made by him for an 
intended history of that county, whereof his father was a local 
antiquary. Kirby's name became well known afterwards by his 
activity in the affairs of his profession, and his career as a draftsman 
is linked with later and more artistic times by a tradition that it 
originated in an early friendship with a much more distinguished 
man, Thomas Gainsborough. Born in 1716, he was eleven years old 
when that painter came into being, and his friend had attained that 
age when Kirby began business as a coach and house painter at 
Ipswich. In that town Gainsborough came to settle with his wife 
in 1745, and it is said to have been he who inspired Kirby with 
ambition to try his hand at landscape, the result being these topo- 
graphic views. Others followed, engraved by John Wood, who 
worked for Boydell. In 1754 Kirby read three lectures on perspective 
at the St. Martin's Lane Academy. He became F.R.S. and 
and taught architectural drawing to George III. when Princ 
Wales. He published some works on perspective, one of whit 
Dr. Brook Taylor's Method of Perspective made Easy, &c., 

1 Patronage of British Art, 57 . 



CH. I EARLY TOPOGRAPHIC PRINTS 17 

1754, for the frontispiece whereof Hogarth designed a famous carica- 
ture. 1 His architectural drawings, some of which are preserved at 
Windsor Castle, show considerable mastery in the management for 
such limited purposes of transparent water-colours. 

Among the topographic drawings of this period should be 
mentioned those of English landscapes, with views of towns and 
buildings, made by John Baptiste Claude Chatelaine (or Chatelain},i\\e 
engraver, some of which he etched and published in a little book, 
now very scarce, entitled Fifty Small Original and Elegant Views 
of the most splendid Churches, Villages, Rural Prospects, and Masterly 
Pieces of Architecture adjacent to London, 8vo, 1750. The drawings for 
these are said to be ' hatched with chalk and thinly tinted with colour, 
having a very unpleasing coarseness of effect.' 2 

Besides the draftsmen, strictly so called, of topographic subjects 
during the period above mentioned, there were also certain painters 
in oil who practised in the same line, and from whose pictures con- 
temporary engravings were made. Among them was Antlwny 
Htghmore, son of Joseph Highmore, the latter of whom was best 
known as a portrait painter. But his works survive only in eight 
large prints of Kensington and Hampton Court, engraved by John 
Tinney about 1740. Samuel Scott, who painted marine subjects as 
well as London views, is better known, and, besides painting in oil, 
was one of the early draftsmen in water-colours. Walpole goes so 
far as to call him the father of that art. He was born in London 
about 1710, and died at Bath in 1772. 

1 Hogarth's drawing for this print was in the Esdaile collection, and afterwards in that 
of the late Dr. Percy, and sold at Christie's on 17 April, 1890. 

MS. notes by the late John W. Papworth, kindly furnished by his brother Mr. Wyrlt 
Papworth, F.R.I.B.A. 



abo 

bcf, 

1 



i8 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK. I 



CHAPTER II 
SANDBY AND THE RISE OF EXHIBITIONS 

Paul and Thomas Sandby Born at Nottingham Military draftsmen at the Tower--The 
Stuart rebellion Go to Scotland Paul's etchings At Windsor Founding of Art 
Societies Influence of exhibitions P. Sandby's art Want of materials Elected K.A. 
T. Sandby's career Paul at St. George's Row Teacher at Woolwich Patrons- 
Sir Joseph Banks Charles Greville Aquatint engraving Sandby's water-colours 
His work as an engraver. 

SUCH was the condition of topography in the middle of the last century, 
when a draftsman came into the field who had taste and originality 
enough to bring new influences to bear upon the work, and infuse an 
element of fine art into this kind of illustration. The year 1752, when 
Paul Sandby came to reside with his brother Thomas at Windsor, and 
set up there as an artist, was an epoch of importance in the story 
which these pages have to tell. The two brothers were born in 
Nottingham, and came of an old county family, but are said to have 
begun life by keeping a school together in their native town. If so, 
they must have been singularly young preceptors. For we are further 
told by the same authority 1 that, by the interest of the borough 
member, they obtained an introduction to the military drawing office 
of the Tower of London in 1741, when, if the dates of their births be 
correctly given, Thomas was twenty and Paul only sixteen. It is 
probable that the elder went there first, and the younger followed in 
1746, when he was twenty-one years old.' 2 

In this course of military drawing the brothers were doubtless 



1 Redgrave's Dictionary of the English School. 

2 Biographers are not agreed as to the dates. Bryan, Pilkington, and others gi 
as the date of Paul's birth, and say that he came to London at the age of fourteen 
1746), and, after studying for about two years at the Tower, was in 1748 ap 
draftsman to the Scotch survey. Redgrave, with others, gives 1725 as the datt 
birth, and sends him to the Tower in 1741 (i.e. at sixteen), and to Scotland in 17. 
William Sandby's History of the Royal Academy (2 vols. 1865-6), 1746 is given as 1 
of Paul Sandby's going to the Tower, 1725 as that of his birth, and 1753-4 of his 
with Hogarth, as to which see below. 



>uld 
the 






Mr. 






,CH II SANDBY AND THE RISE OF EXHIBITIONS 19 

drilled into habits of neatness which ever after characterized their 
work. Thomas Sandby was in time appointed draftsman to the Chief 
Engineer in Scotland, where, being at Fort William on duty, he was 
so fortunate as to be able to give the first news to Government of the 
landing of the Young Pretender in June 1 745. In the campaign which 
followed he was draftsman to the Duke of Cumberland, and an eye- 
witness of the battle of Culloden in the ensuing year. An interesting 
sketch which he made of the field is preserved at Windsor Castle. 1 

Redgrave, in his Dictionary, asserts that Tom Sandby also followed 
the Duke in his Flanders campaigns. There is in the Queen's collec- 
tion a view by him of ' the Diest, from the camp at Meldart,' dated 
1747 ; and Mr. William Sandby has some undated sketches of the camp 
near Maestricht, &c.' 2 When the Stuart rebellion had been crushed, 
Tom Sandby received the peaceful post of Deputy Ranger of Windsor 
Great Park, of which the Duke of Cumberland was Ranger; and his 
brother Paul was sent to Scotland as draftsman to a survey of the 
Northern and Western Highlands undertaken by Government for the 
improvement of the roads. In the romantic scenery by which he was 
now surrounded, the artist element in Paul Sandby's disposition 
asserted its predominance. He drew the plans required of him, but 
at the same time indulged his pencil in making picturesque sketches. 
After a time, growing weary of his allotted task, and taking more and 
more delight in this employment of his leisure, he abandoned the 
military career for that of the artist. To the practice of topographic 
drawing he thus brought the correct training of the surveyor's office, 
and with it a free habit of sketching from nature, for which he had 
enjoyed opportunities such as had fallen to the lot of few of his 
predecessors. 

For the most part, the sketches which he made in Scotland 
scarcely prepare us to expect the devotion to accurate local truth 
which he exhibits in subsequent works. They are graceful combina- 
tions of hill and dale, foliage, rock, and cloud, with cattle and figures 
combined in easy grouping. We know them chiefly in a series of 
a :ed etchings, mostly on a small scale, published for him (by 
" e ' c ^s. Ryland & Bryce) on his return to London. These have 
;iig in them of dry topography, nor much indeed of local character. 



1, 

Ij was exhibited at the ( 
J-ljlon of works by the bro 



Grosvenor Gallery in the winter of 1877-78 ; and in a loan 
by the brothers Sandby, at Nottingham in 1884. 



All these were exhibited at Nottingham in 1884. 



C 2 




20 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK. r 

In a larger ' East View of Stirling Castle,' dated 1751, and a ' West 
View of the City of Edinburgh,' published by Robert Sayer and 
Hen. Ovcrton, 1753 (with French title added), he however appears 
already as an able topographic artist. 

Thus in the commencement of his career he showed some of the 
skill as an engraver which, later in life, he turned to an important 
account as an aid to landscape art. ' His style of etching,' says a well- 
informed critic, ' has much of the freedom of Rooker, Vivares, and 
Chatelain. In the works of these artists, and of T. Major, will be 
found the first examples of free as well as finished style, which, owing 
to the prevalent character given to it by etching, constituted the 
peculiar excellence of the practice of landscape line engraving in this 
country from about the middle of the eighteenth century.' ' 

A few of Sandby's etchings, dated September 1750, are inscribed 
' etched on the spot.' Among them are clever, and characteristic 
figures, both inserted in the landscapes and drawn separately. One 
portrays, in a half-length group, some of the company, perhaps the 
host too, at' John Balfour's Coffee-house at Edinburgh, 1752,' with a 
humorous programme of a concert in the background. Another trio 
of likenesses is inscribed ' Etched from the Life on Board a Scotch 
Ship,' of which it represents ' The Cook, Captain and Mait.' These 
tell us something of the lively sense of humour which, added to a kind 
heart and the bearing of a gentleman, made Paul Sandby a general 
favourite in society, and also furnished him, when he chose to use it, 
with a not inefficient weapon in professional controversy. 

It was with these antecedents that the painter took up his 
residence, in 1752, with the Deputy Ranger at Windsor. His position, 
with the high connections his brother had formed, was one which, 
while it held out promise of advancement to the young man of talent 
that he had proved himself to be, gave to both the Sandbys some 
voice in the deliberations of the world of art. Paul entered indus- 
triously upon the work of his calling, sketching everything in the 
neighbourhood, and at the same time took an active part in p-% 
moling the interests of the profession he had espoused. 

The time was one of national awakening in matters of tast 
this year, 1752, Reynolds returned to England. Zuccarelli canfje| 
and Cipriani the year after. Wilson was still in Italy, and <lfl|lj 
borough at Ipswich. The talents of several of our best engju 
1 Library of the Fine Arts, iii. 379, &c. 






I 



CH. II SANDBY AND THE RISE OF EXHIBITIONS 21 

(Strange, Woollctt, and others) had already begun to be acknowledged. 
British artists of ability were springing into existence. But they were 
not as yet associated in any public body, regularly organized to promote 
the joint interests of their craft. They had educated themselves at a 
subscription studio in Peter's Court, St. Martin's Lane, founded by 
Hogarth some twenty years before, where each man paid his quota 
to defray the rent and provide a living model. They called it an 
' academy,' and there seems to have been some kind of teaching, for, 
as aforesaid, Joshua Kirby lectured there on perspective. But there 
were no regular professorships, and no pecuniar)' endowment. 
Hogarth indeed provided some furniture which originally belonged 
to his father-in-law Sir James Thornhill, who had in his life-time 
made an unsuccessful endeavour to set up a school of art. In the 
middle of the last century, the ' St. Martin's Lane Academy ' was our 
artists' alma mater. Their club, and chief place of rendezvous for 
discussing the affairs of the profession, was the Turk's Head Tavern, 
nv-^n standing at the corner of Greek Street and Compton Street, 
Soho. It was there that, in the early years of King George the 
Third's reign, Sir Joshua Reynolds united with Dr. Johnson, Gold- 
smith, and others in founding the famous literary ' Club.' Shortly 
afterwards the tavern was removed to the neighbouring Gerrard 
Street. 1 

We do not hear, however, of Sandby's studying at St. Martin's 
Lane. There could not have been much for a landscape painter to 
learn there ; and he had been to a better school in the Highlands. 

In 1753 the first attempt was made in London to found a public 
academy of painting, sculpture, and architecture. But it proved ab- 
ortive. A copy of the prospectus is reprinted in Ireland's ' Hogarth,' 
which, being addressed to Paul Sandby, is evidence that Re had already 
some standing in the profession. In the following year, 1754, the 
Society of Arts was founded. It gave direct encouragement to the 
, ictice of drawing, by the award of premiums to young students of 
cut ' sexes. In 1755 a more hopeful scheme than that of 1753 was 
i;j ,'n foot for the establishment of a general institution, this time 



' 



Jee Laurence Hutton's Literary Landmarks of London, 1885. 'The Turk's Head 
Gerrard Street, Soho, the common rendezvous,' in Wilson's time, ' for all ihe 
.,,.o!ilan artists who professed ability approximating to renown.' A. Pasquin, quoted, 
rsei Home Gazette, i. 92. 



22 WATER-COLOUR ART IX EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK. I 

under the attractive name of a ' Royal ' Academy. It was not, 
however, intended to rest on Court favour, but on the support of the 
public at large. In the list of the provisional committee the name of 
Thomas Sandby appears, in company with those of Reynolds and 
other leading artists of the day. 

This project, which like the former came to nothing, was also the 
occasion of some warm party feeling in the artist world. During 
these disputes Paul Sandby was bold enough to exercise his talent 
for caricature in an attack upon the arch-satirist of his day, the 
veteran Hogarth himself, who was on various grounds opposed to the 
new scheme. The subject of Sandby's burlesque was the celebrated 
Analysis of Beauty which the great painter had published in 1753. 
The caricaturist was afterwards ashamed of having turned into ridicule 
so valuable a work by so eminent a man, and showed his respect for 
the author by suppressing the plates which he had etched. 

The publication of Hogarth's Analysis was in fact one of the signs 
of an age wherein the philosophic essence of fine art was beginning to 
engage the attention of cultivated minds. When abstract theories of 
beauty came to be formulated, and applied to works both of nature 
and art, earnest students like Sandby, who, instead of confining them- 
selves to the imitation of old masters, drew from nature and reasoned 
on what they drew, had a better chance of intelligent appreciation. 
Hogarth's treatise led to Burke's Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful 
in 1756; and to other thoughtful writings and discussions which 
followed, and, in spite of errors, and the narrowness of some of the 
views then entertained, tended to bring to maturity a taste for fine art. 
In the next attempt, made a few years later, namely in 1759, by 
a combination of artists, to obtain more effective public recognition, 
Hogarth and the Sandbys are found acting in unison. The object 
now was, not "to establish a teaching academy for students, but to 
benefit full-blown practitioners, by means of a public exhibition of 
their works. Pye, in his ' Patronage of British Art,' ' has insisted that, 
a main object of the scheme was to raise a fund for the relief o 
artists in distress. But human nature must have altered duriH g th 
last century and a half if the projectors had not also an eye tfo th 
advantage to be derived from a general show-room as a mea[ns of 
advertising artists' works with a view to sale. 

The idea had been suggested by the popularity of a collection of 

1 See pp. 91, 95. 



CH. II SANDBY AND THE RISE OF' EXHIBITIONS 23 

paintings presented by their authors to the Foundling Hospital, which, 
being there on view, had become a fashionable source of attraction. 
The result of this new agitation was the display, in the year 1760, of 
sixty-nine works of art, including ' Pictures,' ' Sculpture, Models, &c.,' 
and 'Drawings and Engravings,' at some rooms then occupied by the 
Society of Arts, in the Strand, opposite to Beaufort Buildings. 1 This 
was the first of the many exhibitions of works on sale by living British 
artists, which from that time have been annually held, ever increasing 
in size and multitude, until in our own day their name is legion. 

Next year the association broke into two societies, which held ex- 
hibitions concurrently for many years. The more important of them, 
to which the leading artists mostly belonged, occupied a great room 
at Spring Gardens, and received a charter of incorporation from King 
George the Third, in 1765. But this society was again divided by a 
secession of its chief members in 1768 ; and the seceders, among whom 
were Paul and Thomas Sandby, secured the King's more immediate 
patronage, and became the Royal Academy which now exists. 

What concerns us here is the influence of these earlier exhibitions 
upon water-colour art. When a new outlet was thus provided for 
artistic talent, an important change took place in the connection 
between draftsman and engraver. Hitherto the worker on copper 
had furnished the sole medium through which the designer's art could 
be presented to the public eye. Now their relations were altered. 
Gradually they came to be reversed. The draftsman had found a 
double market for his produce. It had now become his interest to 
make his drawing attractive for its own sake, and desirable to possess 
as an original and unique work of art, besides being suited to the 
publisher's purpose of multiplying it by the agency of the press. In 
course of time, but not yet, what had been an accessory was to 
become the principal. Instead of drawings being made for the pur- 
pose of suggesting what engravings were to be, engravings were to be 
used as after-reminders of, or in some respects incomplete substitutes 
for, drawings. In that after-time, the water-colour artist, mainly by 
the charm of colour, was able to impart attractions to his drawing 
with which no print could vie. He worked to satisfy a new demand, 
and, receiving lucrative employment from a new class of patrons, he 
finally became as independent of the engraver as the painters in oil 
had been from immemorial time. How largely, nevertheless, even to 

1 Pye's Patronage of British Art, p. 92 n. 



24 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY JSK. 

the latest period, many water-colour painters have still been indebted 
for professional emolument to the publishers of prints and illustrated 
works will amply appear in the course of the ensuing narrative. 

The topographic drawings of Sandby's school hold an intermediate 
position between the two classes of draftsmen above described. The 
style he adopted was admirably suited for the reproduction of his 
drawings by engraving, and they at the same time possessed qualities 
and beauties of their own which gave them a title to be regarded as 
independent works of art. 

Sandby also painted in oil and in tempera. But the style which 
he made specially his own, and in which his chief influence was ex- 
ercised, is that which is familiarly regarded as characteristic of our 
early water-colour school, the tinted drawings outlined with a pen, 
shaded in grey, and finished with washes of local colour. 

Artists' colourmen were unknown in those days, and Whatman's 
paper was not yet made at the Turkey Mills. In the collection ' of 
Mr. Edward Basil Jupp, F.S.A., there are preserved two curious 
letters from Gainsborough, in the first of which, dated 10 November, 
1767, that artist, then residing at Bath, requests Mr. Dodsley, who 
published Anstey's ' New Bath Guide,' to send him some of the same 
sort of paper as that on which the fifth edition of that amusing poem 
was printed, it being what the artist had long been in search of for 
making washed drawings upon. 

The second letter is as follows : 

'Bath: 26th November, 1767. 
' To Jas. Dodsley, Pall Mall, London. 

' Sir, I beg you to accept my sincerest thanks for the favour you 
have done me concerning the Paper for Drawings. I had set my 
Heart upon getting some of it, as it is so completely what I have long 
been in search of. The mischief of that you were so kind as to 
enclose is not only the small wires, but a large Cross wire at about 
| | this distance, which the other has none of, nor hardly 

any of the impression of the smallest wire. I wish, Sir, that one of 
my Landskips, such as I could make you upon that paper, would 
prove a sufficient inducement for you to make still further enquiry. 

1 See A Descriptive List of Original Drawings, Engravings, Autograph Letters, and 
Portraits, illustrating the Catalogues of the Society of Artists of Great Britain from its 
commencement in the year 1760 to its close in the year 1791, in the possession of Edward 
Basil Jupp, F.S.A., 1871, 410, privately printed. A presentation copy was bequeathed by 
Mr. William Smith to the South Kensington Museum. 






CH. ii SANDBY AND THE RISE OF EXHIBITIONS 25 

I should think my time well bestow'd, however little the Value you 
might with reason set upon it. 

' I am, Sir, your much obliged 

' And most obedient humble servant, 

THO. GAINSBOROUGH. 

' P.S. I am at this moment viewing the difference of that you send 
and the Bath guide, holding them edgeways to the light, and could 
cry my Eyes out to see those furrows. Upon my honor, I would 
give a guinea a Quire for a Doz" quire of it.' 

Thus Sandby and his contemporaries had to draw on common 
writing-paper, with such pigments as they could get or manufacture 
for themselves. 1 

Pale and weak as their drawings may now appear, they were at 
the time of their production remarkable as the first English land- 
scapes in transparent pigment in which colour was at all an element 
of consideration. Sandby chiefly used vegetable pigments. In his 
early drawings he employed the reed pen for outline. In his second 
and improved style he subdued the rigidity of his outline and, by 
repeating the tints, obtained rich and deep colour in the foreground. 2 

Paul Sandby contributed to the exhibition in the Strand in 1760, 
and to those in Spring Gardens from 1761 to 1768, about thirty works 
in all, including oil pictures and drawings in tempera. After this date 
he had added the letters R.A. to his name, and could exhibit only at 
the Academy. 

Tom Sandby had also become an Academician, and was appointed 
the first Professor of Architecture to the Royal Academy. He con- 
tinued to reside at Windsor, where he retained for life his office of 
Deputy Ranger, planning Virginia Water, and also practising as an 
architect. With a pencil less prolific than his brother's, and exercising 
less influence on future art, he nevertheless takes rank with him 
among the landscape topographers of his time. Redgrave even gives 
him credit for ' more spirit and artistic feeling ' than Paul's. Some 
early views of his native town, dated 1741-43, are in the Art Museum 
there, and four are engraved in Dr. Charles Deering's Nottinghamia 
Vetus et Nova, 4to, 1751. But these, though correctly drawn, follow 
the conventional manner of their period, and are certainly much 

1 Catalogue of the Sandby Exhibition, 1884. 
* Sandhy's History of tin Royal Academy. 



26 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK. I 

inferior to his brother's view of Stirling Castle published in the same 
year. 1 In 1761 he is recorded as the exhibitor, at Spring Gardens, 
of (among other drawings) some views of the Falls of the Clyde. 
Drawings by him, mostly architectural, are in the Royal collection at 
Windsor, and at the British and Soane Museums. Some views in 
Covent Garden were engraved after him on a large scale by Edward 
Rooker, with the dates 1766 and 1/68. Graves 2 finds two exhibits 
by him at the Society of Artists, and nine at the Royal Academy, 
between 1767 and 1782. He lived till 1798. 

By the time when Paul Sandby had assumed the rank of Royal 
Academician, he had left Windsor and come to reside in London. 
The catalogues of 1764-5 describe him of ' Du Four's Court, Broad 
Street, Carnaby Market ; ' and in 1766-8 he is in ' Poland Street' In 
or before 1773 he took a house in St. George's Row (No. 4), on the 
north side of Hyde Park, near Tyburn turnpike, where he resided 
during the latter part of his life. The gate, which stood a little west- 
ward of the spot where now stands the Marble Arch, has since been 
removed, and the name of the row of houses changed to ' Hyde Park 
Place,' the present No. 23 being that in which Sandby lived. 3 

In 1768 he also received the post of principal drawing-master to 
the Military Academy at Woolwich, which he retained for the rest of 
the century. 

The subjects which he exhibited at the Society of Artists tell us 
something of the rank and culture of his patrons and friends. The 
first work to which his name is attached in the catalogues is a view 
of Lord Harcourt's seat at Nuneham. Next year he had ' An His- 
torical Landskip representing the Welsh bard, in Mr. Gray's celebrated 
ode,' which had been published about four years. The poets Gray 
and Mason, as well as Lord Harcourt, were among Sandby's personal 
friends. In 1763 he shows us that he has been among the picturesque 
scenery of the North and West Ridings of Yorkshire, and also sends the 
first of his Windsor views, representing a gate of the Castle. After 
this date, he has in 1764 and 1767 views at the seats of the Dukes of 
Devonshire, Bolton, Norfolk, and Grafton. With these exceptions 
he finds all his subjects at Windsor. To the friends and patrons 
above mentioned may be added the Earl of Buchan and Dr. Norbury 
of Eton. 

Wealthy and cultivated amateurs were now beginning to exercise 

1 See above, p. 20. 2 Dictionary of Artists. 

3 Catalogue of the Sant/fy Exhibition, 1884. 



CH. II SANDI5Y AND THE RISE OF EXHIBITIONS 27 

a kind of personal patronage, which was not merely confined to the 
purchase of works of art, but afforded to artists means and opportuni- 
ties of study, together with the elevating influence of cultured society. 

This benefit Paul Sandby was one of the first to feel. He had 
the good fortune, by the excellence of his Windsor drawings, to attract 
the attention of a man of property, who not only bought about seventy 
of them, 1 but carried off the artist to scenes where he was enabled 
to enrich his portfolio from subjects still better suited to his pencil. 
This was Mr., afterwards Sir Joseph, Banks, the celebrated naturalist. 
He was considerably younger than Sandby. Having left Oxford 
in 1763, he came of age in 1764, and at the same time acquired the 
command of his paternal estate. In 1766 Banks visited Newfound- 
land, and in 1768 set out with Captain Cook on that navigator's first 
voyage of discovery, as naturalist to the expedition, returning home in 
June 1771. In 1772 he made a voyage to Iceland. It was probably 
after these events, and most likely in 1774, that Sandby paid his first 
visit to Wales ; for in 1775 drawings by him representing Welsh views 
are named for the first time in the Royal Academy catalogues. 

Besides Mr. Banks, Sandby had as a travelling companion the 
Hon. Charles Greville, with whom he made several sketching tours ; 
and he was also induced by Sir Watkin W. Wynn, of Wynnstay 
in Denbighshire, to extend his visits to, and his illustrations of, that 
part of the United Kingdom. The Hon. Charles Francis Greville was 
the second son of Francis the first Earl of Warwick. He was born in 
1749, and died, unmarried, in 1809. His brother, the Right Hon. 
George Greville, was born in 1746, succeeded to the title, on the death 
of their father, in 1773, and died in 1816. This second earl, another 
of Sandby's patrons, was a prominent example of the dilettanti of his 
time, and, as we shall presently see, his patronage was exercised in 
various ways to the advantage of the rising water-colour school. 

The acquaintance with Mr. Greville led to some important results. 
Sandby was indebted to this friend and patron for information which 
induced him, when past mid-age, to resume the practice of chalco- 
graphy with which he had begun his artistic career. Mr. Greville had, 
when abroad, been made acquainted with a new process of engraving, 
peculiarly adapted to the reproduction of works in Sandby's style, 
which afterwards proved of signal service to our native school of land- 
scape and architectural drawing. Its name is Aquatint, or Aquatinta. 



wings were sold at Christie's on 23 May, 1876, and many of them were then 
purchased for Ihe Queen's Collection at Windsor. 



28 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY IK. I 

If we compare a drawing with its reproduction in a print made by 
engraving on metal, or rather, if we examine the condition of the 
plate prepared for printing, we shall observe that, whereas the pen 
lines of the drawing are reproduced by etched or engraved lines in 
the plate, broad washes of colour have to be imitated by some kind 
of roughening of its broad surface. Aquatint engraving is a process in 
which the corrosion of an acid is employed to effect this roughening 
of the surface, as it is employed to eat out the groove of an ordinary 
etched line. To imitate a pen line of greater or less strength, the 
etcher so indents the metal to a corresponding depth. To imitate 
a wash, the aquatint engraver so roughens ' (more or less, accord- 
ing to the required tone) a due area on the face of the plate. By a 
union of these two processes on one plate, and the use of ink of a 
proper colour, almost exact fac-similes can be impressed upon paper 
of monochrome drawings made with pen and brush. For the repro- 
duction of designs of this kind, the advantages of such a process 
over the laborious imitation of shadows by an infinity of furrows and 
scratches separately ploughed out with a sharp tool, are too obvious to 
insist upon. Except in their final or tinting process, the drawings 
of the old school, which we are considering, were simply ' line and 
wash,' and were thus exactly suited to the aquatint method, if that 
art could be brought to perfection. 

The honour of inventing aquatint engraving is ascribed to a 
French amateur, the Abbe de St. Non, author of an illustrated 
Voyage Pittoresque des Royaunies de Naples et de Sidle, executed 
about 1767. 'Several plates,' says Bryan, 4 ' were engraved by him.' 
The painter, Jean Baptiste Le Prince, learned the process from St. 
Non, and himself employed it successfully. Le Prince is said to 
have sold the secret to Mr. Greville, who suggested its use to Paul 
Sandby for the reproduction of his Welsh sketches. Sandby took the 
hint, and applying himself to the task with his wonted intelligence 
and zeal, not only acquired great practical skill in the new art, but 
brought the art itself to a much higher state of perfection. 

The immediate result of his labour was the production of the first 

1 A broad distinction between an aquatint and a mezzotint plate (apart from the methods 
of producing them) is that, in the first, the roughening takes the form of a net-work of 
minute furrows lying entirely belmu the original surface, while the second is covered with a 
multitude of little points scratched up and projecting like very fine bristles above that surface. 

2 Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. 



I 



CH. II SANDBY AND THE RISE OF EXHIBITIONS 29 

of four 1 sets, containing twelve plates each, of views in Wales, drawn 
and engraved by his own hand. 2 The title-page of this series is 
itself a beautiful specimen of aquatinta as applied to ornamental 
design. Within an elegant Greek border, the following words appear 
in white letters upon a rich dark ground : 'XII Views in Aquatinta 
from Drawings taken on the spot in South Wales, Dedicated to the 
Honourable Charles Greville and Joseph Banks Esquire by their ever 
grateful and obliged servant Paul Sandby R.A. MDCCLXXV. N I.' 
Two of these plates bear the above date, and one, of ' South Gate, 
Cardiff Castle,' is inscribed ' P. Sandby, 1774.' This may possibly 
be the earliest English aquatint. 3 Another series of twelve plates, 
mostly dated ' Sep. 1776,' have their subjects in North Wales ; and 
a third has the date ' Sep. 1777 ' on the separate plates, although the 
first of them which has a title has the inscription 'XII Views in 
Wales 1776,' on the back of a cart. 

In these Welsh views, more particularly those of the earlier dates, 
the engraver, while availing himself of the aquatint or resin ground 
fo: his broad shadows and much of the detail, has given additional 
depth and spirit by a free use of the point, and employed other 
devices to heighten the effect. In subsequent plates he trusted more 
to the even tones of the aquatint. 

Architectural antiquities were not the only subjects that Sandby 
sketched in Wales. Some of the views belong (to use the nomencla- 
ture of Turner 4 ) to the categories of ' mountainous ' and ' pastoral ' 
landscape. These suffice to show how much too low a place in the 
history of art is given to Sandby by those who say that his landscapes 
did not get beyond mere topography. 5 Besides effective composition 
and graceful drawing, there is a natural freshness in the rural scenes, 
and trees and foliage are depicted with truth and beauty rarely 
equalled by more modern artists. 6 There is a view of ' Llanberris 
Lake, Castle Dol Badern and the Great Mountain Snowden,' which 

1 Only three sets are in the British Museum Print Room ; and the dates on the plates 
seem to show that, as bound, the second and third should be transposed to give the true 
sequence. 

2 One, of the Episcopal Palace of St. David's, is inscribed ' L. Wynn Del'.' 

3 In the exhibition of the Society of Artists, 1774, there were a number of prints 'in 
imitation of washed drawings,' engraved by F. Vispre, F.S.A. after Zucchi and others, and 
executed in the same manner. 

4 In the Liber Studiorum. 5 See Redgrave's Dictionary. 

' See 'Chepstow Castle,' and ' Denufawr Castle,' numbered II1I and XI in the last- 
mentioned series. 



30 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY I;K. I 

conveys a due sense of magnitude, and may profitably be compared 
with Buck's feeble attempt above mentioned at the same subject, on 
the one hand ; and, on the other, with Turner's poetical rendering of 
it in his ' England and Wales.' In these aquatints of Sandby's there 
may perhaps be recognised an early foreshadowing of Turner's great 
work the ' Liber Studiorum,' the plates of which are nearly of a size 
with Sandby's Welsh views, and for the first of which the aquatint 
process was actually employed. 1 

To the year 1776, if the dates on the prints are to be trusted, 
belongs a set of large aquatints of Warwick Castle, published by 
Boydell, and dedicated by Paul Sandby to the ' Right Hon. Geo. 
Greville, Earl of Warwick;' and to that and the following year a series 
of subjects at Windsor. Like the Welsh views, they were published by 
Sandby at St. George's Row. On the first, dated Sept. 1st, 1776, is a 
dedication to the Duke of Montagu. Among them, two views of the 
Terrace are enlivened with groups of figures of much individual 
character and humour. Another, representing the Castle from the 
Lower Court on the fifth of November, with bonfires, and a rocket 
going up, combines a Rembrandtesque richness in the effects of light 
with a Hogarthian clement of humour in the crowd of revellers. 

The living incidents employed by Sandby in the treatment of his 
subjects may often be used as a distinctive test for the classification 
of the subjects themselves. Thus, in picturesque compositions which 
do not seek to portray a particular place, they are but landscape 
figures of the established old-master type, with cattle and the like, 
and no individual character. But, when local facts and objects have 
to be rendered, he gives us the people of his day, as they lived, and 
becomes their true historian. This was the case in his Windsor 
views ; and a few years afterwards he recorded, in the same graphic 
way, a feature of the time so vividly that we seem, in looking at 
his work, to live with him a hundred years ago. In some large 
prints, dated 1781, &c., he depicts the soldiers' camps in Hyde Park, 
St. James's Park, the Museum Garden, and on Blackhcath, Coxheath, 
and Warley Common, which were formed in 1780, the year of the 
Lord George Gordon riots. The original drawings of some, if not all, 
of these encampment scenes are in the Queen's Collection. 

Sandby also worked from drawings by other hands, generally of 

1 See Rawlinson's Turner's Lilvr Studiorum, and Pye and Roget's Notes on Turner's 
Liber Studiorum. 



CH. ll SANDBY AND THE RISE OF EXHIBITIONS 3! 

foreign subjects ; though he did not himself travel abroad. There 
are mentioned twenty-seven views (engraved by him after P. S. 
Grignon and others) in North America and the West Indies, obi. folio, 
1768, and 4to, 1781. Some folio views in New Jersey ' painted and 
engraved ' by Paul Sandby from sketches on the spot by Governor 
Pownall, must have been executed before 1769, as the letters R.A. 
are not affixed to Sandby's name. He also executed in aquatint 
a series of large plates of classical antiquities in Greece and Asia 
Minor, after stained drawings made, between 1763 and 1766, by 
William Pars, A.R.A. (born 1742, died 1782), who was sent out by the 
Dilettanti Society to accompany Dr. Chandler and Mr. Revett as 
draftsman. The dates of execution of some are 1777 and 1779, and 
of publication 1779 and 1780. He also engraved, on a large scale, 
architectural views in South Italy after Fabris, and Clerisseau, 1 some 
of which, dated 1777-8, are published by himself, and some in 
conjunction with A. Robertson. Bryan mentions also ' a series of 
prints exhibiting the sports of the Carnival at Rome from drawings 
by David Allan ; 2 and the designs for Allan Ramsay's " Gentle 
Shepherd," by the same artist.' 

Some large views of Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth, and W'orcester, bear- 
ing date I Nov. 1778, also show Paul Sandby's skill as an engraver 
in another style. 

It is important to distinguish those of the above-mentioned plates 
which he executed himself from his own designs, from certain prints 
which were engraved after Sandby's drawings by other hands. The 
former are, throughout, original works representing the artist as a 
' painter-engraver ' (peintre-graveur), and they give a much higher and 
more just impression of his power than the latter. When he and 
another have engraved from the same drawing of his, the contrast is 
sufficiently striking. 

A series of 1 50 small prints, known as ' Sandby's Views,' must 
nevertheless be noticed as one of the landmarks in the history of that 
kind of local illustration which gave their chief employment to the 
earlier water-colour draftsmen. They will have to be dealt with in a 
fresh chapter. 

1 Charles Louis Clerisseau, born 1722, died 1820 ; a French artist who drew in 
water-colours, and assisted Robert Adam in illustrating the Kuins of Spalatro, published 
in 1764. 

1 David Allan (born 1744, died 1796) was one of the early water-colour painters of 
figure subjects. 




32 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK. 



CHAPTER III 
GENTLEMEN'S SEATS ARCHITECTURAL TOPOGRAPHY 

Wedgwood's Russian service An impetus to topographic art Kearsley's ' Copper Plate 
Magazine ' E. Rooker M. A. Rooker ' Virtuosi's Museum ' ' Oxford Almanack ' 
Watts's, Milton's, and Angus's ' seats' Advance in line-engraving Woollett Byrne 
Hearne Middiman Byrne's 'Antiquities' Rooker and Hearne compared - Archi- 
tectural draftsmen The Mallons Carter Wheatley Marlow. 

THE last quarter of the eighteenth century was the period of a re- 
markable revival in the taste for topography, which manifested itself 
in a constant succession of published works, containing views of 
objects of interest in the British Isles. The fashion seems to have 
had its rise in the following series of events. 

In or shortly before the year 1773, the Empress Catherine of 
Russia made a proposal to Messrs. Wedgwood and Bentley, the great 
Staffordshire potters, ' for the manufacture of a vast cream-ware 
service, for every purpose of the table ; ' and directed that on every 
one of the numerous pieces of which it should be composed there 
should be enamelled a different view representing ' British scenery.' 
It was a prodigious task, extending far beyond the usual limits of 
fictile or decorative art. But Wedgwood and his partner were men 
of great energy, and proved themselves equal to the occasion. At 
first they staggered a little at the proposal. . There was no full recogni- 
tion as yet of the ' beauties ' of England and Wales ; and the materials 
for such a work had to be sought for far and wide. Bentley proposed 
to despatch draftsmen at once all over the kingdom to take views 
' real views and real buildings.' Wedgwood, estimating the required 
number at two thousand, declared that ' all the gardens in England 
would scarcely furnish subjects sufficient ; ' and, moreover, that to copy 
pictures and do their work tolerably would take no less than two or 
three years. He was ' perswaded ' that there were ' not enough Gothique 
Buildings in Great Britain ' for their purpose. The partners, however, 
set zealously to work. Besides sending persons about with a camera 



CH. in GENTLEMEN'S SEATS -ARCHITECTURAL TOPOGRAPHY 33 

obscura, they ransacked the print-shops, and made every inquiry they 
could think of for ' the most embelished views, the most beautiful Land- 
skips, with Gothique Ruins, Grecian Temples, and the most Elegant 
Buildings ' which our country could furnish. From these sources they 
eventually succeeded in obtaining a sufficient variety of subjects to 
execute the order, and painted on the different articles 1,282 views, 
no two of which were alike. They were executed in monochrome, 
' in enamel of a delicate black, which permits a shading and finish.' 
The service when complete was exhibited for a month in June and 
July, 1/74, before going to Russia, at the manufacturers' new show- 
rooms in Greek Street, Soho, and became a great source of attraction 
in the London world. The catalogue described it as, ' A Complete 
set of Porcelain or Queen's ware, ornamented with different views of 
the ruins, country-houses, parks, gardens, and picturesque landscapes 
of Great Britain ; ' and a short descriptive preface states that ' the 
principal subjects are ruins, remarkable edifices, parks, gardens, and 
other natural objects which adorn Great Britain, and which merit the 
attention of all travellers ; ' and further, that ' the landscapes depict 
modern as well as ancient buildings every taste studied natural 
scenes as well as interiors.' 

The exhibition of this Russian service was an epoch in the history 
of British topographic art. The production, or reproduction, of the 
large number of views, thus found to be gratifying to an elegant 
taste of society, seems to have acted as a fresh impetus to that class 
of drawing, and also to have directed the course of the ensuing 
flood of activity into a particular channel, in which it long remained. 

Some of the measures which had been taken by the Staffordshire 
potters in the accomplishment of their task throw a light upon the 
state of patronage in their day. The views on the Empress's tea- 
cups, &c., had been partly copied from existing pictures and 
prints, and partly from new drawings made for the manufacturers 
from the objects themselves. In their choice of the latter as subjects 
of representation Wedgwood had had a practical eye to business, 
and showed himself keenly alive to the tastes and requirements of 
customers at home. His first thought of picturesque material was, 
as we have seen, confined within garden walls and park palings ; and 
the only drawings we hear of as ordered by the firm were of the 
houses and p\t xsure-grounds of the wealthy. Wedgwood had written 
from Etruria to his partner in London for a camera to ' take to the 

I) 



34 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK. I 

neighbouring gentlemen's seats." ' I find it will be in my power,' he 
says, 'to pay some acceptable compliments in that way.' This policy 
was successful. The county families of Stafford were ' highly pleased ' 
with their priority. ' From what I perceive in the little we have 
done,' he continues, ' I could make it well worth my while to pursue 
the same plan all over the kingdom.' But he has a fear of making 
enemies of gentlemen who might think themselves neglected, either 
by the omission of the seat of one 'when his neighbour's was 
taken, or by putting it upon a small piece, or not flattering it suffi- 
ciently.' ' 

The wary manufacturer had rightly gauged the popular estimate 
of ' British scenery,' for henceforth views of country mansions formed 
the staple of its graphic illustration. The kind of interest which 
prevailed in the time of Kip and Badcslade appears to have 
revived. Habitations of the nobility and gentry again engaged the 
pencil of the topographic draftsman. In more modern times the 
idea has still been cherished that mansions of the rich are what 
constitute the essential charm of rural scenery. Who can forget the 
typical Yorkshire servant of Mr. Kinglake's travelling party, 'who 
rode doggedly on ' from Belgrade to Stambool ' in his pantry jacket, 
looking out for gentlemen's seats ' ? 2 Views of towns, ruins, and 
country mansions again became the subjects which the draftsman 
had to depict, together with such so-called landscape as had been 
arranged by professors of gardening. Rural scenery was as yet of 
but small account. 

It seems to have been in 1774, the year of the exhibition of 
Wedgwood's Russian service, that a series of prints began to be 
published by G. Kearsley, of 46 Fleet Street, in quarto, with the 
name, The Copper Plate Magazine, or a Monthly Treasure for the 
Admirers of the Imitative Arts. Each number was to contain 'A 
Portrait of some celebrated Personage, some interesting Historical 
Subject, or some curious Perspective View Executed by the most 
capital Artists of Great Britain, and calculated to enrich the cabinets 
of the curious, or to ornament the apartments of persons of Real 
Taste.' So said the prospectus. This work was continued in monthly 

1 The above facts are related in the Life ofjosiah Wedgwood by the late Miss Meteyard, 
to whose kindness the present writer is indebted for the above extracts from a manuscript 
copy of the catalogue of the Russian service. 

1 Eiithcn, p. 23. 



CH. in GENTLEMEN'S SEATS ARCHITECTURAL TOPOGRAPHY 35 

numbers for three years and a half, and when complete it contained 
forty-two portraits, forty-two history pieces, and forty-two landscapes. 
The landscapes, with which alone we are concerned, were ' select 
views in England and Wales," almost entirely from drawings by Paul 
Sandby. 

The engraving of the first plates was the work of the last year in 
the life of an old friend and fellow-labourer of Sandby's, one Edivard 
Rooker. They had etched together (after J. Collins) a set of illus- 
trations to Tasso's Jerusalem, and Rooker had engraved some large 
views in London after Paul and Thomas Sandby respectively. 1 'Ned 
Rooker ' had a versatile talent. Besides being one of the most 
eminent engravers, he was reckoned the best harlequin of his time. 
He was now upwards of sixty, and did not live to engrave more 
than three plates 2 for the new magazine. These were published 
respectively on the 1st of October, November, and December, 1774. 
The last he did not live to see brought out, for he had died on 
the 22nd of November. The next print, representing ' Wynn Stay, 
the seat of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, Bart.,' which appeared in the 
number for New Year's Day, has upon it the name ' M. A. Rooker,' 
and was accompanied by the following announcement : 

' It is with the utmost concern that we acquaint our encouragers 
of the death of Mr. Edward Rooker, whose loss we deplore not only 
as an artist, but as a man. His demise is a public calamity, and is 
universally lamented. To console us, however, in some degree, we are 
convinced by the perspective view annexed, that genius and taste is, 
in some instances, hereditary ; and that Mr. Rooker junior inherits 
all those eminent abilities as an artist, which were so justly and uni- 
versally attributed to his father." 

1 The writer (before quoted) on the ' British School of Engraving ' in the Library of 
the Fine Arts, iii. 379, &c. (1832) says of E. Rooker: 'To his architectural subjects he 
gave a richness and freedom that have never been surpassed ; ' and of the illustrations to 
Tasso, which he cites as the finest examples of that engraver's work : ' In the boldest and 
freest style, not excepting the works of Piazzetta, whose manner, or rather force, they seem 
to imitate, yet possess more variety in the display of foliage, trunks of trees, and other materials 
of landscape scenery.' A large interior of St. Paul's Cathedral, ornamented as intended by 
Wren (after John Gwynn, R.A., with figures by Samuel Wale, R.A.), published in 1752, is 
by some considered his masterpiece. There are also plates by him in Chambers's Civil 
Architecture, Stuart's Athens, and Adam's Spalatro ; he engraved many of the headings of 
the Oxford Almanack, and etched four Italian subjects after Wilson. Graves enumerates 
eleven works exhibited by him at the Society of Artists between 1760 and 1768. 

2 ' Wakefield Lodge in Whitlebury Forest,' probably from a drawing of Sandby's exhibite I 
in 1767, ' Strawberry Hill,' and ' Datclvjt Bridge.' 

L) 2 



36 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK I 

The son, whose accession to the family burin was thus proclaimed, 
was already known as a draftsman as well as an engraver. He was 
now more than thirty. His father had instructed him in the use of the 
graver, and afterwards placed him with his friend Sandby, to be taught 
to draw and paint landscapes. He proved a worthy successor and a 
worthy pupil in his two crafts, and now holds rank with Sandby as 
one of the best practitioners in the early style of water-colour 
drawing. He is generally known as 'MICHAEL ANGELO' ROOKER, 
but his baptismal name was ' Michael ' only. 'Angelo' was a jocular 
addition, originally made by Paul Sandby, and afterwards adopted 
by his pupil. In a holograph will he names himself ' Michael Rooker, 
commonly called Michael Angelo Rooker.' ' He had exhibited 
'stained drawings 'as far back as 1765, as 'Mr. Rooker Junior,' at 
the Spring Gardens gallery. In 1768 we find him exhibiting a print 
there, of the ' Villa Adriana ' after Wilson, under his own name, 
with a separate address 'at Mr. Smith's, Long Acre," while his 
father resides in ' Queen's Court, Great Queen Street, Lincoln's 
Inn Fields.' In 1769 he was admitted a student of the Royal 
Academy, and in the following year elected an Associate. In 
1772 he exhibited a painting of Temple Bar which gained him 
much credit ; and in the same year an edition of Sterne's works 
was published with some illustrations by him. His chief works 
iii water-colour were of later date. They will be referred to more 
particularly in the sequel. At present we are dealing with him 
only as one of the engravers of Sandby's views. From 1775 to 
1777 most of the landscapes in Kearsley's serial are the work of his 
graver. 2 

The ' Copper Plate Magazine,' in its original comprehensive form, 
then came to an end. No more ' portraits ' or ' history pieces ' were en- 
graved. The topographical landscapes, however, seem to have been 
in greater demand ; for a fresh issue was commenced under a new 
name, of monthly numbers, each containing three plates of Sandby's 
views. The title was now The Virtuosi's Museum, containing Select 
Views in England, Scotland, and Ireland ; Drawn by P. Sandby, R.A., 
London. Printed for G. Kearsley at No. 46, near Serjeants' Inn, 
Fleet Street, 1778.' The form is long quarto, with letterpress to 
each plate, and the engraved part of the plate measures 5| by 7^ 
inches. A didactic preface, after setting forth the superiority of 

1 Edwardu'a Anecdotes. - Some arc by \Yalts ; a few by B. Green. 



CH. ill GENTLEMEN'S SEATS-ARCHITECTURAL TOPOGRAPHY 37 

intellectual delight over sensual pleasure, proceeds in the following 
words : 

'That such is the laudable design of the present undertaking no 
one can entertain a doubt who reflects that the student, as well as 
the admirer of the ingenious art of sculpture, 1 will be supplied with 
elegant engravings from the designs of one of the first artists of this 
kingdom at the very moderate price of one shilling for each plate, 
instead of the usual demand of from 2s. 6d. to $s. made for landscapes 
of inferior merit. 

' What a cheap and rational amusement then will these Gentlemen 
possess monthly, for the same consideration that is given for one 
night's admittance to the pit of a theatre! and in the course of a year, 
what a beautiful addition will be made to the furniture of their apart- 
ments, for less than the value of a masquerade ticket ! 

' It would be superfluous to say more of the design if the execu- 
tion is answerable, which we flatter ourselves cannot fail from the 
great reputation of the Artists engaged ; we shall want no policy of 
insurance, for in the public favour we shall find an ample reward for 
our labours. It remains only to account for the choice of our subjects, 
and in this we follow an illustrious example. The renowned Empress 
of Russia, the magnificent patroness of every useful undertaking 
calculated to improve the taste and polish the manners of her subjects, 
without corrupting their hearts, has paid the highest compliment to 
the genius and taste of this country ; by procuring, at an immense 
expence, views of all the noblemen and gentlemen's seats, and of every 
delightful spot throughout the kingdom, drawn on the spot, and 
painted upon setts of china dishes and plates. If these views appear 
so enchanting in the eyes of this great princess, surely it must afford 
the highest satisfaction to Britons themselves to have in their posses- 
sion complete representations of them on a better plan for preserva- 
tion and on much easier terms.' 

' The Virtuosi's Museum ' continued to be published for three 
years, when thirty-six monthly numbers dated from i February, 1778, 
to i January, 1781, had appeared, containing in the whole 108 plates 
in the line manner, uniform with those of the 'Copper Plate Magazine.' 
Many of the subjects which Sandby himself had engraved much better 
in aquatint on a larger scale, including seme of the encampment scenes, 

1 The word ' sculpture ' for engraving, employed in that sense in the days of Evelyn' s 
Sculptura, had not yet fallen into disuse. 



38 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

are here repeated. 1 In this new series, Rooker had a much smaller 
share than before. His name only appears as one, though perhaps 
the best, among twenty engravers, 2 who were employed upon the plates. 
He was now engaged in other work. He had followed his father 
as engraver for the ' Oxford Almanack,' the headings of which, exe- 
cuted by him for a succession of years, after his own designs, came to 
be highly esteemed. Like his father, too, he was connected with the 
stage, though he does not appear to have trod the boards as an actor. 
He worked with his hands and head, not with his feet, and was for 
several years employed as principal scene-painter to the Haymarket 
Theatre, under Colman's management. In the playbills of the day he 
was ' Signor Rookerini.' 

While Sandby's views were thus in course of publication, another 
series of a similar kind were started by the William Watts above 
mentioned as one of his engravers. Watts, like ' Michael Angelo,' 
had been a pupil both of Edward Rooker and of Paul Sandby, but 
is known chiefly as an engraver. His work is entitled : The Seats of 
the Nobility and Gentry ; ' in a Collection of the most interesting and 
Picturesque Views, Engraved by W. Watts. From Drawings by the 
most Eminent Artists. With descriptions to each view. Published by 
W. Watts, Kemp's Row, Chelsea. January 1st, 1779.' There are eighty 
plates, the subjects of which measure about 5 by 7| inches. This 
series was continued till about 1786, when Watts went abroad. At 
later dates he brought out other topographical works. 3 He afterwards 
became blind, but lived till comparatively modern times, and died at 
Cobham in Surrey in December, 1851, in his hundredth year. Red- 
grave, who gives us these facts, adds that he was ' a good French and 
Italian scholar, and a well-read man.' 

Next in date is A Collection of Select Views from the Different 
Seats of the Nobility and Gentry in the Kingdom of Ireland, 

1 The two series of views, 42 in the Copper Plate Magazine, and 1 08 in the Virtuosi's 
Museum, afterwards became the property of Boydell, and were rearranged and republished 
by him in two volumes, dated 1782, 1783, with the title ' A Collection of 150 Select Views 
in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, drawn by Paul Sandby, R.A.' In this edition 
the pages are upright instead of oblong, and the title-pages and descriptive letterpress are 
in English and French. Vol. I contains 73 English, and vol. 2 contains 17 Welsh, 
27 Scotch, and 33 Irish views. 

2 The others were W. Watts, Walker, Ryder or Rider, T. Cooke, P. Mazell, D. 
Lespinier, J. Morris, F. Chesham, Wm. Ellis, C. Duponchel, Jas. Fittler, E. Scott, W. 
Angus, J. Roberts, T. Woodyer, T. Medland, T. Collyer, T. Milton, and I. Scott. 

3 Twelve Views of Bath, 1791 ; Select Vieios in London, 1800; Sixty views for Sir R. 
Ainslie's Turkey and Palestine, 1801-1805. 



CH. Ill GENTLEMEN'S SEATS-ARCHITECTURAL TOPOGRAPHY 39 

' Engraved by Thomas Milton, from original drawings by the best 
masters.' It contains twenty-four plates, in oblong 4to, all engraved 
by Milton. The plates are not all dated, but the dates on those 
which are, extend from 1785 to 1793. Pye ' says that the work was 
commenced in 1783. Milton was a landscape engraver of much 
repute. A considerable proportion of these views are pure landscape 
subjects, not even containing a house in sight. 

In an English series which followed, and also known by the 
name of their engraver, William Angus, the views are strictly con- 
fined to representations of houses, standing in their parks and ground* 
They were entitled : The Seats of tlie Nobility and Gentry in Great 
Britain and Wales, ' in a collection of Select Views : Engraved by 
W. Angus, from Pictures and Drawings by the most eminent artists, 
with descriptions of each view. Published by W. Angus, Gwynne's 
Buildings, Islington. February i, 1787.' The dates on the platesare 
from February, 1787, to September I, 1797. 

While topographers were thus re-establishing the old connection 
between drawing and engraving, the latter art had been making 
important advances. A race of line engravers was springing up in 
this country, whose talent had been specially cultivated with a view 
to the interpretation of landscape. The father of their school was 
William Woollett. The life's work of that distinguished original 
artist and kind, good man was now rapidly drawing to a close. He 
died on the 23rd of May, 1785, at the too early age of fifty, from the 
effects of an accident. Wooflett himself had, in some of his first 
plates, employed his burin in the service of topography, upon the 
class of subjects which we have seen to be so popular gentlemen's 
seats, or their surroundings ; and he also at a later period engraved 
some continental views. 2 But his triumphs as a landscape engraver 
were in the exquisite translations which he made from pictures of 
a more ' onventional kind, and from the classic works of Richard 
Wilson, R.A. It was reserved for some of Woollett's immediate 
followers, to employ his more refined manner of engraving in aid of 

1 Patronage of British Art, 246. 

2 Some views in the garden of Sir Francis Dashwood at West Wycombe, engraved by 
him after drawings by William Hannan, were published in 1757 ; and there are plates, dated 
1760, of Foot's Cray Place and Coombank. Two views in Waller's garden at ' Hall-Barn, 
Beckonsfield,' must be of the same period. He also engraved, in 1773-4, some views in 
Switzerland and elsewhere after drawings by Win. Pars, A.R.A., and in 1779, the 
Hermitage at Warkworth, after Ilearne. 



40 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK. i 

the topographic draftsmen, Sandby's successors, who were the parents 
of the actual founders of our water-colour school. 

Three of these engravers demand special notice in connection with 
our subject, namely William Byrne, Thomas Hearne, and Samuel 
Middiman. Their names are associated with two scries of topo- 
graphic prints which, appearing contemporaneously with those last 
mentioned, are entitled to much higher rank than theirs as works of 
art. In the year 1780, when Sandby, then fifty-one, sketched the 
soldiers in the parks, and the no-popery mob burnt Newgate, and the 
Academy exhibition went to Somerset House from its old quarters in 
Pall Mall, they were all in the prime of life. Byrne was thirty-seven, 
Hearne thirty-six, Middiman thirty. Hearne had been a pupil of 
Woollett's. Byrne, though much of his art was original, or inspired 
by Woollett, 1 had studied, first under an uncle, and then abroad 
under Aliamet and Wille. Like Woollett, he engraved large plates 
after Claude, Both, Zuccarelli, Vernet, and, last not least, Richard 
Wilson. Middiman is stated in Stanley's ' Bryan ' to have studied 
under Woollett and Bartolozzi. Redgrave calls him a pupil of 
Byrne's. However that may be, he was an excellent line engraver, 
particularly noted for his skill in using the etching point. 

THOMAS HEARNF, although he served a six years' apprenticeship to 
Woollett, and worked on many of his plates, did not go on practising 
as an engraver, but was led by good fortune to devote his talent to 
topographical drawing. Coming to London as a boy, from his native 
village in Wiltshire, to learn a trade, he had shown his aptness as well 
as his real liking, by gaining, in 1763, a premium at the Society of 
Arts: and when the term of his indentures expired, he, in 1771, 
embarked for the Leeward Islands, with their new governor Sir Ralph 
Payne, afterwards Lord Lavington, to draw for him their characteristic 
features. After more than five years occupied in this undertaking, 
three and a half of which were spent in the West Indies, he determined 
to devote himself to making topographic drawings, and leave in other 
competent hands the task of engraving them on copper. In 1777 
Byrne and he combined their forces for the production of a work 
on British topography, which, while it revived a branch of that study 
that had been somewhat in abeyance, effected a distinct advance of 

1 Redgrave says 'he studied from nature and formed his own style.' The writer of the 
' British School of Engraving ' in the Library of the Fine Arts (iii. 379 &c.) speaks of him 
*s one of the chief artists who followed that of Woollett. 



CH. in GENTLEMEN'S SEATS ARCHITECTURAL TOPOGRAPHY 41 

style in both their departments of art. While Sandby and others, 
in their views of residences of the then existing generation, were 
recording the life of their own time present, Hearne set himself to 
depict the contemporary aspect of relics of the past. He travelled 
over England and Scotland in search of mediaeval antiquities, and 
in 1781 had executed fifty-two drawings, 1 of which he made an 
exhibition at the rooms in Spring Gardens. At the same time, 
William Byrne, who like himself was a student of archaeology, was, 
with the assistance of Samuel Middiman and one or two other 
skilful artists, busily engaged in engraving them on copper. The 
series of plates thus commenced extended over a long course of years. 
When complete, they were collected in two oblong folio volumes, 
entitled Antiquities of Great Britain, ' Illustrated in Views of Monas- 
teries, Castles, and Churches, now existing, Engraved by W. Byrne, 
F.S.A. from Drawings made by Thomas Hearne, F.S.A. with descrip- 
tions in English and French. London, Printed for T. Cadell and 
W. Davies, Strand, 1807.' The size of the subjects is 10 by "j\ inches. 

To the contemporary display of the talent of the two eminent 
draftsmen, Michael Rooker and Thomas Hearne, whose rise and 
professional progress has been sketched in the foregoing pages, the 
origin of British water-colour painting has sometimes been attributed. 
It would perhaps be more correct to say that in their works we see 
the culminating point of the old topographic school, which was to be 
superseded by a more complete rendering of landscape in the next 
generation. 

In the careers of Rooker and Hearne there was much in common, 
as well as in the technical practice of their joint art. At the same 
time, there are marked points of distinction. They were very nearly 
of an age, Rooker having been born in 1743, and Hearne in the 
following year. Both began, as we have seen, as landscape engravers. 
Both attained to more than common skill in the use of the burin, but 
cast it aside in after years for the more congenial freedom of the pencil. 
Both adopted the ' stained ' or ' tinted ' manner of the topographers 
of their time. But their styles of art bear witness to a difference of 
perceptive feeling ; the work of their hand seeming to accord with 

1 Redgrave {Diet, of the English School), who says they 'are dated from 1777 to 1781, 
the latter drawings exhibiting more artistic feeling.' The drawings in the engraved series of 
Byrne's Antiquities include others of earlier and later dates ; one (of ' Castle Acre Priory ') 
being as early as 1771, and some being as late as 1788 ; the dates of publication of the plates 

S' n R from 1778 to 1806. 



42 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

their personal disposition. While both were reputed men of great 
integrity, Rooker's manners are said to have been ' somewhat rough,' ' 
and Hearne's ' agreeable, gentlemanly and modest.' * 

Rooker's drawing is decided and vigorous. His colour, not inhar- 
monious as a whole, is sometimes careful in textural detail ; but often 
limited to a merely distinctive indication of general hues of certain 
objects, the grounding grey of others being left untinted. ' He had,' 
says Pyne, 3 'an excellent eye for the picturesque. Many of his 
representations of ancient remains are drawn with truth and charac- 
teristic detail. . . The views of the colleges on the Oxford Almanack 
which were drawn and engraved by this artist,' adds the same critic, 
' alone would remain sufficient testimony of his abilities.' His ' groups 
of figures ' too are ' well drawn and well introduced.' 4 But his views 
suggest little beyond what they actually depict. They are devoid of 
poetry, and, in sense of beauty of atmospheric gradations, are far 
inferior to the works of his confrere. 

To Hearne the critics have justly assigned the higher place. 
' Following Sandby and Rooker, and next in succession to them,' he is 
held by Redgrave 5 to have ' greatly advanced the new art of water- 
colours. Though weak in colour, his truth and correctness of drawing, 
his tasteful finish and composition, added a new charm to the art. 
He used the pen, but less obtrusively than his predecessors, sometimes 
so tenderly in tint that, while adding greatly to the minute beauty of 
his architectural forms, it gives a most delicate sharpness and comple- 
tion.' Pilkington 6 says of Hearne's works that 'though not remark- 
ably numerous, they are eminently distinguished for some of the best 
qualities of the art. He seldom attempted the bolder effects of 
nature ; but for truth, a chaste and mild tone of colouring, and an 
admirable judgment in the arrangement .of the whole, they have 
seldom been surpassed ; and it is not too much to say, that he was 
the father of all that is good in that species of art, namely, landscape 
in water-colours, which has so widely and conspicuously diffused itself, 
and is peculiar to this country.' He ' substituted for Indian ink in 
the shadows a fine grey tint, opposing a pleasing warm hue to it, and 
by a judicious employment of the two produced great harmony.' 7 

1 Edwards's Anecdotes, 264. 2 Pilkington's Dictionary, 

* Somerset House Gazette, i. 65. * Redgrave's Descriptive Catalogue, 13. 

5 Dictionary of the English School. ' General Dictionary of Painters. 
7 MS. Notes by I'anworth. 



CH. Ill GENTLEMEN'S SEATS ARCHITECTURAL TOPOGRAPHY 43 

Graves finds that between the years 1765 and 1806 he exhibited 
seventy-eight works ; forty-two at the Incorporated Society of Artists, 
twelve at the Free Society, and twenty-four at the Royal Academy. 
Drawings by him were engraved in other works besides the 
' Antiquities,' and in separate prints. Three of ' Watts's Seats ' are 
from his designs. His subjects are generally ruins of Gothic architec- 
ture, but there are at the British Museum some views of Greek temples 
in Sicily, executed by him in conjunction with Mr. Charles Gore. 

Contrasting somewhat with the artists just mentioned, but be- 
longing to the same topographic group, and working with the same 
materials and method, were a set of draftsmen who more strictly repre- 
sent the architectural element in the illustration of their time. Less 
picturesque in their choice of subjects than Rooker and Hearne, and 
still more prosaic than the former, they perhaps were better fitted, by 
a precise manner and neat manipulation, for the particular kind of 
work which they undertook. The most conspicuous among these 
were Thomas Malton and John Carter, both born in 1748, and 
therefore four years younger than Hearne. The former was em- 
ployed to portray the modern buildings of the period, the smoothness 
of dressed stone, the symmetry of Italian facades. The latter made 
a faithful record of the features of our ancient edifices. But it was 
strictly from an architect's point of view. He did not seek to convey 
the venerable aspect of their walls as affected by time and natural 
decay. In his small views of cathedrals, in Indian ink slightly tinted, 
there is some tender sense of atmosphere. But his works scarcely 
come within the category of Landscape. 

In 1780, John Carter began to make strictly architectural drawings 
for the Society of Antiquaries, and he was so employed to the end of 
the century. Many of these, beautifully executed, of sectional and 
other views of English cathedrals (some of them still unengraved), are 
in the possession of the society. Carter is best known by his various 
engraved works. He was himself a writer on Gothic Architecture. 
He is also said to have painted the scenery of two operas which he 
composed for the stage. 

Thomas Malton, usually called ' the younger,' was the son of 
Thomas, or Thomas A. Malton, 1 a draftsman of the same class, born 
in 1726, whose age was therefore intermediate between those of the 

1 Redgrave's Dictionary. In Stanley's Bryan these two Maltons are combined in one 
personality. 



44 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY RK. I 

two Sandbys. The father is said to have gone to Dublin in or before 
1769, after failing as a London upholsterer in the Strand ; and to have 
lived poorly by teaching perspective. In 1775 he published, as Joshua 
Kirby had done more than twenty years before, a Treatise on Per- 
spective on the Principles of Dr. Taylor. Graves finds five works 
exhibited by him at the Royal Academy between 1772 and 1785, and 
Redgrave describes his drawings as being ' finished in Indian ink, 
slightly tinted,' and tells us that after living again for some time in 
London, he eventually died in Dublin in 1801. 

Drawings by Thomas Malton the younger are found named in the 
exhibition catalogues from an earlier to a later date than his father's, 
namely from 1768 to 1803 : two at the Free Society, and 128 at the 
Royal Academy. He contributed five views to ' Watts's Seats ; ' and 
there is one ' View near Bath ' by him in Middiman's series of landscape 
prints. But there is usually nothing about his works that savours 
of the country. He was essentially a drawer of modern streets, his 
education in art having been more that of a practical architect than a 
painter's. He was for three years in the office of Gandon, who erected 
some of the principal buildings in Dublin. These he made the 
subjects of large perspective drawings, tinted as usual upon a carefully 
shaded Indian ink foundation. In 1780 we find him at Bath, drawing 
the stately stone houses of that fashionable resort, and at a later date 
he came to London, where he made a vast number of views, and 
published them in a series of prints. 1 Malton also, like so many of 
the best draftsmen of his time, was employed as a scene-painter, 
and attained to some success in that branch of art at Covent Garden 
Theatre. 

There was a third artist of the same surname, possibly another 
son of old Thomas Malton, known as James Malton. He made and 
published a series of Picturesque Views of the City of Dublin between 
1791 and 1795, while the younger Thomas was illustrating in the 
same way the cities of London and Westminster. 

Thomas Malton's streets are well peopled, and enlivened with the 
incidents of the daily life of his time. Within their limits, they con- 
tinue the illustrative record of domestic history which Sandby had 
been jotting down from an earlier date. The figures are, indeed, more 

1 A Picturesque Tour through the Cities of London and Westminster, 2 vols. Svo, 1792. 
He also published Picturesque Vinos in the City of OxforJ, 410, 1802. And he taught 
Turner perspective. 



CH. in GENTLEMEN'S SEATS ARCHITECTURAL TOPOGRAPHY 45 

conventional than Sandby's, though both these draftsmen are said to 
have been assisted in this important element by the same artist, 
one who claims further notice on his own account, namely Francis 
Wheatley, R.A. 

Wheatley, though in the main an oil-painter, practised much in 
water-colours also ; and, in the washed or tinted manner of his day, 
drew both figures and landscapes well. Many of his works are the 
subjects of prints, the most widely known being that of the riots of '80, 
engraved by James Heath. Wheatley's figures are too elegant to 
have much individual character. He evidently did much more for 
Malton than for Sandby. He was born in 1747, in London, and 
learnt his art there, but painted portraits for some years in Dublin, 
where he probably came to know the Maltons. As a painter of rustic 
landscape, wherein his talent chiefly lay, he must be included among 
a group of artists with whom the Maltons and their brother topo- 
graphers had little in common. 

Although William Marlow was another artist well known for his 
views of public buildings, it was chiefly as a painter in oils. He also 
studied in water-colours, and made drawings of Italian seaports, &c. 
They were chiefly dependent on outline, and were crude in colour. 



46 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. i 



CHAPTER IV 

PICTURESQUE TOPOGRAPHY 

Middimnn's 'Views' Natural scenery Gainsborough His influence His love of trans- 
parencyHis camera Wheatley in landscape Barret, R.A. Unfairly contrasted with 
Wilson His career Sir George Beaumont's panorama. 

ALTHOUGH we are approaching the time when water-colour art was 
to emancipate itself from its old subserviency to engraving, it will still 
be convenient to employ the chalcographic publications of the time as 
a thread whereon to string our historic notes of the draftsmen whose 
works they represent. 

Distinguishable from the ' Virtuosi's Museum ' by their superiority 
of execution, and both from that work and from Byrne's ' Antiquities ' 
by the nature of their subjects, are the series of fifty-three Select 
Views in Great Britain ' engraved by 5. Middiman from Pictures 
and Drawings by the most eminent Artists, with Descriptions,' which 
were published by that engraver at 3 Grafton Street, Tottenham Court 
Road, from 1783 till 1787. They also mark an epoch when land- 
scape was beginning to free itself from the trammels of topography ; 
or, to speak more correctly, when the lines along which the two arts 
had been separately advancing had begun to converge. 

The approach on the one side had been mainly the work of 
Sandby, Rooker, and Hearne. That on the other was greatly, if 
not entirely, due to Gainsborough. That thoroughly English artist, 
though some of his landscapes may seem conventional in modern 
eyes, was the first to tell his countrymen of the wealth of beauty that 
lay wasting its sweetness in the rural lanes and woods and hedgerows 
of their native land. Wilson might shed a halo of southern sunshine 
over Welsh hills, and perch Olympian gods upon our northern cumuli. 
Taverners might copy Poussin, and Smiths of Derby make free with 
Claude. Even Gainsborough himself got something from the Dutch, 
and conventionalized after his own fashion. But in his pictures we 
have the foundation of a school of landscape which neither imports a 



CH. iv PICTURESQUE TOPOGRAPHY 47 

foreign element, nor contents itself with a mere recording of the look 
and shape of individual objects. It makes the sensation of abstract 
beauty, of form, of tone, and of colour, its leading motive in the 
selection, but still more in the treatment, of its subject ; while it seeks 
at the same time to convey as strong an impress as possible of the 
character of the scenery it depicts. It was only in the succeeding 
generation that these two principles came to be combined, in a form 
of topography in which local objects, though furnishing the primary 
motive, were subjected to an artistic treatment either poetic or merely 
picturesque, which, by exalting the theme, constituted in itself the 
work of art that charmed the spectator. 1 

Gainsborough himself, though he made studies in chalk and even 
in water-colour, was essentially a painter in oils ; and it is merely in 
his general influence on landscape art, as practised after his time by 
water-colour draftsmen, that he demands notice here. He died in 1788 
at the age of sixty-one. Had he belonged to the generation that 
succeeded his, he must inevitably have excelled in water-colour paint- 
ing. There is evidence that he had a singular appreciation of the 
beauty of transparent colour. Had he lived to learn the fullness and 
depth with which water-colours could be used, he would have hailed 
the discovery with special delight. During the latter years of his life 
he occupied himself with experiments in transparent painting, as a 
means of representing luminous and atmospheric effects. Angelo, 
in his own Reminiscences? mentions Gainsborough's admiration of some 
transparent scenery during the carnival of Venice. The absorbing 
fascination exercised upon him by Loutherbourg's Eidophusikon, 
which represented nature in a similar way, is well known. It is said 
that he was ' so possessed with the magical richness of transparencies 
that he occasionally made studies, and lighting them from behind, from 
these emulated their splendour in his pictures,' and that 'owing to this 
practice some of his latest works are remarkable for violent contrasts 
and wanting in that stillness and harmony which characterised his 
earlier labours.' 3 Impelled, itis believed, by the charm of Loutherbourg's 
show, and further entranced by Jarvis's 4 exhibition of stained glass, he 

1 'Art I define as a whole, wherein a large element of beauty clothes and makes accept- 
able a still larger element of truth.' (C. Coquelin on 'Acting and Actors,' Harper's 
Magazine, May 1887.) The definition applies to graphic as well as to histrionic art. 

2 Vol. i. p. 10. ' Somerset House Gazette, ii. 8. 

4 The glass stainer who executed the west window of New College, Oxford, from Sir 
Joshua UcynoUls's designs. 



48 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK. I 

devised and constructed a small camera or peep-show of his own, in 
which by means of slides painted by him on glass, and litup with candles 
from behind, he was enabled to depict landscapes under various condi- 
tions of light and air. In his latter years, he was in the habit of 
sketching designs for this show-box exhibition, while intimate friends, 
who called upon him in an evening stroll, sat by and sipped their tea. 1 
At the painter's death, he left the camera to his unmarried daughter, 
from whom it was purchased by Dr. Monro. 2 

Among Middiman's views there is nothing by Gainsborough. But 
some of the earliest and best are from drawings or pictures by his 
brother Academicians Francis Wheatley and GEORGE BARRET. Barret 
was a foundation member of the Academy in 1768. Wheatley was 
not elected until 1791. Their views were taken, not from the haunts 
of men, but from parts of the country where Nature had her sway 
uncontrolled ; nearly all from the scenery of the Lakes. When the 
series, originally published by Middiman, and then continued at 
irregular intervals by the Boydells, was finally made up at the end of 
i Si 2 to fifty-three views, the complete work was issued in one volume 
with an advertisement claiming for the collection the merit of ' being 
among the first to have created a taste for the sublime scenery of 
Great Britain. The Lakes and Mountains of Westmoreland, Cumber- 
land, and Lancashire, now the general resort of the Tourist and the 
admiration of the Painter, were but little noticed at the time of the 
Publication of the early Numbers, though representations of them at 
present abound.' So runs the advertisement, the historic truth of 
which there is no reason to doubt. ' Middiman's views ' mark a 
new departure in British landscape art. They had fairly broken the 
bounds of old-fashioned topography. 

A classified list of the complete series of these views shows that 

1 Somerset House Gazette, ubi supra. 

2 Gainsborough's camera was shown in W. B. Cooke's exhibition of drawings at 9 Soho 
Square in 1824, with some of the views. It remained in Dr. Monro's possession until his 
death in 1833, after which, at the dispersal of his collection, it was sold by Christie, with ten 
subjects, to Mr. Benoni White, the dealer, of Brownlow Street, Holborn. By him it was 
bequeathed to Mr. G. W. Reid, late Keeper of Prints to the British Museum. It was for a 
short time, in December 1881, to be seen at Mr. Hogarth's, the dealer's, in Mount Street. 
It was again placed on view with twelve glass paintings, by Sir Coutts Lindsay, in his 
' Grosvenor Gallery,' in the collection of Gainsborough's works in the winter of 1884 85 ; 
but, not being lighted in the manner intended by the painter, it there failed to receive due 
attention. One of the slide subjects was shortly afterwards etched by M. Brunei de Baines, 
with the name 'Worcester, a Peep between Trees.' On 29 March, 1890, it waf sold at 
Christie's, with the twelve landscapes, for 205 guineas. It is said that at a formei sale 
they were bought in at I,2OO/. 






en. iv PICTURESQUE TOPOGRAPHY 49 

they contained fifteen ' Mountains &c.,' fourteen ' Rural Prospects,' 
sixteen ' Lakes, Bays, &c.,' and eighteen ' Rivers, Cascades, &c.' 

The eight views contributed by Wheatley give a fair sample of his 
quality. They at least bear out the Messrs. Redgrave's ' estimate 
that ' his forte lay in landscape with rustic figures, treated with taste, 
but marked by an over-refined prettiness.' 

George Barret was a more conspicuous artist. But he scarcely 
seems to hold now his true place in the history of British art, owing 
to comparisons habitually made, and justly so, with some of his greater 
contemporaries, more especially with Wilson. Unfortunately for 
Barret, it is in such comparisons that his name most frequently occurs 
in the literature of art. We are accustomed to read that while poor 
Wilson (an Academician too) was suffering in neglect, and looking 
to posterity alone for the fame he deserved, and while people of rank 
and fashion, who came to sit to Gainsborough, swept by, without 
bestowing a glance on, his row of unsold landscapes, a misdirected 
patronage extolled the genius of Barret, who made (and spent) his 
thousands a year by practice in that branch of art. 

No one in the present day would venture to place Barret in the 
same rank, as a painter, with Wilson or Gainsborough. But his 
influence on the art of his time must in some degree be measured by 
his popularity while he lived. He is described as a man of genial 
disposition, playful in manner, of high spirits, and a strong turn to wit 
and humour. Pyne, who remembered him, says that he was not only 
' warm-hearted and highly esteemed,' but ' an enthusiast in his art.' 
No doubt he was indebted for much of his position and success to 
the friendly offices of persons of distinction. Edmund Burke set him 
to study the scenery of Lord Powerscourt's park near his native Dublin, 
in which city he had been employed, as greater painters 2 than he were 
afterwards employed in London, in colouring prints. When Barret 
came to London in I/62, 3 Lord Dalkeith paid him i,5oo/. for three 
pictures. In his latter days, when his health failed and he had spent even 
more than he had earned, Burke again came to his relief and obtained 
for him the well-paid and apparently sinecure post of Master Painter 
to Greenwich Hospital. Besides being an original member of the 
Royal Academy, he was one of the most active of its founders. No 
doubt he was greatly overrated. But he was the fashionable landscape 
painter of the day. His pictures gained premiums in Dublin and 

' Century of 1'ainters, i. 440. " Turner and Girtin. ' Redgrave. 

K 



50 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

in London. Graves enumerates fifty-two works by Barret in the ex- 
hibitions of the older societies and the Academy between 1764 and 
1786. Even he drew gentlemen's seats. There are five such views 
of his in Watts's series. 

A continuous view of Cumberland Lake scenery, which he painted 
on the walls of a large room at Norbury Park, then the residence of 
the Rev. John Locke, was the talk of society. According to the 
Messrs. Redgrave, 1 it was in oil, but Pyne 2 says it was painted in body- 
colours, ' or what is termed by the French, who excel in that process, 
gwashf and accounts it ' among the best of the earliest efforts of the 
English school of landscape.' The latter writer further informs us 
that this wall decoration has been regarded as the precursor of the 
cylindrical pictures which were in later years so long popular under 
the name of ' the Panorama.' It is said that Sir George Beaumont, 
on the suggestion thus afforded, actually built a small circular room 
by way of experiment, from the centre of which the spectator's eye 
could sweep the complete horizon of a Welsh view painted all round 
him on the wall. 

Barret's works are unequal, his earlier being heavier than his later 
manner ; and some of his pictures are said to have suffered from 
changes in the pigments he used. His 'stained drawings' are 
scarcely of importance enough to entitle him to rank as one of the 
founders of our water-colour school ; but he had an influence upon its 
landscape art, not only as an early painter who devoted himself to the 
representation of English scenery, feeling and portraying its richness 
and the charm of its dewy verdure at spring-tide, but by the sound 
training which he seems to have given to an artist of greater talent, 
who inherited his name and was one of the first members of the 
Water-Colour Society. 

1 Century of Painters, i. 107-8. * Somerset House Gazette, ii. 46. 



5' 



CHAPTER V 

TRAVELLING ARTISTS ; AND ALEXANDER COZENS 

John Smith William Pars John Cleveley John Webber Francis Smith William 
Alexander Influence of travellers on the Water-Colour School Alexander Cozens His 
origin and marriage Teaches amateurs at Bath His method of composing landscapes 
Gainsborough and amateur sketchers Cozens's published works. 

ANOTHER artist, of a name so common as to be of itself a drawback 
to distinction, appears as a contributor of designs for six of the earlier 
plates to Middiman's ' Views.' This was John Smith, a man destined 
to do more than either of the above to advance the art of water- 
colour painting. The last of the plates after his designs is dated 25 
May, 1785. He then set off for Italy with the Earl of Warwick; and 
it was during the next ten years that he changed his old manner of 
tinting his drawings for the more effective method of using colour 
which was afterwards developed into the practice of the modern 
school. More will be said of him by-and-by. In the mean time the 
employment on which he was engaged demands our consideration. 

While the scope of British topography had been widening, and 
an increasing number of draftsmen had thus found employment for 
their talent, a demand had arisen for artists of the same kind to 
undertake the like task beyond the limits of the British Isles. With 
the love of inquiry into times remote there had also come a thirst for 
knowledge of distant places. Voyages of discovery were promoted 
in the interests of science ; and a taste for travel, combining with the 
dilettante spirit of art, had resulted in the exploring of classic sites and 
in continental touring by persons of wealth and leisure. The records 
of these various expeditions took the form of illustrated books, for 
which the line engravers of the day reproduced many views made on 
the spot by draftsmen employed for the purpose. 

Hence arose this wider demand for workers in water-colour. The 
same simple method of drawing which they had found suitable to 
home views, proved equally available in foreign travel. For the rapid 



52 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

and permanent record of local facts there has not even yet been 
discovered a more handy and expressive style of sketching, than that 
adopted by the old topographers Sandby and Rooker ; and it was 
employed by the travelling artists who accompanied expeditions 
round the world, or were taken out by noblemen on the ' grand tour ' 
of Europe. Some of these artists played an important part in the 
formation of the school of landscape which afterwards became 
identified with the old Water-Colour Society. 

Hearne, as we have seen, had practised his pencil abroad, when 
employed by the Governor of the Leeward Islands. 

William Pars, A.R.A., known also as a portrait painter, who died 
at forty in 1782, drew Greek ruins for the Dilettanti Society between 
1763 and 1766, some of which were aquatinted by Sandby and some 
engraved in line by Byrne ; and he also travelled on the Continent 
with Lord Palmerston, and took views of Rome and among the 
Tyrolese and Swiss Alps, some of the latter of which were engraved 
by Woollett. He exhibited stained drawings at the Royal Academy, 
where Graves ' finds twenty-seven of his works, besides thirteen at 
the earlier societies' galleries, between 1760 and 1800. Ten of his views 
were in Dr. Percy's collection, sold at Christie's on 22 April, 1890. 
They were treated with an elegant sense of the picturesque, and his 
tinted greys have an agreeable warmth of tone. 

John Cleveley, a marine painter who learned water-colours from 
Paul Sandby, accompanied Mr. Banks on his tour in Iceland in 1772, 
and was draftsman to the voyage to the north seas undertaken in 
1774 by Captain Phipps (afterwards Lord Mulgrave). He died in 
1786 at about the same age as Pars. 

John Webber, R.A., was born about seven years after Cleveley, 
and survived him by about the same period. He went out as 
draftsman with Captain Cook, illustrated that navigator's third and 
last voyage, and depicted as an eye-witness the scene of his death, 
in a print engraved by Bartolozzi and Byrne. Though weak both 
in drawing and colour, some views which he etched and aquatinted 
of the places he went to are said to have been very popular. He was 
made a Royal Academician but two years before his death. 

Julius Ccesar Ibbetson accompanied Colonel Cathcart's embassy to 
China in 1788 as draftsman, but the ambassador dying on the voyage 
the vessel returned. 

1 Dittionary of Artists, 



CH. v TRAVELLING ARTISTS ; AND ALEXANDER COZENS 53 

There were other draftsmen who had been similarly employed. 
Among them is mentioned one Francis Smith, who died in or about 
1779, having made drawings in the East, in company with Lord 
Baltimore. In succeeding generations, fresh groups of artists were 
engaged in the same branch of the profession. Some of these will 
demand more special notice in the sequel ; and although it belongs 
to a rather later period, the name of William Alexander (born 1767, 
died 1816), who accompanied Lord Macartney to China in 1792 as 
draftsman, and illustrated Sir George Staunton's account of that 
embassy, deserves special mention here. His figures were spirited, 
and his topographic and architectural subjects were drawn with 
refined taste. 1 

These draftsmen are in fact the artistic ancestry of the special 
correspondents of illustrated journals of our own day. Of them may 
be repeated what has been already said of the earlier topographers, 
that they are better entitled to the name of ' historical painters ' than 
are those (Academic, Pre-Raphaelite, or whatever else they may be) 
who assume it on the strength of sitting in a studio and copying paid 
models, dressed up to represent persons who may never even have 
existed at all ; and events which, after all the artist's pains in his 
endeavour to be realistic, had (we may be sure) a different aspect 
when they actually occurred. ' Les peintres soi-disant de 1'histoire ne 
peignent pas mieux 1'histoire que la fable.' 2 

Whether, as a rule, the artists who thus travelled in foreign 
countries, or accompanied expeditions to remote parts of the earth, 
did much to develop the art of water-colour painting, may be matter 
of doubt. In their persons, however, the professional importance 
of their class of draftsmen was raised ; and by the nature of the 
subjects, their works contributed to enlarge the mind, as they gave to 
the landscape painter a wider field of observation. But it must be 
remembered that the public before whom such works have to be laid 
(the ' gentlemen who stay at home at ease,' while tliey are braving 
' the danger of the seas ') are in no position to judge of the truth of 
representation, or of the painter's appreciative taste. That power of 
his, upon the captivating strength whereof the value of his art so much 
depends the power to charm the spectator by enabling him again to 
realize a scene by which he has himself been impressed is of no avail in 

1 See account of his life and works in Redgrave's Dictionary of the English School. 
Eugene Delacroix in Rn'iie de Paris, 1829. 



54 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

such a case. We look with a curiosity inspired by the strangeness of 
the prospect or its incidents, and think less of the artistic merit of the 
drawing itself than we do when the scene is of a more familiar kind. 
Our interest resembles that of the antiquaries in the earlier days, who 
knew nothing of landscape as a fine art, and made no demand for 
pictorial quality. With home scenery the case is different, and it has 
accordingly been to the study of nature in the British Isles that we 
chiefly, or almost entirely, owe our national development of landscape, 
and with it of water-colour painting. 

There have, however, as we shall now see, been some notable 
exceptions to the rule. Among the landscape draftsmen of this 
time who were indebted to the patronage of wealthy persons for 
opportunities of study in foreign parts, there were two, nearly of the 
same age, in whose works are recognizable a distinct advance upon 
the art of their contemporaries, and who, each in his own different 
way, exercised an important influence upon that of their immediate 
successors. These were John Robert Cozens, born in 1752 ; and 
the John Smith mentioned above as one of the draftsmen employed 
for some of the earlier plates in Middiman's views. Both went to 
Italy as landscape draftsmen, but Cozens's visits to that country 
ended some years before Smith's began. The name of ' Italian ' 
Smith is associated chiefly with the technical improvement of water- 
colour art. That of Cozens is imperishably connected with its advance 
towards a higher aim and the development of its aesthetic quality. 
John Robert Cozens, more familiarly known as 'John Cozens' simply, 
came of artistic parentage on both sides. Little is known directly of 
his youth ; but he must have lived in' an atmosphere of art, such as it 
was. His father, Alexander Cozens, was a fashionable teacher of 
drawing, who had among his pupils the Prince of Wales and other 
persons of rank, was professor of the art at Eton College from 
1763 to 1768, and for a time resided at Bath, where he adopted a 
system of instruction which gained him great popularity among 
amateurs. 

A rumour,ormore than a rumour,of Imperial descent, may have shed 
a halo of interest in society over the person of ALEXANDER COZENS. 
By birth a Russian, he is said to have been a natural son of Peter the 
Great by an English woman whom he took from Deptford. As Peter 
was working in the dockyard there in 1697, it has been conjectured ' that 

1 See the Burlington Fine Arts Club Catalogue of Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, 



CH. v TRAVELLING ARTISTS; AND ALEXANDER COZENS 55 

Alexander Cozens was born about 1698, a date scarcely, however, in 
accordance with those assigned to the active period of his life and the 
publication of his writings. They seem to imply a later time of birth: 
We are told, moreover, 1 that the Czar had, by the same mother, another 
son, who became a general in the Russian service. Alexander may 
have been a younger brother. The Emperor sent him to Italy to 
study painting, whence he came from Rome to England, in 1746, 
the year in which Tom Sandby sketched the field of Culloden, while 
Paul was drawing fortifications at the Tower. 

Here Cozens married a wife, who, in 1752, gave birth to his more 
eminent son. Biographers' accounts of Mrs. Cozens and her family are 
in some confusion. Edwards 2 calls her a sister of Robert Edge Pine, 
portrait and history painter ; but Redgrave 3 says she was his daughter. 
As, according to the last-named authority, this Robert Edge Pine was 
only ten years old at the date of John Cozens's birth, this could 
scarcely be ; and we are left to suppose that she was the sister. If 
so, she must have been another and an older child of John Pine, 
engraver, who, according to the same writer, was Hogarth's convivial 
friend ' Friar Pine,' the original of the fat ecclesiastic in the great 
humourist's picture of 'Calais Gate.' But even here historians differ. 
In the roll of British artists there are Pines and Pynes, between whom 
it is not easy to make due distinction. One of a later date, the W. 
H. Pyne before quoted, whom we shall have presently to deal with as 
one of the immediate founders of the Water-Colour Society, tells us 4 
that it was Robert Edge Pine himself who was so painted by Hogarth 
and dubbed ' Friar ' by his jolly companions. The probability is that 
the engraver sat to Hogarth ; and that it was his daughter, the 
painter's sister, who became the drawing-master's wife. 

However that may be, Alexander Cozens taught drawing to the 
fashionable circles at Bath in the gay old times when there were 
' congregated there from all quarters of the globe not only the invalid to 
gain health from the thermal springs, but the idle, the dissipated, and 
also the lovers of the arts.' 5 

It was in 1771 that Sheridan, then a young man of twenty, went 
with his father's family to reside at Bath. In the same year the new 
Assembly Rooms were opened ; and Smollett published Humphrey 

1 Leslie's Handbook for Young Painters. 2 Anecdotes. 

* Dictionary of the English School. 4 Wine and Walnuts, i. 116 . 

5 Life of Sheridan, prefixed to Bohn's edition of his Dramatic Works. 



56 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY nK. I 

Clinker^ In the same year also Robert Edge Pine came to Bath to 
paint portraits, having left London in a fit of ill temper against the 
President of the Spring Gardens Society of Artists. He practised at 
Bath till 1779, and we may fairly conjecture that it was during the 
same period that his brother-in-law was engaged in giving lessons to 
the Lydia Languishes and Julias of the day in the new and fascinating 
amusement of landscape composition. 

Alexander Cozens has been styled (as have several other artists) 
the ' father ' of our water-colour school. It would be more accurate to 
call him the father of its schoolmasters. He seems to have been the 
first who professed to conduct amateurs along a royal road to the 
production of pretty pictures, without imposing upon- them the hard 
study and careful observation of nature necessary to a thorough 
practitioner in art. Dayes, in his Professional Sketches, calls him 
' Blotmaster-general to the town.' Certainly, his method of teaching 
was peculiar, and savoured somewhat of mechanical trick. Yet it 
may be fairly contended that such a method has more within it of the 
elements of thoughtful art, than the mere setting up before a student 
of objects to copy. Cozens's appears to have been suggested by some 
observations of Leonardo da Vinci's, on a saying attributed to 
Botticelli, that a palette full of colours being thrown against a wall 
would leave a stain behind it properly enough representing a land- 
scape. ' It is true indeed,' says Leonardo, ' that by the help of a 
strong fancy one may spy heads, battles, rocks, seas, clouds, woods, 
&c., in a wall so smeared ; it being here as in the ringing of bells. 
where everybody is at liberty to make them say what he pleases ; but 
then, though a fortuitous mixture of colours may start a hint, or give 
rise to a new invention, yet it will not furnish the least assistance 
towards the execution or finishing anything it has occasioned.' 
Having thus guarded himself against the charge of advocating such 
a method of inspiration as a substitute for invention, the great Floren- 
tine himself recommends a very similar course in the following 
words : 

' Among other things I shall not scruple to deliver a new method 
of assisting the invention, which, though trifling in appearance, may 
yet be of considerable service in opening the mind and putting it 

1 Anstey's New Bath Guide, upon which Smollett's account of Bath is greatly founded, 
was published in 1766. Sheridan's Rivals was first acted in 1775, and Miss Burney's 
Evelina came out in 1778. 



en. v TRAVELLING ARTISTS ; AND ALEXANDER COZENS 57 

upon the scent of new thoughts ; and 'tis this. If you look at some 
old wall covered with dirt, or the odd appearance of some streaked 
stones, you may discover several things like landscapes, battles, clouds, 
uncommon attitudes, humourous faces, draperies, &c. Out of this 
confused mass of objects the mind will be furnished with abundance 
of designs and subjects perfectly new.' 

Cozcns's process, according to Edwards, 1 was ' to dash out upon 
several pieces of paper a number of accidental large blots and loose 
flourishes, from which he selected forms, and sometimes produced 
very grand ideas ; but,' adds the same writer, 'they were in general too 
indefinite in their execution and unpleasing in their colour, for being 
wrought in dark brown or bister they appeared sombre and heavy in 
the extreme, similar in their effect to the appearance of nature when 
viewed through a dark-coloured lens.' Cozens demonstrated this 
process in a small published tract, entitled A New Method of Draw- 
ing Original Landscapes. It is obvious that the value of such a 
method lies in its application. The artistic eye looks upon all things 
with reference to their combinations and proportions of form, quantity 
and colour, and these it recognizes in an old wall as well as in a land- 
scape or other scene. The inartistic eye sees them in neither, and 
cannot perceive the analogy, or just applicability of the one to the 
other. To the mind of Alexander Cozens his method may have been 
admirably suggestive of effects of light ; as one educated under more 
modern influences will see in a card smoked over a candle the most 
delicate gradations of a Turneresque chiaroscuro. 

Pyne, commenting, in his outspoken way, upon certain tricky 
methods of teaching, which in his own later time had exercised a 
baneful influence on water-colour art, denounces, in unmeasured terms, 
this haphazard method of composing landscapes. . In the Rise and 
Progress of Water-Colour Painting in England, the elder Cozens 
claims that writer's notice, only for having, at Bath, ' too successfully 
practised upon the credulity of the amateurs of style, who frequented 
that fashionable resort of wealthy listlessness. Will it,' he asks, 'be 
believed hereafter that a professor of painting should undertake to 
splash the surface of a china plate with yellow, red, blue, and black, 
and taking impressions from the promiscuous mass, on prepared 
paper, affect to teach his disciples and those persons of education 
and elegant minds to work them into landscape compositions ? This, 

1 Anecdotes of Painting, 119. 



58 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

however, he attempted, and the charlatanery succeeded, for he had a 
host of scholars for several seasons, who rewarded him most munifi 
cently for his wonderful discovery ! ' ' 

If the first parentage of our water-colour school be too high an 
honour to attribute to Alexander Cozens, it is not necessary thus to 
cast upon him the imputation of degrading its practice. He, like 
the draftsmen who preceded him, was in a great degree a product of 
his time. His teaching was supplied in answer to a rising demand 
which he had not been the first to create. The kind of practical 
dilettantism which the elder Cozens employed his talent in fostering, 
was to exercise in the coming age a strong influence on the develop- 
ment and application of water-colour art. 

If, however, the love of landscape-sketching, which has long dis- 
tinguished English amateurs, and in our own day remains as prevalent 
as ever, is to be traced to the influence of one individual, that one is 
more probably Gainsborough. He had resided at Bath for fourteen 
years, at the end of which period he went to settle in London, in 
1774, at about the time when the career of Cozens began at the 
former fashionable resort. Although Gainsborough's large landscapes 
had but a poor sale in London, his rural scraps and picturesque frag- 
ments, executed slightly, but with telling effect, and apparent ease, 
presented models which fired the amateur with a natural desire to 
imitate, and a hope of catching their attractive manner. ' That 
inimitable painter,' says Pyne, ' unwittingly set the fashionable world 
agog after style ; but he did not enter the lists as a teacher, nor 
would he have allowed youth who had advised with him upon 
art to waste their time in attempting to learn what no one could 
teach. The copyists, or rather dabblers in his new style, were full- 
grown amateurs, polite idlers at Bath, who vainly fancied, forsooth, 
because this rare genius could, by a sort of graphic magic, dash o?f 
romantic scraps of landscape, rural hovels, wild heaths, and pictu- 
resque groups of rustics, that they had but to procure his brown or 
blue paper, and his brushes and pigments, and do the like. . . . The 
Gainsborough mania,' adds Pyne, 'was long the rage; and there are 
yet ' (he is writing in December 1823) ' some antique beaux and belles 
of haut ton, who recollect their many friends who, with themselves, 
were stricken with this sketching phrenzy, and smile at Bath and its 
vanities, as they talk of the days that are gone.' 2 

1 Somerset House Gazette, \. 162. * Ibid. 



CH. v TRAVELLING ARTISTS; AND ALEXANDER COZENS 59 

It was in the field so well prepared for him by Gainsborough that 
Alexander Cozens trod his path of successful tuition. Leslie says that 
he taught the figure as well as landscape. He was also a theoretical 
writer on art, and besides the tract above mentioned, published the 
following works : Treatise on Perspective, and Rules for Shading by 
Invention, 1765; The various Species of Composition in Nature; 
' with observations, &c.,' containing sixteen subjects in four plates ; 
The Shape, Skeleton, and Foliage of Thirty-two Species of Trees, 
'for the use of Painting and Drawing,' 1771 (another edition, 1786) ; 
and The Principles of Beauty, relative to the Human Head, folio, 
1778. This last is a curious essay, being an attempt to build up 
expressions in female profiles, by piecing together sets of features, 
selected according to prescribed receipts from a store of single exam- 
ples previously assorted and indexed. It mainly consists of a series 
of nineteen outline plates engraved in life-size by F. Bartolozzi ; two 
being devoted to the separate eyes, noses, &c., and seventeen to their 
combinations in faces representing distinct types of beauty, such as 
the Majestic, the Sensible, the Tender, the Artful, &c. &c. Transparent 
removable headdresses are added, designed to serve up each face in 
varied fashion. The titles and explanatory text are given in English 
and French. Nearly all the plates are dated April 1777. The book 
must have been talked of for more than one season, as Banks the 
sculptor exhibited, at the Royal Academy in 1783, a ' Head on 
Cozens's principles.' 

Alexander Cozens does not appear to have resided entirely at 
Bath. His address, given in the Royal Academy Catalogue for 1772, 
is ' Leicester Street, Leicester Fields ; ' and there he is said to have 
died, in April 1786. 



60 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 



CHAPTER VI 
JOHN COZENS AND JOHN SMITH 

John Cozens Teaches by example Early drawings His 'Hannibal' Influence on Turner 
Visit to Italy with Payne Knight Buys his father's lost sketches Second visit with 
Beckford Loss of reason Kindness of Sir G. Beaumont and Dr. Monro Date of 
death Character of his art ' Warwick' Smith His views of Italy New process of 
painting Engraved works. 

THE more important and lasting, though less direct, influence of this 
drawing-master's greater son, JOHN COZENS, upon landscape art, was 
of an altogether different nature from his. The younger Cozens 
appears to have been abroad when his parent was giving lessons in 
Bath, and is not known to have been himself engaged in tuition. He 
taught by example, not by precept. The works which he left behind 
him bespeak his mind as an artist, and simple and elementary as they 
are in a technical point of view, have never failed to impress the true 
connoisseur with a sense of their poetic feeling. 

Little is known of the facts of his life, except what is sufficiently 
apparent in his drawings, that he received his inspiration of natural 
beauty in the tender repose of Italian air. Leslie mentions a very 
small pen-drawing of three figures inscribed with the words, ' Done by 
J. Cozens 1761, when nine years old.' He must, if this statement be 
true, have been fifteen when he exhibited ' a drawing of a landscape ' 
at Spring Gardens in 1767. One or more landscapes, of which the 
particular subjects are not mentioned, are attributed to him in the 
catalogues there every year between 1767 and 1771. Then comes an 
interval ; after which, when he was twenty-five, a picture by him, said 
to have been in oil, appeared at the Royal Academy Exhibition of 
1776, of 'A landscape with Hannible in his March over the Alps, 
showing to his army the fertile plains of Italy.' It might now have 
a second title referring to the history of peaceful art, for in it the 
artist was himself unfolding to his professional brethren the charms 
of Italian landscape. The great Turner, to whom, above all other 



CH. vi JOHN COZENS AND JOHN SMITH 61 

painters, was transmitted the inspiration of Cozens, is said to have 
spoken of this work as one ' from which he learned more than from 
anything he had then ' seen.' 

The picture must have been painted during his first visit to Italy, 
which took place in the same year, 1776, in company with R. Payne 
Knight. A set of fifty-seven grey drawings, formerly in the Town ley 
collection, afterwards in that of the late Hon. Rowland Allanson 
Winn, 2 and now more or less dispersed, which were a result of this 
visit, evince the artist's delicate perception of atmospheric effect, his 
sense of beauty, and masterly grasp of a subject, with the simplest 
means of expression. 

A very few of these sketches are from the North of Italy. And 
further evidence exists that Cozens was in Florence in 1776. For 
there are at the British Museum a series of views, in Rome, and 
elsewhere in Italy, by the elder Cozens, accompanied by the fol- 
lowing (unsigned) memorandum : ' Alexander Cozens, in London, 
Author of these Drawings, lost them and many more in Germany, 
by their dropping from his Saddle when he was riding on his way 
from Rome to England, in the year 1746. John Cozens his son 
being at Florence in the year 1776, purchased them. When he 
arrived at London in the year 1779 he delivered the drawings to his 
Father.' 3 

Edwards tells us that Cozens visited 'Italy twice. His second 
journey thither may have been due to his father's position at Bath. 
It was made in company with, and under patronage of, the accom- 
plished and eccentric millionnaire William Beckford, author of Vatliek, 
and owner and rebuilder of Fonthill Abbey. It is not to be inferred 
that Beckford discovered this artist's genius, or even aided in bringing 

1 So says Leslie in his Life of Constable. The word ' then ' must refer to the time when 
Turner saw the work, and is therefore indefinite. When the picture was exhibited, Turner 
could not have seen much in the way of art. He was one year old. 

2 When the volume containing them came into Mr. Winn's possession, it was inscribed 
' Views in Swisserland, a present from Mr. R. P. Knight, and taken by the late Mr. Cozens 
under his inspection during a Tour in Swisserland in 1776.' Dr. Percy, however, makes 
the following note in his catalogue, respecting this volume : ' Bought at R. P. Knight's sale 
by Molteno, who sold them to Rowland Winn, Esq., the present possessor, 1870.' 

3 One of these drawings is signed ' A. C. Roma 1746.' They are mostly in grey, executed 
with pen and brush, rather niggled in the pen-work, with some attempt at light and shade 
effect, and, generally, the conventional dark foreground. Some drawings with the pen only 
are in the manner of line engravings. One view has some crude colour with bright blue- 
greens. Leslie sees in them ' much of elegance and feeling of the beautiful forms of nature. ' 
( Handbook for Young Painters. ) 



62 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. i 

it to maturity, though he may have contributed to the sentiment of 
his art. When Cozens painted his ' Hannibal,' the late alderman's 
son was a lively lad of seventeen ; and his patronage of art, though 
not inconsistent with the appreciation of poetic style in painting, which 
the imagination he afterwards displayed would lead one to expect, 
was at this time chiefly of a negative character. He was exercising 
his literary talent upon a ludicrous burlesque history of the Dutch 
painters, and in mystifying his mother's housekeeper, and the 
strangers who came to see the treasures of the Fonthill gallery, by 
furnishing her with wondrous accounts of the pictures there, painted 
by the distinguished old masters, Sucrewasser of Vienna, Watersouchy 
of Amsterdam, and Og of Basan. It was not until the spring of 
1782 that young Beckford, then of age, and master of his immense 
fortune, set off for his second tour on the Continent, taking with 
him a considerable retinue his old tutor, a doctor, a musician, and 
Cozens, as the professional artist, without whom the suite of a 
wealthy dilettante on his travels was now scarcely to be regarded as 
complete. 

Since writing his Vies de Peintres Flainands, the young Croesus 
had seen more of the world. He had spent a year and a half at 
Geneva, had travelled about in England, and, early in 1780, had set 
out with his tutor, Dr. Lettice, on what was called ' the grand tour. 1 
As he traversed the Low Countries, Germany, and Italy, his early 
attachment to nature had become more and more developed, 1 and 
the romantic scenes through which he passed had impressed them- 
selves upon him in a manner which his subsequent descriptions of 
them show to have been well in accord with the sentiment embodied 
in the works of Cozens. Here is a verbal picture of a scene in the 
Tyrol which might either have suggested, or been suggested by, one 
of that painter's drawings : ' Big drops hung on every spray, and 
glittered on the leaves, partially gilt by the rays of the declining sun, 
whose mellow hues softened the rugged summits, and diffused a 
repose, a divine calm, over this deep retirement, which inclined me 
to imagine it the extremity of the earth - the portal of some other 
region of existence some happy world beyond the dark groves o; 
pine, the caves and awful mountains, where the river takes its 
source ! ' * 

It was through this Tyrol country that the party in three carriages, 

1 Memoirs of Bcckford, 2 vols. 8vo, 1859 : vol. i. p. 168. 2 Ibid. 169, quoted. 



CH. vi JOHN COZENS AND JOHN SMITH 63 

with led horses and outriders, entered Italy. On the way Beckford 
' ran on foot into the woods, admiring the delicate foliage on all 
sides, while the artist Cozens drew the huts that were scattered 
about the landscape.' ' They drove rapidly to Venice, were ten days 
at Padua, and then went to Rome. Here again the sombre scenes in 
which he sought relief from pageantry that he little cared for, are just 
what would have taken captive the heart of Cozens. They reached 
Naples in July, and returned to England in the latter part of the year. 
In 1804, the year of the founding of our Society, ninety-four of the 
Roman drawings made for Beckford by Cozens were sold at Christie's 
for 5O4/., one of them alone fetching, it is said, fifty guineas. A view 
of Rome (i8i x 29 in.) by him has in recent times been twice 
sold at Christie's (1875, 1880) for 84/. 2 

Cozens's end was a very sad one. In 1794 he lost his reason. 
Leslie * considers that there is evidence of a failing mind in some of 
his works, wherein ' that pensive sadness which forms the charm of 
his evening scenes sinks into cheerless melancholy.' The following 
note is made by Dr. Percy in his manuscript catalogue, now at the 
British Museum, on Cozens's drawings : ' Did Cozens in his last 
years, owing to increasing melancholy, use colour less and less? This, 
so far as I know at present, seems to me probable. It is a point for 
special inquiry. J. P. June 19, 1881.' 

In the days of his mental affliction, poor Cozens was befriended by 
two generous patrons of art ; namely, Sir George Beaumont, and one 
whose name is more conspicuous in the history of our water-colour 
school, good Dr. Thomas Monro. What the latter did for the art 
itself will shortly be related. It was as a physician, skilled in like cases, 
that he was able to perform his kind service to this afflicted artist. 
Edwards relates that, receiving little or no gratuity, he treated him 
with the greatest care and tenderness till his death, which is said to 
have been in 1799.* 

Cozens's works belong, technically speaking, to the old class of 
'stained drawings.' Depending, however, for their effect, more on 

1 Memoirs of Beckford, \. 207. 

* Redford's Art Sales. The total amount is elsewhere stated at SID/. 

1 Handbook of Painters. 

1 This date is adopted by Bryan and Redgrave. Dayes and Constable make it three 
years earlier; and a doubt is thrown on both statements by the existence of a drawing lately 
in the collection of Dr. Percy, of Castel Gandolfo, pronounced by connoisseurs to be the 
work of Cozens, but executed on paper bearing the date 1801. 



64 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY UK. I 

masses and gradation of light and shade than on line and form, they 
are more aptly described by Edwards as ' tinted chiaroscuro.' The 
brush did much more to them than the pen. The Messrs. Redgrave, 
indeed attribute to him the first move in the right direction in the 
use of his pigments for the suggestion of true colour ; and further, an 
acquaintance with ' the use of gentle washings, and abrasion of the 
surface to give atmosphere and distance, or to indicate sun rays 
through intercepting clouds,' as well as a mastership of light and 
shade, and the use of accident' in painting. 1 

The highest tribute of admiration to the genius of Cozens has been 
paid by the landscape painter John Constable, and by that artist's 
biographer, Leslie. The former, in hyperbole, once went so far as to 
call him ' the greatest genius that ever touched landscape.' He speaks 
of his drawings as ' keeping him cheerful.' ' Cozens,' says he, ' is all 
poetry.' ' But,' adds Leslie, ' it is poetry that wins gently and 
imperceptibly. So modest and unobtrusive are the beauties of his 
drawings, that you might pass them without a notice ; for the painter 
himself never says, " Look at this or that ; " he trusts implicitly to your 
own taste and feeling, and his works are full of half-concealed beauties 
such as Nature herself shows but coyly, and these are often the 
most fleeting appearances of light. Not that his style is without 
emphasis, for then it would be insipid, which it never is, nor ever in 
the least commonplace. This exquisite artist had an eye equally 
adapted to the grandeur, the elegance, and the simplicity of 
Nature ; but he loved best, not her most gorgeous language, but 
her gentlest, her most silent eloquence.' 2 

Although Cozens's drawings are for the most part studies of real 
places and scenes in nature, their motive is something very different 
from that of the pure topographer. There exist careful drawings of 
architecture by him, 3 finished with precise elaboration, which entitle 
him to a place in that category. But the works on which his fame 
rests have another origin. They are based on the general principles 
of beauty, not on the attractions of local, or historic, or human 
interest. 

That the palette of John Cozens was very limited, was a matter 
of necessity in his day, common to all who practised in water-colours. 

1 Century of Painters, \. 379. 2 Leslie's Handbook for Young Painters. 

1 For example, the view of Rome, with St. Puter's and the Castle of St. Angi-lo, above 
mentioned. 



CH. VI JOHN COZENS AND JOHN SMITH 65 

Although a great improvement in the manufacture of colours had 
already begun, Redgrave tells us that in about 1783 he 'could only 
procure for his tinted works Indian red, lake, indigo, yellow ochre, 
burnt sienna with black simple materials indeed, and very inferior, 
doubtless, in their preparation to those at the command t>f the water- 
colour artists of our day.' ' That very grand and impressive effects 
can be produced with this restricted palette has been amply proved 
in the works of some of our old water-colour painters ; the more so 
probably by the necessity imposed upon them of relying more upon 
the resources of a fine chiaroscuro for their power over the mind, 
than a painter is required to do when he has at command all the 
sensuous attraction of gay and florid colour of every variety of hue. 
Cozens, indeed, did not seek to attract by the use of many or bright 
pigments. It is, almost alone, by simple quantities and subtle 
gradations of light and shade, that he succeeds in stirring the soul. 
It is rather surprising, therefore, that so few of his drawings have 
been engraved. There were in his day admirable engravers in line, 
as well as scrapers of mezzotint, to whom they might have been ex- 
pected to prove attractive. How well they lend themselves to the 
former mode of reproduction is shown by a small plate of the 
Acrocorinthos, engraved by John Landseer, in vol. iii. of Stuart's 
Athens, ch. vi., PI. IV. ; and to the latter by an example in Leslie's 
Handbook for Young Painters. Cozens did not himself draw much, 
if at all, for the press. It is probable that his works were little known 
in his lifetime, and that the fine quality of his art was not much 
appreciated beyond a narrow circle of connoisseurs. 

The inspiration which JOHN SMITH derived from Italian scenery 
was different in its nature from that of John Cozens. He had pre- 
pared his mind by studying the works of Claude and Poussin, and it 
was with a taste so cultivated that he made his acquaintance with 
the original scenes. He ' attempted to unite depth and richness of 
colour with the clearness and aerial effect of Cozens.' 2 

The two artists have here been named together chiefly because 
they afford examples of the direct kind of patronage bestowed upon 
graphic art during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Smith 
was taken to Italy by the same Earl of Warwick who has already been 
mentioned as a patron of Paul Sandby's. That nobleman had himself 

1 Catalogue of Water-Colour Paintings in South Kensington Museum, 1877, p. 17. 
1 MS. Notes by J. \V. Papworth. 



66 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

early in life cultivated a natural taste for drawing and ' acquired a 
rapid and masterly style of sketching landscape. His fancy in 
designing rocks and waterfalls, and that species of romantic scenery 
which abounds in the mountainous parts of Switzerland and Italy,' 
says Pyne, 'was so prolific, that many subjects could have been 
selected from his numerous portfolios which might, in the hands of 
an able artist, have been wrought into magnificent pictures.' ' From 
this companionship our artist acquired the nicknames by which he is 
familiarly known, of ' Italian ' or ' Warwick ' Smith. 

He was three years older than Cozens, but long survived him, and 
lived not only to see the culminating period of the water-colour 
school, but to be far surpassed by later contemporaries. 

The technical change in practice which he introduced did not 
take place until the career of Cozens had virtually ended. In 
May 1785, when Middiman published his last plate after Smith, 
both the above draftsmen were using the old tinted grey manner of 
drawing from which Cozens never emerged. In the following year, 
Smith began his Italian drawings, and in the later of these, among dates 
ranging from 1786 to 1795, are found a free use of local colour and 
a partial abandonment of the preliminary grey ground. 

It is not quite clear when he commenced the simple and har- 
monious method of painting which John Landseer thus describes 
in his Review of Publications of Fine Art, published in 1808: 
' Mr. John Smith,' he says, ' first discovered and taught the junior 
artists the rationale of tempering their positive colours with the 
neutral grey formed by the mixture of red, blue and yellow : that this 
grey, constituted of all the primary colours, would harmonize with 
any, and form a common bond of concord with all, and that, tempered 
with a little more or less of warm or cool colours, as time, or climate, 
or season might require, it became the air tint, or negative colour 
of the atmosphere which intervened between the eye and the several 
objects of the landscape.' 

In part in the British and in part at the South Kensington Museum, 
are a series of drawings, chiefly of Italian subjects, by ' Warwick ' Smith, 
presented to the nation by Sir Walter C. Trevelyan, Bart, which 
exemplify the tender harmony and agreeable warmth of Smith's colour- 
ing, and contrast with the coldness of the earlier school. 

John Smith was born at Irthington, Cumberland, on the 26th of 
1 Somerset Home Gazette, i. 30. 



CH. VI JOHN COZENS AND JOHN SMITH 67 

July, 1749, and educated at St. Bees. Some of his early drawings, 
engraved in Middiman's series, are of his own north country. He 
published two quarto volumes in 1792-96 entitled Select Views in 
Italy, containing seventy-two plates engraved by Byrne, with topo- 
graphical and historical descriptions in English and French. A 
Tour through Parts of Wales, ' Sonnets, Odes, and other Poems by 
W. Sotheby, with engravings from drawings taken on the spot by 
J. Smith," 4to, 1794, contains thirteen plates (5 x 7^ in.) in aquatint 
by S. Alken, printed on a rather dark-toned paper. Some of these 
have a fine feeling almost suggestive of Cozens. Views of the Lakes 
by him were aquatinted by Samuel Alken, and published by W. Clarke 
in New Bond Street in 1795- John Smith is named as one of the 
draftsmen for Byrne's Britannia Depicta, the first part of which was 
published in 1806, but he only contributed five views, viz. : Two of 
' Windsor,' the ' Vale of Aylesbury,' and ' Buckingham ' (the plates 
dated i Jan. 1803, and engraved by Wm. Byrne) ; and one of ' Beeston 
Castle' (24 Jan. 1810, by J. Byrne). In 'A Tour to Hafod in 
Cardiganshire, the seat of Thomas Johnes, Esq., M.P., F.R.S., &c. 
folio, 1810, there are some very large coloured aquatint plates by 
Stadler after J. Smith's drawings ' taken many years ago.' 



r 2 



68 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. i 



CHAPTER VII 

TEACHERS, DRAFTSMEN AND DILETTANTI 

Drawing masters Sandby Gresse Laporte Payne His 'style ' Water-colours a 
fashionable amusement Society of Arts premiums Artists' materials improve More 
topographical series S. Ireland Walker's 'Copper Plate Magazine' Dayes Other 
draftsmen employed Patrons and collectors Dr. Mead Duke of Richmond Dr. 
Monro His drawing class. 

WHILE landscape draftsmen were thus being enabled by wealthy 
persons to extend their experience and cultivate their art in foreign 
climes, those who stayed at home were deriving a different kind of 
encouragement from the same class of benefactors. The admiration 
which had been attracted by the water-colour artists was testified 
by the sincerest kind of flattery, that of imitation. An emulative 
influence prevailed in London circles like that with which Gains- 
borough's rural sketches had erst inspired the amateurs of Bath ; 
and, as Alexander Cozens had prospered there, so a race of teachers 
sprang up who pursued their calling in the metropolis. 

Most prosperous and influential among the drawing-masters of 
the day was our old acquaintance Paul Sandby, during probably a 
great part of his long life. The youthful drawings made by our 
great-grandmothers, that still repose, cold and grey, in well-moulded 
black frames, on bedroom walls in old-fashioned red-brick houses 
in the country, bear unmistakable marks of being modelled after the 
example of Sandby's once popular style. 

Another very fashionable teacher of the day was JOHN ALEXANDER 
GRESSE, an artist of Genevese parentage. His name survives in 
that of a neat little back street lying between Rathbone Place and 
Tottenham Court Road, where his father had property, which he 
inherited. It was in his time, and long after, a neighbourhood much 
occupied by artists. 'Jack Grease,' as he was vulgarly called, in 
punning recognition of his foreign name and corpulent figure, enjoyed 
Court patronage, was teacher to the princesses in 1777, and is said to 
have amused the King at the same time with gossiping talk. His 



CH. VII TEACHERS, DRAFTSMEN AND DILETTANTI 69 

manner of drawing, quite the ideal of the old method of tinting on a 
grey basis, is admirably shown in an example at the South Kensington 
Museum, an unfinished view of ' Llangollen Bridge,' in which the artist 
has been interrupted in his work at a point which enables us to see at 
a glance his course of proceeding. The result of an education and 
previous practice as an engraver is apparent in the extreme neatness 
of the preliminary outline. He had had instruction from the en- 
gravers Scotin and Major and from the landscape painter Zuccarelli, 
had worked for Cipriani, and was an exhibitor of drawings and minia- 
tures at the Incorporated Society's. On his death, at the age of fifty-two, 
in 1794, a collection which he had formed was dispersed in a six days' 
sale. 1 Gresse's careful exactness of manner was transmitted to, and 
can be recognized in the work of his pupil Robert Hills, one of the 
actual founders of the Water-Colour Society. 

JOHN LAPORTE was a much younger man than Gresse, but con- 
temporary with him as a teacher of water-colours. Besides being 
employed in private practice, he became one of the masters at 
Addiscombe military college. ' He painted landscapes," -says Red- 
grave, 2 ' introducing cattle with effects of sunset and morning, rain 
and showers, and some views of Lake scenery.' He lived from 1761 
to 1839. Among his pupils were Dr. Thomas Monro, the great 
benefactor to water-colour art, already mentioned in connection with 
poor Cozens. 

Among the artists employed by Middiman we come upon another, 
whose work for the engraver was, or afterwards became, quite sub- 
ordinate to his drawings made for their own sake, and whose talent 
was also called into great requisition by the amateur artists. WILLIAM 
PAYNE, whose name is attached to four subjects in Devon and 
Cornwall, dated March 1788 and January 1789 in the series of 
plates above referred to, was in fact one of the leading draftsmen of 
his day, and one of the first who ' abandoned mere topography for a 
more poetical treatment of landscape scenery.' 3 It is not known 
how old he was when in 1790 he left his native Devonshire, a county 
prolific of painters, where he had lived in the neighbourhood of the 
above subjects, namely at Plymouth Dock, now called Devonport, 4 

1 Redgrave's Dictionary. 2 Dictionary of the English School. 

* Century of Painters, i. 383. 

4 Ruskin states that, when Samuel Prout was a boy at Plymouth, ' the art of drawing 
was little understood ' there, 'and practised only by Payne, then an engineer in the citadel." 
(Art Journal, i March, 1849.) 



70 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

and came to try his fortune in London, taking up his residence in 
Thornhaugh Street, Bedford _Square. His drawings seem already to 
have attracted attention. He had begun to exhibit with the Incor- 
porated Society as long before as 1776, and since 1786 had sent 
Devonshire views to Somerset House. The President of the 
Academy praised his drawings, particularly some views of slate 
quarries at Sir Joshua's own native place, Plympton. 

Pyne relates that his small works, ' brilliant in effect and executed 
with spirit,' were ' regarded as striking novelties in style,' and ' no 
sooner seen than admired.' Yet, after the date of his arrival in 
London, he ceased to be an exhibitor at the Royal Academy. 
His professional career was henceforth to be directed by a different 
kind of patronage to that of the buyers of his water-colour draw- 
ings. His 'style' had taken. The young ladies of society desired 
to add so fascinating a form of drawing to the list of their ac- 
complishments, and ' almost every family of fashion ' was anxious 
that its sons and daughters should have the benefit of his tuition. 
Payne appears to have been the very man to satisfy this demand. 
He had effected a real advance in water-colour art, better adapting 
it to the imitation of the natural scenery, and the effects of sun- 
shine and of cloud, which it was now called upon to represent ; 
and, besides this, he had reduced his practice to a system which 
could easily be imparted to others. The simple old method of 
staining and tinting must have been thoroughly well known by this 
time, and in matters of technique there was nothing new to be 
got out of Sandby and Gresse. But Payne was the possessor of 
what was called a ' style,' ' the power of reproducing which in one's 
own drawings could be secured at the price of a certain number of 
lessons. He thus proved himself equal to the occasion, and hence 
' for a long period, in the noble mansions of St. James's Square, 
and Grosvenor Square, and York Place, and Portland Place, might 
be seen elegant groups of youthful amateurs manufacturing land- 
scapes a la Payne.' 2 

1 The term 'style,' used ' in the phraseology of fashion' (i.e. in its lower sense of a 
special process or manner which can be taught and imitated, as distinguished from its higher 
signification, implying a certain dignified refinement that is above the reach of the mechanical 
copyist), ' originated,' according to Pyne, ' with the drawings of Mr. Payne. ' See Somerset 
House Gazette, \. 133. 

~ Somerset House Gazette, i. 162. Four ' Books, Landscapes from Drawings by Payne, 
engraved by Bluck,' are advertised at the end of A Treatise on Ackerrnann's Water- Colours, 
&c. (1801). 



CH. VII TEACHERS, DRAFTSMEN AND DILETTANTI 71 

The following account of his course of proceeding is given by the 
Messrs. Redgrave : ' 

' He abandoned the use of outline with the pen. His general 
process was very simple. Having invented a grey tint (still known 
by the colourmen as Payne's grey), he used it for all the varied 
gradations of his middle distance, treating the extreme distance, as 
also the clouds and sky, with blue. For the shadow in his fore- 
ground he used Indian ink or lamp-black, breaking these colours into 
the distance by the admixture of grey. In this he but slightly 
differed from the artists of his time ; but his methods of handling 
were more peculiarly his own. These consisted of splitting the brush 
to give the forms of foliage, dragging the tints to give texture to his 
foregrounds, and taking out the forms of lights by wetting the sur- 
face and rubbing with bread and rag. . . . Having thus prepared 
a vigorous light and shadow, Payne tinted his distance, middle dis- 
tance, and foreground with colour, retouching and deepening the 
shadows in front to give power to his work, and even loading his 
colour and using gum plentifully. He sought to enrich scenes wherein 
he had attempted effects of sunset or sunrise, by passing a full wash 
of gamboge and lake over the completed drawing.' 

Pyne says this ' process certainly was captivating, as exhibited in 
his happiest works, though much of their merit was the result of 
dexterity and trick, as exemplified by the granulated texture obtained 
by dragging, the fallacy of which process was sufficiently exposed in 
every attempt at composition on a larger scale in the same style.' 2 
That writer condemns Payne's teaching as the commencement of a 
period when ' established principles ' were superseded by ' the more 
fascinating properties of dashing colouring and effect. The method of 
instruction,' he says, ' in the art of drawing landscape compositions 
had never been reduced so completely to the degenerate notions of 
this epoch of bad taste as by this ingenious artist.' 2 The remark 
made above on Alexander Cozens's haphazard method of making 
landscapes is equally true of Payne's regulated course of technical 
procedure. Its value depends on its artistic application. He may 
have enabled many of his pupils to record for themselves the beautiful 
appearances of nature, and some amateurs may have had observance 
and taste enough to profit by the possession. But there were doubtless 

1 Century of Painters, \. 382-3. * Somerset House Gazette. \. 162. 



72 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

more who took the means for the end, and, instead of going to nature, 
were content to copy the works of their teacher. 

Whatever may be thought of the nature of their various nostrums, 
this congregation of doctors implied the existence of something like 
an epidemic of water-colour painting that had already become pre- 
valent among amateurs. Some of the symptoms of the disease when 
at its highest are humorously described in the following skit, which 
appeared in or about the year 1787 : '"What a fine, clear morning! 
I will do my sky. Betty ! tell your mistress, if anyone calls, I can't 
be seen I'm skying. Betty ! Betty ! bring me up a pan of water, 
and wash that sponge : it really is' so hot, I cannot lay my colour 
smooth. Where's the flat brush ? Oh dear ! that Prussian blue is 
all curdled." " Please, pa, ma says, will you take any refreshment ? " 
" Get away ! get away ! how ever can your raz think about refresh- 
ment, when she knows I'm doing my sky ? Th;_re, you've knocked 
down my swan's quill, and how am I to soften tl is colour ? It will 
all be dry before you wash out the dirt. Give me that brush. Oh, it 
is full of indigo ! There is the horizon spoilt ! Quick ! quick ! some 
water ! Oh, that's gall ! And the sky is flying away ! Why did your 
mother send you here ? She might have known that I was skying." ' 
The attention which was being paid in high circles to the practice 
of drawing by amateurs, as well as the influence attributed thereto 
upon art itself, may be inferred from a list of ' Premiums for Pro- 
moting the Polite Arts,' offered by the Society of Arts in 1790. 
Among ' Honorary Premiums for Drawings ' there are a gold and a 
silver medal 'for the best drawing by sons or grandtons,' and the 
like for ' daughters or granddaughters, of peers or peeresses of Great 
Britain or Ireland,' and ' for the best drawing of any kind by young 
gentlemen under the age of twenty-one;' and again, 'the same 
premiums will be given for drawings by young ladies.' The amateur 
character of the competition is secured by the concluding proviso : 
' N.B. Persons professing any branch of the polite arts, or the sons 
or daughters of such persons, will not be admitted candidates in these 
classes.' 2 

While emulation was thus encouraged, and instruction, both 
sound and specious, was obtainable by the unprofessional as well as 

1 Quoted in Thornbury's Life of Turner, p. 85, 2nd edit. 

* See an advertisement dated 14 May, 1790, in The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. Ix. 
part I, p. 458. 



CH. vii TEACHERS, DRAFTSMEN AND DILETTANTI 73 

the professional student, the popular use of water-colours, and also 
their application to a more complete form of painting, was facilitated 
by a better manufacture of artists' materials. ' About 1780,' says 
Mr. Redgrave, 1 'a great improvement began. Up to this time every 
artist had to prepare his own dry colours, which for want of sufficient 
knowledge of their chemical properties, and the leisure to grind and 
prepare them, gave him much trouble, and produced ' most un- 
satisfactory ' results. They were, in fact, very bad, the materials 
ill selected, their fixed or fugitive qualities unknown, and when pre- 
pared they were scarcely fit for use. The dry colours, after grinding 
with water in gum, were moulded into a lump by the fingers. At 
the above date Messrs. Reeves turned their attention to the pre- 
paration of water-colours for our artists, and first moulded them into 
the form of cakes (as they are now called), on which their name 
was impressed. Their success was early acknowledged, and in 1781 
the Society of Arts awarded their great silver palette to Messrs. 
Thomas and William Reeves for their improved water-colours.' 

*, 

While the art was developing under these various impulses, the 
topographic draftsmen continued to exercise their calling. Recurring 
to Middiman's volume and continuing to turn over its leaves, we find 
upon a plate of ' Cliefden Spring, Bucks,' dated 25 May, 1785, the 
name Samuel Ireland. This artist afterwards took up on his own 
account the trade of topographic-print making, and published, in 1792- 
93, volumes of Picturesque Views, on the Thames, the Medway, and 
the Severn, which he aquatinted himself from his own sketches. 
Early in the year 1792 a new venture was made, in the publication of 
a series of small engravings of the same class as ' Sandby's Views,' 
and ' Watts's Seats.' It took the old name of The Copper Plate 
Magazine, with a second title of Monthly Cabinet of Picturesque 
Prints; which it further described as ' Sublime and Interesting Views 
in Great Britain and Ireland, beautifully engraved by the most emi- 
nent artists, from the Paintings and Drawings of the First Masters.' 
The issue was commenced in shilling 2 monthly numbers containing 
two prints apiece. These being collected in a volume at the end of 

1 Descriptive Catalogue, pp. 16, 17. 

2 At the end of vol. iv. , viz. in May 1800, it was announced that, owing to the price of 
paper having nearly doubled and the expense of every other department having very con- 
siderably advanced, there was a monthly loss, and that the future price would be \s. 6d. per 
number. 



74 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

every two years, the complete work contains 250 plates, bearing dates 
from I Feb. 1792,10 i June, 1802. The first volume was published 
by Harrison and Co. of Paternoster Row ; but in the second the name 
of J. Walker, engraver, of 16 Rosomon's Street, Clerkenwell, was 
added, and afterwards the plates were printed for Walker alone. 
Hence, and to distinguish it from Kearsley's older work of the same 
name, it is usually known as ' Walker's Copper Plate Magazine.' 
These volumes are in oblong quarto, the plates being accompanied by 
descriptions printed on separate leaves. A portion of the subjects 
were also printed, each on the same page with its letterpress, and this 
folio edition was called The Itinerant. Many of the views are of 
towns ; but the old element of gentlemen's seats is largely included, as 
well as ruined abbeys, &c., and existing public buildings. Most of the 
plates, latterly nearly all, were engraved by Jo/in Walker, at first in con- 
junction with his father William Walker, who died on the i8th of 
February, 1793, before the first volume was complete. This elder 
Walker was, says Redgrave, 1 ' employed for nearly thirty years upon 
the illustration of the publications of the day, and also engraved some 
good plates for Alderman Boydell. Early in life he discovered the 
valuable art of rebiting etchings, and Woollett, who occasionally used 
the process, when successful was wont to exclaim : " Thank you, 
William Walker." ' 

Although the plates in this new copper-plate magazine have no 
special claim to admiration as specimens of engraving, 2 the series is 
of considerable historic interest, not only as carrying on the succession 
of works designed to illustrate British topography, but because it 
contains the earliest engraved designs of the two artists who, more 
than any others, are regarded as the regenerators, if not the actual 
founders, of our modern school of water-colour painting. Their names 
are Thomas Girtin and (as he then signed himself) William Turner. 
' T. Girtin ' is the designer of a view of Windsor, published in the 
fourth number, as Plate VII., with the date I May, 1792. He was then 
about seventeen years old, and probably the youngest of the artists 
employed. He had not received his full inspiration, and risen to his 
true standard. The name of Turner, who was of the same age 
(within a year) as Girtin, does not appear until two years later, namely 

1 Dictionary of the English School. 

* Among the generally mediocre plates by Walker are a few of a better class, by 
Medland, Filler, Heath, and Middiman. 



Cir. vn TEACHERS, DRAFTSMEN AND DILETTANTI 75 

with the date i May, 1794, attached to Plate LV. in the second 
volume, a view of Rochester. 

Some of the other men who drew for Walker's magazine in its 
opening year demand prior notice by reason of their seniority. One 
of them, who drew the first plate, a view of Oxford, was 'EDWARD 
DAYES, a sound topographic draftsman, who tinted over Indian ink, 
in the established manner of the day, with accuracy and grace, and 
excelled in architectural subjects, enlivening them with careful groups 
of well-drawn figures. He had learned, too, from William Pether to 
scrape mezzotints, and practised that art as well as painted in minia- 
ture. He took pupils in drawing, and young Girtin had for a time 
been bound to him as an apprentice. The date of his birth is not 
known ; but he began to exhibit at the Academy in 1786. A careful 
view of Greenwich Hospital, by him, with boats and figures, in the 
possession of Mr. Henry Pilleau, M. R.W.I., is dated 1788. There is a 
tinted drawing by him at South Kensington, representing Buckingham 
House, St. James's Park, almost a figure subject, dated 1790; and 
another of Ely Cathedral, drawn in the year 1792 (that of Walker's 
first plate), in which we may perceive an advance towards the full use 
of colour. Further mention will have to be made of Dayes as a 
writer on art, as well as in other ways less to his credit. 

F. Wlieatley, R.A., before mentioned, was another of the contri- 
butors of views to this first year's issue of the Walker prints. Richard 
Corbould, father of a family of good draftsmen, and himself a man of 
varied accomplishments, who painted (in oil and water-colour) history, 
portraits, landscapes and miniature enamels, was another. A view of 
Cliefden by him, engraved by Heath on Plate XX., is fine and broad 
in effect. He was at this time thirty-five years old, and had begun to 
exhibit in 1776 at the Free Society. He lived till 1831, dying in that 
year at the age of seventy-four. Then, a year younger than Corbould, 
there is Charles Cation, Junior. His father was a Royal Academician, 
and he a scene-painter, who also travelled and sketched for the 
topographic publishers. He was better known as a painter of animals. 
Edward Francis Burney, well known by his small book illustrations as 
an elegant figure and subject designer, also gives us a couple of views, 
one of his native town of Worcester. Old Paul Sandby also 
reappears, in a capacity in which landscape draftsmen had now begun 
to be habitually employed, that of putting into shape the works of 
amateurs. For example, Plate XXIII., ' Londonderry,' I Jan. 1793,13 



76 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

drawn by Sandby ' from an original sketch by J. Nixon, Esq.' Among 
the so-called ' First Masters ' who took part in this ' monthly cabinet,' 
there were also persons outside the bounds of the profession, whose 
drafts were not so settled by a regular practitioner. Their engage- 
ment may be taken as further evidence of the extending practice of 
dilettante art. 

More important among the new names is that of Francis Nichol- 
son, who contributed two views, dated August and December 1792. 
Nicholson was one of the earliest of our draftsmen to convince him- 
self of the power of water-colour to compete with oil, and also one of 
the first to put his theory into practice. He was at this time thirty- 
nine years of age. His name had first appeared in the exhibition 
catalogues in 1789, and a dozen years afterwards he became one of 
the foundation members of the Water-Colour Society. By that time 
he had matured his practice, and there will in due course be much 
more to say both of his works and of himself. 

It will have been seen that water-colour draftsmen had hitherto 
been much less under the influence of precedent than had their 
brethren who painted in oils. In the practice of their craft there was 
not so much to learn from pictures by the old masters. Thus they 
had but slightly participated in the advantages, which had been de- 
rived by the more established branches of their profession, from the 
liberality of possessors of fine works of art, in rendering them avail- 
able for study. Many instances of such liberality are recorded in the 
last century. The earliest conspicuous example is that of Dr. Richard 
Mead, who died in 1754, aged eighty-four, ' a celebrated physician 
and great patron of artists and other men of genius. He for several 
years resided in the city, and latterly in New Orrnond Street. He 
was one of the first collectors who threw open his gallery of pictures 
to the students and all amateurs of art. His house, indeed, might be 
said to have been the first academy of painting.' ' 

Then, in the month of March 1758, the Duke of Richmond 
opened for young students his statue gallery at Whitehall, ' furnished 
with casts of the most celebrated ancient and modern figures at Rome 
and Florence,' 2 with the result, it is said, of inducing a purer taste in 
figure-drawing. There are few lives of eminent English painters of 
that transitional time, in which an early inspiration is not traced to the 
sight of some old master's work in the private galleries of the wealthy. 

1 Somerset House Gazette, \, 35 . 2 Pye's Patronage of British Art, p. 83. 



CH. vil TEACHERS, DRAFTSMEN AND DILETTANTI 77 

The age was now approaching when the landscape draftsmen also 
would have some early masters to look up to for the formation of 
their taste, and as models of style ; and opportunities for making such 
profitable retrospect were afforded at the epoch at which our chronicle 
has now arrived. There chanced to be an amateur, whose fine and 
cultivated taste and practical knowledge, combined with a warm- 
hearted spirit of benevolence, and an earnest desire to foster a rising 
school, of which he discerned the promise of excellence, enabled him 
about this time to do a most essential service to some young aspirants 
in this branch of art. This was Dr. THOMAS MONRO, already men- 
tioned as the kind friend in need to John Cozens during the affliction 
under which that artist ended his days. As a leader of connoisseur- 
ship, he was looked upon in his day much in the same light as 
Sir George Beaumont and Mr. Payne Knight. But in the exercise of 
his patronage he was specially distinguished by the services he 
rendered to water-colour painting, in these its early days. The 
Earl of Essex, Mr. Lascelles (' Prince Lascelles ' as he was called, from 
his likeness to the Prince of Wales), Dr. Monro, and Dr. Burney, 
with two or three more, seem to have been the chief encouragers of 
this branch of art ; but none to have taken more effectual means to 
promote the education of young artists than Dr. Thomas Monro. 

He was the youngest son of Dr. John Monro. His father, who had 
recently died, in 1791, at the age of seventy-six, had also been en- 
dowed with an elegant taste, and his collection of books and of prints 
was very considerable. Deeply versed in the early history of en- 
graving, he gave great help to Strutt in his work on that subject. 
There were at least five generations of Dr. Monros, 1 beginning with 
John's father, Dr. James Monro (born 1680, died 1752). They were 
chiefly known in their profession by skill in the treatment of insanity. 
The member of the family with whom we are particularly concerned 
was one of the physicians who attended King George the Third, as 
well as poor John Cozens. 

It was in or about the year 1793 that Dr. Thomas Monro, then 

1 There is some excuse for confusion among so many doctors of one name. And when 
we read of three more Dr. Monros, a father and two sons, of a Scotch family, who distin- 
guished themselves as physicians and writers of scientific works, the pedigree becomes even 
less determinable. Redgrave {Descriptive Catalogue S.K.M. p. 23) is one generation behind 
in attributing Dr. Thomas Monro's patronage of water-colour art to Dr. John Monro. 
Thornbury (Life of Turner) and others spell the name 'Munro.' Possibly, also, the fact 
that Mr. Munro of Novar was a great collector of Turner's works, may have helped to 
mislead some writers. 



78 WATER-COLOUR ART IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BK. I 

thirty-four years of age, removed from Bedford Square, where he had 
previously resided, to No. 4 or 6 Adelphi Terrace, which row of 
houses had been built about twenty years before by the brothers 
Adam, and then overhung the Thames as it now overhangs the river 
embankment. His house was filled with pictures and drawings, many 
by Gainsborough, hanging on the walls, and he allowed them to be 
freely copied by young artists. These he took great delight, too, in 
assisting with his advice. He was himself an able amateur drafts- 
man, a pupil (as above stated) of Laporte's, and an ardent sketcher, 
as well as worshipper of works of art. 

The story has often been told of Sir George Beaumont's practice 
of taking Claude's little picture of ' Narcissus ' with him to look at 
while he travelled. Dr. Monro was an enthusiast of like habits. So 
fond was he of works of art that he was never satisfied without some 
of them in sight. Inside the roof of his carriage he had a netting 
placed, 1 in which he always slipped a folio of drawings when he went 
to his country house at Fetcham 2 in Surrey. At home he contrived 
to have his drawings so arranged that they could readily be removed 
in case of fire. 

He seems to have had a special fondness for Gainsborough. ' Of 
all the imitators of that painter's ' style of sketching,' says Pyne, ' per- 
haps excepting the late Mr. Hoppner, 3 he was the nearest to his 
prototype.' The same writer declares that he had 'seen many of 
these pasticci ' which it would ' puzzle the cognoscenti to detect from 
the originals.' 4 It was this Dr. Monro who is mentioned above as 
having purchased from Gainsborough's daughter her father's interest- 
ing ' camera' 

Dr. Monro's patronage of young artists was not confined to giving 
them access to his pictures and portfolios, and letting them make 
copies, and assisting them with his own judicious advice. He had a 
pleasant way of bringing them together, on a system which combined 
the benefit of this kind of study with mutual instruction, and with a 
small pecuniary profit to them at the same time. In winter evenings, 

1 J. J. J. ex relationt C. Varley. 

1 A view of Dr. Monro's house at Fetcham, by Thomas Girtin, was bought for the South 
Kensington Museum, at Dr. Percy's sale, 17 April, 1890. 

* A large number of Hoppner's slight landscape sketches in black chalk on grey paper 
are at the British Museum. 

1 Somerset House Gazette, ii. 8. A chalk drawing answering to this description was in 
the collection of the late Dr. Percy. 



CH. vii TEACHERS, DRAFTSMEN AND DILETTANTI 79 

he encouraged young men to make a studio of his house. There 
they put their sketches into pictorial shape under the doctor's eye, 
and he gave them their supper and half a crown apiece for their 
work. Desks were provided, with a candle which served for two 
sketchers, one sitting opposite to the other. Not a few of our best 
water-colour painters thus derived benefit from their early practice at 
Dr. Monro's ; but the most distinguished of all were the two future 
artists, whose names must ever be linked together as the real 
founders of our water-colour school Girtin and Turner. 






BOOK II 

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN 



CHAPTER I 
TURNER AND GIRTIN AS STUDENTS AND REFORMERS. 

Girtin and Turner with Dr. Monro Early drawings Mutual relations Different disposi- 
tions Turner's admiration of Girtin Girtin's birth, parentage, and early life Appren- 
ticed to Dayes Imprisonment and release Colouring prints London river scenes 
Work for architects Mr. Henderson Masters studied by Turner and Girtin Girtin's 
exhibits at the R.A. Sketches in Wales Teaches amateurs Taken to North by Mr. 
Moore Influence of mountain scenery Draws again for ' Walker's Magazine ' Changes 
of address Charged with mannerism Processes and materials Taking out lights F. 
Nicholson and the Earl of Warwick Influence of Girtin's 'style' His perseverance 
Habits when sketching Patrons. 

TURNER and Girtin were of one age, born in 1775, and acquainted 
before they studied together at Dr. Monro's and perhaps shared the 
same candle of a winter's evening. It is not exactly known at what 
dates they began to work there, or how long they so worked in com- 
pany. A memorandum by the late Mr. John Pye, the engraver, tells 
us that the first mention of Turner in Dr. Monro's journal is in 
1793, and that Girtin was not employed by him as long as Turner 
was. He says that ' Dr. Monro engaged them at two or three shillings 
apiece and a good supper, to put in effects of black and white and of 
colour into black lead outlines.' When the Doctor removed to Adelphi 
Terrace, 1 they were on the verge of manhood, and the proficiency of 
each had been already recognized. Girtin, as we have seen, had had 
a design engraved by the Walkers in the new ' Copper Plate Magazine ' 
in 1792 ; and Turner, who had been an Academy student since 1789, 

1 Dr. Monro had also a country house at Bushey, near Watford, besides that at Fetcham. 
Turner told David Roberts, R.A., that he and Girtin had often walked to Bushey and back 
to make drawings for their kind patron, at the price above stated. (See Watts's 'Biogra- 
phical Sketch of Turner,' prefixed to the Liber Fluviorum, p. xi. ) 



82 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. II 

had in 1790, when fifteen years of age, shown his first work at 
Somerset House, a tinted drawing of Lambeth Palace, 1 to be followed 
by others for many successive years. 

Dr. Monro had himself been buying Turner's youthful drawings 
at two guineas apiece, 2 from his father, a thrifty little hairdresser in 
Maiden Lane, Covent Garden ; who, having many customers, had 
managed to establish a good connection among patrons, to the 
advantage of his clever son. Young Turner had now set up a studio 
of his own, in Hand Court, close to his father's shop. 

The acquaintance between Girtin and Turner is said to have 
commenced during a joint employment, as lads, to colour prints for 
John Raphael Smith, painter and mezzotint engraver, who also carried 
on an extensive trade, as a publisher and print-dealer, in King Street, 
Covent Garden. It is not improbable that the Doctor's acquaintance 
with them was made while they were thus engaged. There is not 
much known as to what kind of original work Girtin produced under 
Dr. Monro's hospitable roof; but Turner's grey drawings, some of 
them based perhaps on his host's own sketches, are met with from 
time to time. When Dr. Monro's collection was sold, in 1833, Dr. 
Burney and Turner were together in the sale room. ' I understand," 
said Turner, pointing to some of the lots to which his own name 
was attached, ' that you have the bad taste to admire these things 
more than I do now. 1 ' It will be sufficient for me to say,' answered 
the polite connoisseur, 'that I admire everything you do, Mr. Turner.' 
' Well,' returned the other, a little flattered, ' perhaps they are not so 
bad ; for half a crown and one's oysters.' 3 It is possible that Girtin 
also may have had a hand in some of these drawings, there being 
good authority for saying that he made a great number of outlines, 
some of which the Doctor got Turner to tint in grey, and just work 
afterwards with colour ; and that Girtin complained of this as not 
giving him the same chance of learning to paint. 4 

It was by the attraction of like proclivities in art alone that the 
two lads were brought together. As they grew up, it appeared that 

1 The drawing was lent by Mrs. Courtauld to the Turner collection at the Royal 
Academy in 1887. A view of the gateway, belonging to Mr. P. C. Hardwick, apparently 
of about the same date, was among the ' Drawings of Architectural Subjects ' exhibited at 
the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1884. 

> Pye's MS. Notes. 

This was told to Mr. Jenkins in April 1865 by James Holland, who had it from Dr. 
Burney himself. 

* This was told to Mr. Jenkins by Cornelius Varley on I January, 1858. 



CH. I TURNER AND GIRTIN AS STUDENTS AND REFORMERS 83 

their characters and tastes were in other respects widely different. 
Turner, it is well known, was reticent of his knowledge, and close as 
to his methods of work. Girtin, on the other hand, was of an open, 
careless, and sociable disposition, always ready to impart what he 
knew, and assist even his rivals in art. As to their ' human relation- 
ship,' we have, as Mr. Monkhouse observes, in his ' Life of Turner,' ' 
very little information. ' Turner,' he writes, ' always spoke of Girtin 
as" Poor Tom," and proposed to, and possibly did, put up a tablet to 
his memory ; but there are no letters or anecdotes to show that what 
we all mean by " friendship " ever existed between them.' 2 What 
Girtin thought of Turner we do not know ; but the latter declared 
that ' Tom was a brilliant fellow,' 3 and always expressed a high 
admiration of his abilities. Girtin's son, however, told Mr. Jenkins 
that he had twice written to Turner upon some matter of interest to 
him about his father, but that Turner never had the courtesy to 
answer his letters. Although Turner's name is, as it deserves to be, 
incomparably the greater in the history of painting, that of his short- 
lived confrere in art demands for several reasons the first, and in 
some respects a higher, place in the present record. 

THOMAS GIRTIN was the elder son of a rope-maker in Southwark, 4 
who is said to have done a large business in cordage for shipping. 
Dying young (Thornbury says he was killed when hunting), he left 
his two boys, Tom and Jack, to the care of his widow, who took 
rooms for the three ' over a shop ' at No. i St. Martin's-le-Grand, in or 
about the year 1783. Such at least is the date if, as it is alleged, 
Tom Girtin was eight years old at his father's death. For he seems 
to have been born on the i8th of February, 1775. Some writers, 
including Pilkington, Redgrave, and Miller, misled apparently by an 
obituary notice in the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' give the date 1773, 
which may there be a misprint. But the date 1775 accords with the age 
given, both on his tombstone and by Dayes (to whom he had been 

1 Page 24. 

a The same writer adds : ' We are equally ignorant as to the amount of intimacy between 
Turner and Dr. Monro, for though the latter did not die till 1833, there is nothing to show 
that they ever met after Turner's students days were over.' Pye declared (MS. Notes) 
that, in Dr. Monro's opinion, the great painter was ' blunt, coarse, vulgar, and sly.' So 
perhaps his patron may not have sought his society. 

3 J. J. J., ex relatione Mr. Chambers Hall. 

* No more is known of his ancestry ; or of a certain ' I. Girtin ' (called 'James ' in the 
Catalogue of the South Kensington Art Library), who etched a series of poorly executed 
Portraits of Celebrated Painters, published, with some by other hands, in 410, 1817. 

G 2 



84 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. n 

apprenticed), and also assigned to him by his own family. Pye, in 
his MS. Notes, gives the same date, as copied from a mourning ring 
worn by his widow, and best evidence of all from one worn by 
his mother, who survived him. 

' From his earliest childhood,' says Pye, 1 ' he displayed a decided 
passion for drawing and modelling ; ' covering ' every scrap of paper 
that came to hand,' add the Messrs. Redgrave, 2 ' with his boyish 
fancies ; but,' continue the latter writers, ' as he himself said that 
other boys of his own age, ten or twelve, who amused themselves or 
idled in the same way, drew as well as himself, we may be assured 
that there was nothing very marked in these childish efforts.' His 
mother, humouring his taste, allowed him to take some elementary 
lessons in drawing from one Mr. Fisher, of Aldersgate Street, close by ; 
and, when he was old enough, apprenticed him to Dayes. 

Thornbury, in his ' Life of Turner,' give a melodramatic account 
of Dayes's unjust behaviour, and Girtin's subsequent rescue from his 
tyranny. The apprentice, finding himself regarded only as a means 
of getting money, and that he was paying back in work more than 
the value of his premium, rebels, and is cast into prison for contu- 
macy. There he shows his genius by decorating with landscapes the 
walls of his cell. They astonish the warder and attract the curious ; 
and then there comes upon the scene a deus ex machina in the shape 
of the great Earl of Essex, who buys up the indentures, burns them 
before the young artist's eyes, and carries him off to ' the almost regal 
uxury of Cassiobury, where Girtin, free and happy,' produces ' some 
of his greatest works." 

All this reads rather like a picturesque romance introduced for the 
sake of a learned parallel drawn from the life of ' Fra Lippo Lippi ; ' 
and some will prefer the tale in the less varnished, if somewhat caustic, 
words of John Pye. 3 Young Girtin, he tells us, soon excelled his 
master, which 'this jealous and small-minded creature ' never forgave 
him. The praise bestowed upon his pupil was gall to him, and 
increased his hatred. In order to check his progress, he employed 
him to colour prints week after week and month after month. This 
was his employment till, feeling himself designed for better things, he 
expostulated with Dayes, telling him he was placed with him to learn 
to draw, not to colour prints. His tyrant insisted on his obedience. 

' MS. Notes. 

1 Century of Painters, \. 387 ; and see Library of Fine Arts, iii. 310. * MS. Notes. 



CH. I TURNER AND GIRTIN AS STUDENTS AND REFORMERS 85 

Girtin refused ; on which Dayes committed him to prison as a 
refractory apprentice. The Earl of Essex, hearing of his imprison- 
ment, went to see him, and saw that he had covered the walls of his 
room with spirited sketches. Pleased with the young man's frank 
and open manner, he released him from confinement and from the 
tyranny of Dayes by buying up his indentures ; and from that time 
to the day of Girtin's death, the Earl continued to be one of his 
kindest friends and patrons. 

We have seen, however, that Girtin in these days was not above 
turning an honest penny by ' colouring prints.' It was shortly after 
his pupilage with Dayes that he was engaged by Raphael Smith for 
this sort of work. The occupation was not quite of the infantine 
kind which we are accustomed now to consider it. It is true that 
modern children get an early knowledge of colour from so using their 
boxes of paints ; but it is also true that water-colour art itself was, in 
its infancy, almost confined to a similar practice. There exists a 
curious treatise, a tract of sixty-four octavo pages, ' printed for J. 
Peele, at Locke's Head in Amen Corner, Paternoster Row, 1731,' 
entitled The Art of Painting and Drawing in Water-Colours, ' put 
together,' as the writer tells us, ' after years of study and labour, at 
the instance of a noble friend for his instruction ' in the said art. It 
treats mainly of the sources and mode of preparation of certain 
' transparent colours of every sort.' But the chief or only use to which 
these pigments are described as applicable, is the colouring or tinting 
of engravings. One of the leading chapters is headed, ' Of colours 
for illuminating of prints in the best manner, or of Painting in Water 
Colours.' And the few practical instructions which follow, show that 
there is a certain technique to be studied even in so apparently simple 
an operation. If the paper be ' pure white,' no colour is to be used 
upon it. All 'heavy colours,' that is to say colours with much body, such 
as vermilion and Indian red, will, unless used in moderation, ' drown 
the shades or strokes of the engraver.' Sometimes, however, adds the 
writer, in a saving clause of perhaps unintended irony, ' they had better 
be hidden than preserved.' ' From this early colouring of engravings 



' The work concludes with a description of a ' portable case for colour,' to be mnde in 
ivory with thirty-two circular cavities, for pigments to use with gum-water, not unlike in 
arrangement the tin field-sketching boxes in familiar use in the present day. But the writer 
has no idea of such an apparatus being used for landscape after nature. He merely recom- 
mends it to ' such persons who are curious in making observations of the colours of flowers, 



86 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. n 

the use of transparent water-colour had been extended, as we have 
seen, to the staining and tinting of grey drawings ; and when aquatint 
came afterwards to be extensively employed as an efficient means of 
multiplying such coloured designs almost in facsimile, the occupation 
of washer became, as we shall see, a regular branch of business, in 
which many persons were employed by the publishers of prints. It is 
not a bad kind of drill for training a young artist's hand ; for some 
practice is required to lay washes evenly and of due tone, as indeed to 
do anything well, down to so simple a matter as turning the handle of 
a barrel organ. 

But Girtin, and Turner with him, were at the same time taking 
lessons from nature. The shores of the Thames at Westminster, 
Lambeth, and Chelsea, not then, or for very many years to come, 
bound in and stiffened by a granite border, but irregular and ragged, 
with a garniture of mud-banks, and abounding in picturesque groups 
of stranded barges, floating river-craft, and old ramshackle wharves, 
afforded prolific subjects for an artist's pencil. Girtin said that a 
study he made of the steps of the old Savoy palace then in ruins ' was 
a lesson from which he dated all the future knowledge he displayed in 
the pictorial representation of ruined masonry.' ' Thus they acquired 
skill with the brush, which got them other professional work besides 
that of colouring prints. Between 1788 and 1790 both Girtin and 
Turner were employed by architects to wash in skies and perhaps add 
backgrounds as well as to lay flat tints. And so we find Tom Girtin 
at seventeen or eighteen selected to make topographic drawings for 
Walker's magazine, 2 and one of the young artists at work at Dr. 
Monro's. 

There was another amateur and collector of landscape drawings, a 
very near neighbour of Dr. Monro's, who, probably following his 
example, allowed young artists to make copies from the works of 
older masters. This was Mr. John Henderson, who lived at No. 3 or 
No 4 3 Adelphi Terrace. Both Girtin and Turner availed themselves 
largely of the privilege so offered ; and as the copies they made, or 

to have always in their pocket.' Mr. Redgrave {Descriptive Catalogtie, 1 6) points to the 
republication of this work in 177 as evidence that the materials of water-colour art had not 
improved at the latter date. 

1 Redgrave's Century of Painters, i. 388-9. 

* One was the 'Windsor,' published I May, 1792, before mentioned ; the other was 
Woolwich,' published I May, 1793. 

' Thornbury's Life of Turner, p. 55, 2nd edit. 



CH. I TURNER AND GIRTIN AS STUDENTS AND REFORMERS 87 

some of them, remained in Mr. Henderson's possession, and have now, 
under his son's bequest, become national property, they may be studied 
as living illustrations of the early tastes and tendencies of these two 
artists, and of the difference between them. 

' It would seem that the processes of education they respectively 
adopted were the inverse of one another ; that Girtin acquired a style of 
his own by sketching from nature, and used it as a language to interpret 
the works of other artists ; while Turner, in the early part of his career, 
studied the works of other artists in order to obtain a command of their 
style and manner, that he might apply them afterwards as he found occa- 
sion in the varied interpretation of nature. It was not until he had tried 
his hand against every painter in succession that he formed his own 
distinctive style. In the wide range of his practice, the great painter 
comprised, absorbed, and finally assimilated all. It is fair to assume 
that among the original artists from whom he learnt a lesson was his 
early friend and companion, Tom Girtin. 

' Turner was a pupil of Malton's, and Girtin of Dayes's, but it 
happened that each studied for practice the works of the other's 
teacher. Turner's copies from Dayes were so nearly facsimiles, that 
they have deceived collectors, whereas Girtin's drawings after Malton 
have his own colour and handling engrafted upon the light and shade 
of the original.' ' 

' Girtin's drawings made for Mr. Henderson in or before I793/ 
says Pye, 2 'are, as far as outlines go, three copies of Malton's 
engraved views, the Mansion House, the Royal Exchange, and St. 
George's Church. They are like Malton's in form and perspective ; 
but in nothing else. They are invested with new effects, being com- 
posed alike of colour and clair-obscur, and can only be justly appre- 
ciated by being seen. The subjects respectively are so changed that 
by being seen in new dresses beside the prints, they receive irresistibly 
the charm of fine art.' There are also copies by Girtin from Canaietti, 
Piranesi, Hearne, Marlow, and Morland, in the same collection, which 
are impressed with like originality. At Mr. Henderson's, Turner is 
said * to have preferred copying from Hearne, while Girtin copied from 
Canaietti and Piranesi. The biographer of Girtin in the ' Gentleman's 
Magazine ' tells us that Canaietti was the first master that struck his 
attention forcibly ; and his earliest penchant appears to have been 

1 The Spectator, 14 Aug. 1875. " MS. Notes. 

8 Miller's Picturesque Weil's hy Turner and Girtin. 



88 LIFE AND' TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. II 

for architectural subjects of the kind treated by that painter. It 
might be added that the same feeling is manifested in the last work 
on which his dying hand was engaged his series of views in Paris. 
He is also said to have derived much profit from a study of Wilson. 1 

In 1794, the year in which the life of Cozens virtually ended, 
Girtin had his first work at the Academy. It was a drawing of ' Ely 
Minster.' From that time till the year 1801, the last but one of his 
short life, he continued to exhibit annually except in the year 1796. 
He is said to have made a journey into Wales in 1794, but no Welsh 
subject is named among these until 1799, when he sends -two views of 
' Bethkellert.' Next year, 1795, he has two drawings, 'Warwick 
Castle ' and ' Peterborough Cathedral.' 

We also hear less of Girtin than of Turner, as employed by archi- 
tects. The latter is said 2 to have been still engaged in 1796 in 
supplying their drawings with pictorial attraction. But Girtin, besides 
affording this aid to professional brethr n, was beginning to be in 
request by amateurs. He found profitable occupation in giving them 
lessons, 3 and their sketches were placed in his hands that he might 
put in the appropriate ' effects.' 

He was not a student of the Academy, but, as Pye observed, 4 he 
does not appear to have been less conversant with the elements of art 
than Turner, who was an Academy student. For landscape art was not 
taught in the schools. Its rules had not been formulated, and its 
growing traditions were as yet possessed by a few practitioners only. 

Girtin's taste and knowledge led to his employment in a capacity 
allied to that which had given experience to the pencils of Cozens 
and ' Warwick ' Smith. He was taken, not into Italy, but, what was 
more conducive to the development of his natural style, into the 
mountainous and picturesque regions of his own country. He became 
the travelling companion of Mr. James Moore, F.S.A., 5 an antiquary 
and amateur topographer, to whose introduction to the scenery of 
Scotland and .Yorkshire is attributed a change which now came over 

1 Library of the Fine Arts, hi. 317. 2 Letter from the late Mr. Bonomi to John Pye. 

8 Turner also gave lessons when a young man. ' There are old people still living,' says 
Thornbury, ' who remember Turner in 1795 or 1796 that is to say, when he was twenty or 
twenty-one, and taught in London, at Hadley (Herts), and at other places.' His biographer 
is probably right in adding : ' He was too reserved and too tongue-tied to be able to teach 
what he knew, even had he cared to disclose his hard-earned secrets.' 

4 MS. Notes. 

5 ' Girtin, Turner, and Dayes at various times travelled with Mr. Moore to execute 
drawings for him, for his topographical works.' J. J. J. 



CH. I TURNER AND GIRTIN AS STUDENTS AND REFORMERS 89 

his manner of painting, and a sudden strengthening, in his hands, of 
the power of water-colour art. Inspired by the 'dark and true and 
tender ' North, he ' began to treat mountain and lake scenery in a 
manner very different from his predecessors,' imitating the effects of 
' heavy overhanging clouds throwing the vast mass of a mountain 
which occupied the whole distance under a deep and solemn mass of 
gloom.' l A ' daring style of effect ' and a ' grandeur and originality 
of conception in light and shadow,' for which he was soon to become 
celebrated, arose, it is said, from a chance observation of the solemn 
change produced by twilight in a scene of buildings, bridge, and river 
in an ' ancient town,' whereof he had made a midday outline under 
the broad sun. Hence, acquiring ' a habit of looking at Nature, 
clothed in her morning and her evening robe,' he was afterwards 
enabled to ' throw either garb over his own landscape compositions 
at his will.' 2 He became ' fond of contrasting cool shadows with 
warm and brilliant lights spread over the picturesque ruins in which 
he delighted, giving by these means an appearance of sunshine and a 
splendour of effect, startling to those who had been accustomed to 
the tamer manner of the topographers, or even to the poetical tender- 
ness of the works of Cozens.' 3 

Girtin is said to have accompanied Mr. Moore to ' Peterborough, 
Lichfield, Lincoln, and many other places remarkable for their rich 
scenery, either in nature or architecture ; ' 4 and the subjects of his 
drawings, exhibited or engraved, show that he made sketches in 
various parts of England and Wales. It was probably in 1796 that he 
first went to Scotland. He had nothing at Somerset House that year, 
and nothing from his hand had been published in Walker's magazine 
since May 1793. But he has no fewer than ten drawings in the 
Academy exhibition of 1797, two from Scotland, two from North- 
umberland, and six from York, besides an elaborate interior of St. 
Alban's Church 5 which shows that as an architectural draftsman he 
had already arrived at the maturity of his power. 

In the ' Copper Plate Magazine,' volume iii., with various dates in 
1 797, there are ' Warkworth,' ' Newcastle-upon-Tyne,' and ' Bamborough 
Castle,' as well as ' Marlow Bridge,' by Girtin, and also the following 

1 Redgrave's Century of Painters, \. 390-3. 2 Somerset House Gazette, i. 82. 

1 Redgrave's Century of Painters, ubi supra. 4 Thornbury's Life of Turner, p. 76. 

5 Formerly in the possession of Sir William Tite, and afterwards in that of Mr. Edward 
Cohen. It was exhibited at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1871 and 1875, and at the 
Grosvenor Gallery in 1877-78. 



90 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. II 

plates from ' Sketches by James Moore, Esq.,' viz. ' Lincoln,' ' Duff 
House, Bamffshire,' ' Exeter,' ' Elgin Cathedral,' and ' Jedburgh Abbey,' 
in all of which, though Girtin's name does not appear, there can be 
little doubt that he had a hand. But these prints of Walker's do 
not enable us to form a judgment as to the quality of the original 
drawings. 

He had by this time left his mother's lodgings in St. Martin's-lc- 
Grand. In 1797 we find him at 35 Drury Lane. The next year he 
is at 2 5 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, and in 1799 at 6 Long Acre. 
Thus Girtin, young as he was (he attained his majority in 1796), 
became established as an artist of note, and, what was more to his 
professional advantage, as a favourite teacher of water-colour drawing. 

As had been the case with Gainsborough, the manner of Girtin's 
painting, broad in its generalization, and well adapted to express his 
conceptions in an abstract form, had in it some salient features which 
attracted a host of superficial imitators. An effective opposing of 
warm colours to cold, and dark tones to light, and a unity obtained 
by the sacrifice of detail and of natural variety, were all that con- 
stituted in their eyes the ' style ' of Girtin. On the strength, in part 
at least, of their imitations, Girtin himself has been charged with 
affectation, and a tendency to degenerate into a mannerist ' or a 
chiqueur? Dayes, his old master, who was never cured of the grudge 
he bore his too clever pupil, declared that because ' master Tom 
chose to wash in dirty water,' his imitators not only washed in dirty 
water too, but ' in the very puddle water which he had made more 
dirty.' And when, shortly before Girtin's death, a portfolio of crude 
works by a disciple of the school was placed before Dayes for 
approval, he persisted in holding them up to ridicule as the result of 
an application of ' the blue bag.' 3 

It is not to be inferred, however, from the above remarks, that 
Girtin's teaching was of a superficial character, or that he was ever 
likely to become a trickster, like Payne. He ' did not,' says his 
biographer Miller, ' flatter amateurs, and pretend to teach them 
secrets for money.' The Dowager Duchess of Sutherland (who in 
Girtin's time was Lady Gower), one of many persons whom he 
taught in the higher ranks of society, used to say that ' he told every - 

1 Somerset House Gazette, i. 82. * Redgrave's Century of Painters, i. 396. 

1 Somerset House Gazette, utii supra. 



CH. I TURNER AND GIRTIN AS STUDENTS AND REFORMERS 91 

thing' to his favourite pupil Lady Long, 1 wife of Sir Charles Long, 
afterwards Lord Farnborough. ' He would point out the time of 
the day, the cast shadows and particular effect suited to the time 
and scene &c. a mode of teaching far in advance of the time.' 2 

Nor did he confine the benefit of his instruction to the wealthy 
dilettante, who paid him so much a lesson. His painting-room was 
ever open to his brother artists, and he was always happy to give 
them the benefit of his advice and instruction. Indeed, he was often 
blamed by his friends for allowing them to stand over him while at 
work, that they might see how he produced his effects. 3 

It is perhaps due to this open liberality of Girtin's that writers 
have been able to describe his technical processes in considerable 
detail. The following account is extracted from the Somerset House 
Gazette* ' Girtin made his drawings, with but few exceptions, on 
cartridge paper. 5 He chose this material as his aim was to procure a 
bold and striking chiaroscuro, with splendour of colour, and without 
attention to detail.' Then, beginning with the sky : ' The azure spaces 
were washed with a mixture of indigo and lake, and the shadows of 
the clouds with light red and indigo, Indian red and indigo, and an 

% 

1 Pyne, writing in 1824, says that Lady Long, besides being, like her husband, a patron 
of the fine arts, ' was known to the world of art ' as having ' a talent for painting and draw- 
ing that might fairly rank her with the professors of the living school,' and that ' among the 
admirers of that lady's topographical drawings, none were more ardent than Girtin.' 
(Somerset House Gazette, ii. 129.) 

' J. J. J. ex relation }. Holland. J. J. J. < Vol. i. pp. 66, 83, 84. 

* ' He was the first,' says his biographer in the Gentleman's Magazine, 'who introduced 
the custom of drawing upon cartridge paper, by which means he avoided that spotty glitter- 
ing glare, so common in drawings made on white paper.' ' It is said that the wire-worked 
cartridge he loved to work on was only to be obtained at a stationer's at Charing Cross, and 
was folded in quires. As the half-sheet was not large enough for his purpose, he had to 
spread out the sheet, and the crease of the folding being at times more absorbent than the 
other parts of the paper, a dark blot was caused across the sky, and indeed across the whole 
picture in many of his works. This defect was at first tolerated on account of the great 
originality and merit of his works, and gradually gave a higher value to those in which it 
occurred, being considered a proof of their originality.' (Redgrave's Century of Painters, 
' 393-4- ) ' But,' writes Mr. Papworth (MS. ) ' in those days paper was paper ; it was made 
of white linen rags reduced to pulp by a badly made wooden machine which left it fibrous. 
Shortly afterwards Mr. Whatman produced, at his manufactory in Kent, a paper called 
vellum paper, which at once superseded all other fabrics. Its texture was calculated to receive 
the pigments and to bear out [sic] with a vigour of effect that the wire-marked paper could 
never be brought to possess." Then 'the progress of science taught the means of adulteration, 
the use of materials which chemically quarrel with each other and the colours, and the 
employment of superbly finished machinery which leaves no fibrous texture. ... In a short 
period the damage of such operations was felt by Turner, who found that his paper required 
preparation ; and even a quarter of a century had not elapsed before " old paper " was 
worth a guinea a sheet to men like Harding.' 



93 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. II 

occasional addition of lake. The warm tone of the cartridge paper 
frequently served for the lights without tinting, acquiring additional 
warmth by being opposed to the cool colour of the azure, and 
shadow of the clouds. . . . When he had accomplished the laying-in of 
his sky, he would proceed with great facility in the general arrange- 
ment of his tints, on the buildings, trees, water, and other objects. 
Every colour appeared to be placed with a most judicious perception 
to effecting a general union, or harmony. His light stone tints were 
put in with thin washes of Roman ochre, the same mixed with light 
red and certain spaces free from the warm tints were touched with 
grey, composed of light red and indigo, or, brighter still, with 
ultramarine and light red. The brick buildings with Roman ochre, 
light red and lake, and a mixture of Roman ochre, lake and indigo, 
or Roman ochre, madder brown and indigo ; also with burnt sienna 
and Roman ochre, madder brown and Roman ochre, and these 
colours in all their combinations. For finishing the buildings which 
came the nearest to the foreground, where the local colour and 'form 
were intended to be represented with particular force and effect, 
Vandyck brown and Cologn-earth were combined with these tints, 
which gave depth and richness of tones, that raised the scale of 
effect without the least diminution of harmony on the contrary, the 
richness of effect was increased from their glowing warmth, by 
neutralizing the previous tones, and by throwing them into their 
respective distances, or into proper keeping. The trees, which he 
frequently introduced in his views, exhibiting all the varieties of 
autumnal hues, he coloured with corresponding harmony to the scale 
of richness exhibited on his buildings. The greens for these opera- 
tions were composed of gambouge, indigo, and burnt sienna, occa- 
sionally heightened with yellow lake, brown pink, and gambouge, 
these mixed too sometimes with Prussian blue. The shadows for 
the trees, with indigo and burnt sienna, and with a most beautiful 
harmonious shadow tint, composed of grey and madder brown ; 
which, perhaps, is nearer to the general tone of the shadow of trees 
than any other combinations that can be formed with water-colours. 
Girtin made his greys sometimes with Venetian red and indigo, 
Indian red and indigo, and a useful and most harmonious series of 
warm and cool greys, of Roman ochre, indigo, and lake, which, used 
judiciously, will serve to represent the basis for every species of 
subject and effect, as viewed in the middle grounds under the 






CH. I TURNER AND GIRTIN AS STUDENTS AND REFORMERS 93 

influence of that painter's atmosphere so prevalent in the autumnal 
season in our humid climate ; which constantly exhibits to the 
picturesque eye the charms of rich effects, in a greater variety than 
any country in Europe.' ' His palette,' says Girtin's biographer in 
the ' Gentleman's Magazine,' ' was covered with a greater variety of 
tints than almost any of his contemporaries.' 

The Messrs. Redgrave ' declare that Girtin was the first who 
followed out a procedure the reverse of that which had hitherto 
prevailed laying in the whole of his work with the true local colour of 
the various parts, and afterwards adding the shadows with their own 
local and individual tints. But they allege that this was only quite 
at the end of his career, and contend that in ' his mode of execution 
he did not add much to the resources of art.' They consider that 
in 1798 Turner was in advance of Girtin in the employment of 
executive processes. 

It has further been said that Girtin was the discoverer of the mode 
of wiping out lights in water-colour painting ; and that he made the 
discovery by an accident. The story is that ' he spilt some drops of 
water upon a drawing, and, fearing that it would injure the part upon 
which it fell, took his handkerchief carefully to sop it up ; when, the 
colour being softened by the moisture, it came away upon the hand- 
kerchief, leaving the exact shape of the spots of water white. It 
struck him that this plan of getting out lights might be applied in 
the progress of a drawing, and he used it with so much success that 
for several seasons his works attracted particular attention in this 
respect. It was supposed that, instead of being taken out after the 
picture was advanced, they were stopped out in the commencement ; 
and the colourmen got up a preparation which they sold under the 
name of ' Girtin's Stopping-out Mixture.' 2 Such a method has, 
indeed, been employed by several artists. 

According to Pyne, the process of ' taking out the lights with 
bread ' was ' a discovery which originated with Turner,' whose 
' magnificent effects, aided by this process, were first exhibited at the 
Royal Academy,' when ' all the painters were puzzled to find out by 
what art he performed this graphic magic.' 3 

Mr. Jenkins contends that ' the best evidence is in favour of 

1 Century of Painters, i. 387, 395. 2 J. J. J. ex relatione T. Cafe. 

Somerset House Gazette, \. 193, 194. The writer proceeds to lament that the most brilliant 
effects produced in this way are transient, owing to the fugitive nature of the colours used 
for glazing. 



94 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. u 

Turner's being the discoverer of some mode of getting out lights." 
He was unable to detect in Girtin's drawings any evidence of his 
having adopted the practice. That painter, he says, ' occasionally 
used some kind of white, as upon a large drawing of the Interior of 
Exeter Cathedral, belonging to Miss Miller, not only upon the 
highest lights, but mixed with colour in touches upon the screen.' 

But there was a third artist in whose behalf a claim to the 
honour of the invention might be put in with perhaps equal plausi- 
bility. This was the Yorkshire painter, Francis Nicholson, above 
mentioned. Nicholson, like all true masters of our water-colour 
school, relied entirely upon transparent pigment for the richness and 
strength of his drawings. And Pyne illustrates the fact by the 
following anecdote, which he puts into the mouth of an informant, 
whom he represents as ' no mean performer himself,' of a visit to the 
iarl of Warwick's collection. ' On looking over his portfolios, con- 
taining the works of Sandby, Rooker, Cozens, Warwick Smith, and 
others of the water-colour school,' says the informant, ' I was struck 
with some clever pieces, scenes in Ireland, executed in body-colours 
by Walmsley, one of the scene-painters at Covent Garden Theatre. 
The subjects were highly picturesque, representing rocks and water- 
falls, his Lordship's favourite studies. " What think you of these ? " 
says my Lord. " I admire them much, sir," answers the professor. 
"The rocks are boldly designed ; but what I most admire is the water, 
rolling so turbulently over its rocky bed. There is the advantage of 
body-colours, my Lord. You can put on the lights ; now, in trans- 
parent water-colours, you must leave the lights ; hence you never can 
represent such scenes with clearness, force, and spirit united. There 
rests one of the insurmountable difficulties of that species of art, touch- 
ing the means for the faithful imitation of nature." "Now, sir," replies 
Lord Warwick, " this is what I expected. Every connoisseur, nay 
almost every artist, has made the same remarks. But, sir, I will 
surprise you ; and that, I trust, most agreeably." His Lordship then 
takes from his portfolio two large drawings, scenes in North Wales, 
of subjects similar to those of Walmsley 's. " Marvellous ! " exclaims 
the critic. "Is it possible? Can these be done in transparent water- 
colours?" "Yes, sir." " By whom, my Lord ?" " By Francis Nichol- 
son, a provincial artist, living in the neighbourhood of York"." " I 
never heard his name, my Lord, till now, but ... he will soon be 
dtterre. Such a genius must be one of us. The metropolis is his 



CH. I TURNER AND GIRTIN AS STUDENTS AND REFORMERS 95 

sphere." '' Nicholson fulfilled the prediction, and was afterwards long 
and profitably settled in London among his confreres of the brush. 

The suggestive nature of Girtin's drawings, so characteristic of a 
true sketch, so different from mere imitation, laid them open to a 
charge of incompleteness. Dayes, in a short, unkind paragraph, 
written after his pupil's death, declares that they were ' generally too 
slight,' though he admits them to be ' the offspring of a strong 
imagination.' Pyne tells us 2 that ' Girtin is supposed to have been 
tempted to work with less regard to correctness of form, in proportion 
to the ease with which he produced richness of colour, on the car- 
tridge paper, compared with the labour of executing on white paper, 
and to have become at last so enamoured with colouring and effect, 
as to consider drawing of little consequence to the general character 
of a picture,' which ' slovenly aberrations of genius ' produced a bad 
effect upon art through the imitations of admiring dilettanti. 

But others who knew him said that he was indefatigable in his 
profession, and equally painstaking in the field and in the studio, his 
devotion to art being unbounded. When sketching from nature, he 
would expose himself to all weathers, sitting out for hours in the 
rain to observe the effect of storms and clouds upon the atmosphere. 
Death itself was believed to have been hastened by a cold he caught 
while painting in the damp air. 3 He ' usually,' says the biographer 
in the ' Gentleman's Magazine,' ' finished the greater part of his drawing 
on the spot,' and ' when he had made a sketch at any place, he never 
wished to quit it until he had given it all the proper tints.' But one 
of his modes of study on the Thames, he being a great lover of river 
scenery, was to be carried up and down on a barge, sketching as it 
floated along. 4 In Miller's Turner and Girtin's Picturesque Views 
there is a woodcut tailpiece representing Girtin sketching from 
nature. He sits upon a three-legged folding-stool in an easy attitude, 
his body thrown back and his feet forward. He wears Hessian boots 
and a tall beaver hat, and seems to be drawing with a pencil on a bit 
of paper folded loosely as one would turn back, in reading it, the 
pages of a pamphlet. This paper he holds in his left hand, which 
rests upon his knee. The place may be in a park, or by the Thames. 
There is at the back a piece of water with a swan upon it. 

1 Somerset House Gazette, i. 30. * Ibid. i. 83. 

* J- J- J. ex relatione Miss Hog and C. Varley. 
4 Idem, ex rel. T. C. Girtin. 



96 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN liK II 

As to his studio work, ' one who had frequently watched his pro- 
gress tells us,' say Messrs. Redgrave, ' that his finely coloured composi- 
tions were wrought with much study, and proportionate manual 
exertion, and that though he did not hesitate, nor undo what he had 
once done, for he worked on principle, yet he reiterated his tints to 
produce splendour and richness, and repeated his depths to secure 
transparency of tones, with surprising perseverance.' ' He is also 
said to have destroyed a vast number of drawings ; for if he made a 
mistake in any of the tints, he would throw the drawing away. 
Glover, it seems, did the same. 2 Mr. Jenkins remarks that ' no 
greater proof could be advanced of the extreme timidity with which 
the early water-colour draftsmen worked. Being unaware of the 
modes since adopted of taking out unsatisfactory parts of a drawing, 
they considered the whole spoiled if they did not ' hit upon the tints 
at once.' This limitation of means may, however, have had the 
salutary effect of enforcing reliance on mastery of hand, instead of 
inducing dependence on remedial processes. 

Besides the employment he received as a teacher, Girtin was 
encouraged by the favour of many noble and wealthy patrons, who 
not only threw open to him their houses and collections of art 
treasures, but gave work to his pencil. To the names already men- 
tioned are to be added those of Sir George Beaumont ; Mr. Lascelles, 3 
who noticed him early and gave him the use of his collection ; the 
Hon. Spencer Cowper, ' who had the largest and finest collection of 
Girtin's drawings of any gentleman of that day ; ' 4 Lord Hardwicke ; 
the Earl of Mulgrave ; General Phipps ; the Earl of Buchan ; and, 
most hospitable of all, the Earl of Harewood, who was not only one 
of his earlier patrons, giving him the advantage of his society and of 
his picture gallery to form his taste by, but who had a room kept for 
him at Harewood House, where he lived for long periods together, 
and made some of his most important drawings. 5 

1 Century of Painters, i. 391 ; and see Library of Fine Arts, iii. 318. 

2 J. J. J. ex relatione E. Dorrell. 3 Gentleman's Magazine. 
* Miller's Turner and Girtin's Picturesque Views. s J. J. J. MSS. 



CH. I 97 



CHAPTER II 

GIRTIN AND HIS COMPANIONS 

Harris the dealer Girtin's Sketching Society Its rules and members franetallis 
career Co/man As 'Thaddeus of Warsaw' Old artist quarters Barker Panoramas 
Sir K. K. Porter Battle-pieces Girtin's view of London What has become of it? 
Turner takes to oils Becomes A. R.A. 

WHILE in the enjoyment of all this direct patronage, and thus, one 
would think, above the necessity of paying his court to the dealers, 
it seems curious that Girtin should have been rather inclined to sell 
his works through their medium than at once to persons who wished 
to possess them. But such is said to have been the fact, 1 and that 
many of his drawings passed through the hands of one Harris, a 
frame-maker of Gerrard Street, Soho, who seems to have found his 
interest in gathering around him some of the choice spirits of the 
artist fraternity, in whom the Bohemian element was not wanting. 

It is quite possible that Girtin, with his sociable nature, may have 
enjoyed a chat at ' Jack Harris's tavern club ' even, as alleged, with 
' that wild reprobate Morland,' 2 but it is more agreeable to picture 
him as the centre of a social reunion of a much more refined descrip- 
tion, in which he certainly took part. To him has been assigned the 
credit of having been the first to form one of the many pleasant 
sketching coteries which have existed among artists and amateurs 
from his time to the present. It is not improbable that with him the 
idea originated of a sociable evening meeting, once a month or so, of 
friends of artistic proclivities, and more or less brothers of the brush, 
to indulge their fancy and their taste in a couple of hours' sketching, 
illustrating in friendly rivalry a given subject ; and, likely enough, it 
was suggested by the recollection of his own profitable evenings in 
Adclphi Terrace. There have been larger and more distinguished 
societies of the same kind, but we hear of none of earlier date than 

1 Redgrave's Century of Painters, i. 399. - Thornbury's Life o) Turner, p. 66. 

H 



98 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. H 

that established by Girtin and his comrades a year or two before the 
close of the eighteenth century. 

An interesting minute of the first meeting of the society is pre- 
served at the South Kensington Museum on the back of a drawing in 
the water-colour collection there, entitled ' A landscape composition ; 
Moonlight,' on which are inscribed the following words and figures : 
' This drawing was made on Monday, May the aoth, 1799, at the room 
of Robert Ker Porter of No. 16 Great Newport Street, Leicester 
Square, in the very painting room that formerly was Sir Joshua 
Reynolds's and since has been Dr. Samuel Johnson's ; and for the 
first time on the above day convened, a small and select Society of 
Young Painters under the title (as I give it) of the Brothers met 
for the purpose of establishing by practice a school of Historic 
Landscape, the subjects being original designs from poetick passages ; 

L s . FRANCIA. 
' The Society consists of 

Worthington, 

J. C. Denham, Treaf, 

R' K r Porter, 

T 8 Girtin, 

T s Underwood, 

G Samuel, 

& L s Francia, Secret 1 ! 

The above minute seems to mean that it was Francia, not Girtin, 
who actually founded the Society. 

This FRANCOIS Louis THOMAS FRANCIA, which appears to be 
his full name, though he is generally known as ' Louis Francia ' 
simply, was one of Girtin's fellow-students at Dr. Monro's. He was 
a Frenchman, believed to have been born at Calais in 1772,' and 
therefore a little older than Girtin. He is chiefly known in bold, 
moving sea-pieces, but he painted on shore also, and with a power, 
and an eye for broadly massed composition and mellowness of 

1 The usual biographers do not tell us much about ' Louis Francia,' and what little they 
have to say is contradictory and not all to his credit. Pilkington, having in a decisive way 
placed his birth within the present century, sets him down as Girtin's pupil. Now, whether 
we give the year 1800 to this century or to the last (a question much discussed at that era), 
Francia could not, on the above theory, have been quite three years old when Girtin died, 
and his precocity must have equalled that of the infant in the ' Bab Ballads ' who died ' an 
old dotard ' at the age of five. And moreover he was, as we see, secretary to ' the Brothers ' 
in May 1799. Redgrave, more definitely and with greater plausibility, tells us that he was 
born at Calais on 21 Dec., 1772. 



CH. II GIRTIN AND HIS COMPANIONS 99 

colour, so suggestive of Girtin as to have led to his works being 
sometimes attributed to that master himself. Among some manu- 
script notes referring to the time we are considering, or a few years 
earlier, which were furnished to Mr. Jenkins by J. P. Neale, the 
topographic draftsman, who was four years older than Girtin, there 
is a casual reference to Francia, as an assistant at a drawing-school 
in Furnival's Inn Court, Holborn, kept by one J. C. Barrow, where 
John Varley was also employed. The writer describes him as ' a 
conceited French refugee, who used to amuse the party with his 
blundering absurdities.' In the list of subscribers to 'The Works 
of the late Edward Dayes,' Svo, 1805, is 'Lewis Francia, Drawing 
Master, 5 Lower Phillimore Place, Kensington.' Graves notes eighty- 
five landscapes exhibited by Francia at the Royal Academy between 
1795 and 1821. He is also said to have made many drawings for, 
and as ' painter in water-colours to,' the Duchess of York. And he 
published the following books of prints : ' Studies of Landscapes 
imitated from the originals by L. Francia, 1810,' apparently soft- 
ground etchings, some designed by himself being excellent sugges- 
tions of landscape composition ; and four ' Marine Studies by 
L. Francia, 1822.' Published by Rodwell and Martin, New Bond 
Street. Price 2s. in 'C. Hullmandel's Lithography,' with a vignette 
title. All these are very slight sketches, probably for students to 
copy. Francia is further mentioned by Redgrave as ' a member 
and for a time secretary of the Water-Colour Society.' But the body 
referred to is not the Society whose history these pages are intended 
specially to record. It was a rival association of which some account 
will be given in the sequel. According to the same biographer this 
artist died on the 6th of February 1839, at his native Calais, whither 
he had returned in 1817, having failed in the preceding year to gain 
admission to the ranks of the Royal Academy. 1 

Messrs. Worthington and /. C. Denham appear to have been ama- 
teurs. The first was probably Mr. Thomas Worthington, described 2 

1 A notice of Louis Francia, peintre de marine, by E. Le Beau, is contained in the 
Mi-moires de la Societt d* Agriculture de Calais, and was printed separately. There have 
been other artists of the same name (besides the old master Francesco Raibolini, of Bologna). 
A son of Louis Francia's exhibited pictures at the Royal Academy ; and there was a ' Belgian 
marine painter' of the name of Francia, whose death in September 1884 has been recorded. 

1 By Chambers Hall in a letter to John Pye. He is called W. H. Worthington by 
Thornbury. There was an engraver and draftsman of that name and those initials but if 
not born (as Redgrave says) till about 1795, he could not be the man. 

H 2 



ioo LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. H 

as 'a very skilful performer' with the brush, who 'had profited much 
by ' lessons which he for some time received from Girtin. He lived 
at Halliford on the Thames, and had a collection of that painter's 
drawings. 

Robert Ker Porter was a rising artist a few years younger than 
Girtin, addicted to the big brush, who had already composed 'historical ' 
pictures of ambitious magnitude. 

Tliomas Underwood 1 seems to have been a half amateur water- 
colour painter who studied at Dr. Monro's, and George Samuel an 
esteemed landscape painter, chiefly in water-colours, who exhibited 
at the Academy from 1786 to 1823, and had made a hit by a view of 
the frozen Thames in 1789. 

The following were the ways of this little club, which forms the 
model on which the simple rules of later sketching societies have 
usually been framed. They met alternately at each other's houses. 
The subject was generally taken from an English poet, and was 
treated by each in his own way. The member at whose house they 
met supplied strained paper, colours, and pencils, and all the sketches 
of the evening became his property. They met at six o'clock and had 
tea or coffee, worked till ten, and, after a plain supper, separated at 
midnight. 2 

Thornbury tells us that the members were ten in number, adding 
to the seven names recorded by Francia, three more, which, if cor- 
rectly given, would be Augustus Wall Callcott, P. S. Murray, and 
John Sell Cotrnan? Callcott, like Ker Porter, was afterwards knighted, 
when he became a distinguished painter and a Royal Academician. 
Like him also, he had seen a few less summers than Thomas Girtin. 
At this time young Callcott was gradually deserting the sister art of 
music to try his hand at portraiture, his true bent of landscape not 
having yet declared itself. It is more than possible that his evening 
amusement in Tom Girtin's genial company had something to do 

1 Probably the ' R. T. Underwood ' mentioned in Redgrave's Dictionary. Thornbury 
calls him ' S. R. Underwood.' There is a plate of ' Roche Rocks and Chapel, Cornwall,' 
by 'J. R. Underwood,' in Beauties of England and Wales, ii. 517, dated 1802. In Dr. 
Percy's Sale Catalogue he is 'T. R. Underwood.' 

2 Thornbury's Life of Turner, 66 ; Library of the Fine Arts, iii. 316. 

* In the late Dr. Percy's collection of drawings, sold at Christie's in April 1890, was a 
set of seven of the subject, An Ancient Castle, by Callcott, Cotman, Girtin, Murray, Porter, 
Samuel, and Underwood. It is said that Turner refused to join the society because the hnst 
was allowed to have the drawings for his own. (See ' Thomas Girtin,' by F. G. Kitton, in 
the Art Journal for Nov. 1887.) 






CH. II GIRTIN AND HrS COMPANIONS lot 

with its recognition. Murray was, it is believed, one more amateur 
But the third additional name demands a fuller notice. He was 
another of Dr. Monro's clients, and one of the many who became dis- 
tinguished as a professional artist in after life. 

JOHN SELL COTMAN was also Girtin's junior, and must have 
been one of the youngest members of the sketching club. In a yet 
distant chapter he will have to be dealt with as an Associate of the 
Water-Colour Society. At the time now referred to, he was a strug- 
gling student, who had just shaken himself free of the paternal draper's 
shop life at Norwich, under an artistic impulse not to be controlled. 

Some of his early adventures in London, while trying to live by 
his pencil, have been recorded, doubtless with some embellishment, 
by a once well-known pen. Ker Porter used, not unfrequently, to 
bring his sister Jane to the meetings of the sketching club, whereat 
she was sometimes permitted to select themes for the evening's draw- 
ings. 1 It is said that Cotman related to her these incidents of his life, 
and that she afterwards embodied them in that of the hero of her first 
romance, Thaddeus of Warsaw, published in i8o3- 2 There she re- 
lates how Thaddeus (an imaginary descendant of Sobieski, whose 
character she based on that of Kosciuszko 3 ), being an exile in England 
after the subjugation of Poland, and finding himself penniless, had 
recourse to drawing in order to raise the needful. For ' Thaddeus of 
Warsaw ' read ' Cotman of Norwich,' and the story is his, though the 
aristocratic traits of character introduced are far from being appro- 
priate. ' He found,' writes the novelist, ' that his sole dependence 
must rest on his talents for painting. Of this art he had always been 
remarkably fond ; and his taste easily perceived that there were many 
drawings exhibited for sale much inferior to those which he had 
executed for mere amusement. He decided at once ; and purchasing 
. . . pencils and Indian ink, he set to work.' With these materials 
he executes half a dozen drawings, ' recollections of scenes in Ger- 
many,' and takes them to a print-shop in Great Newport Street/ 
where a dealer, declaring such things to be mere drugs, offers him 

1 Thornbury's Life of Turner, 68. 2 J. J. J. MSS. ex relatione Mr. J. B. Tootal. 

3 Thaddeus Kosciuszko lived in what had been Hogarth's house, the south-east corner of 
Leicester Square, where Archbishop Tenison's school now stands. (Hare's Walks in 
London, ii. 127.) 

' Henry Richter, who was born in Great Newport Street in 1772, told Mr. Jenkins that, 
in his early days, this was the only street in London in which there was a prinUeller's. 



loz LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN UK. n 

a guinea for the six, but so offends his dignity by calling him a ' con- 
ceited dauber,' that he walks off in high dudgeon with the roll of 
drawings under his arm. Reduced to greater necessity, he afterwards 
goes again to the same street, and offers the drawings for a guinea at 
another shop there, where a more conscientious dealer not only buys 
them at once, but requests him to furnish six more every week. How 
much of the experiences of the imaginary Count Sobieski are to be 
placed to the credit of this excellent painter of the Norwich school, it 
is impossible to say, but there is at any rate some historic reality in 
the scene wherein the authoress lays this portion of her plot. Her 
pages take us back to the little artists' quarter about Leicester Square 
and Covent Garden, as it existed in the days of her own young-lady- 
hood, where the Porters and Girtin and many of their painter friends 
lived during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. 

It is still possible to trace some of their familiar haunts ; but the 
district has been carved up for wider streets ; old sites are overlaid 
with model lodging houses, new theatres and music-halls, bigger 
shops, art galleries, and co-operative stores ; and its former outlines 
are almost blotted out. Even the name ' Trafalgar Square ' would 
have had no meaning in the days here spoken of. The year 1794, 
during the hard winter whereof Miss Porter brings her noble refugee 
to the Hummums in Covent Garden, was known in naval annals by 
an earlier triumph than Nelson's, that of Admiral Lord Howe, on its 
' glorious First of June.' ' St. Martin's noble church,' she says, ' was 
then the centre of the east side of a long, narrow, and somewhat dirty 
lane of mean houses, particularly in the end below the church. 
Charing Cross with its adjoining streets showed nothing better than 
plain tradesmen's shops ; and it was not until we saw the Admiralty 
and entered the Horse Guards that anything presented itself worthy 
of the great name of London.' ' 

In 1798 Girtin was living, as before stated, at 25 Henrietta Street, 
Covent Garden. Close by, on the south, between that street and 
Maiden Lane, lay Hand Court, where Turner lurked within his 
modest studio. Porter had removed from Bedford Street (No. 38), 
where he was in 1794, just round the corner westward, to 16 Newport 
Street, the very street in which Cotman (or Count Sobieski) 
found the first market for his drawings. It is a dirty little back street 
now (if indeed it exists at all), nearly lost among new buildings, but 
1 Thaddeus of Warsaw, edit. 1831, p. no. 






CH. II GIRTIN AND HIS COMPANIONS 103 

at that time it formed part of the nearest coachway from Lincoln's 
Inn to Piccadilly. Somewhat further on is Lisle Street, where, at the 
large house fronting Leicester Street, Leicester Square, had been 
exhibited, in 1781, the Eidophusikon of Loutherbourg ; and to the 
north whereof is Gerrard Street, haunted with the shades of Jack 
Harris and the literary and artistic frequenters of the old ' Turk's 
Head.' The Cranbourn Street (or ' Alley ') where Hogarth served 
his apprenticeship to a silversmith's engraver, had not yet, nor long 
after, given place to the thoroughfare which now bears that name ; 
and Garrick Street is of still more recent date. The direct communica- 
tion between Covent Garden and Leicester Square was by footways 
through a labyrinth of paved courts, some of which still exist. West- 
ward of, and not quite in a line with Great Newport Street, lies (or 
lay) Little Newport Street ; and there, at No. I, resided at one time 
(possibly at this) our painter's younger brother John, who carried on 
business as a letter and heraldic engraver, and was employed in that 
capacity as assistant at the Bank of England. From the point of 
junction of the two Newport Streets, there still runs, or very lately 
ran, northward, a small street called Porter Street (whether named or 
not from the family above mentioned, this deponent cannot say), and 
southward, parallel to St. Martin's Lane, and between it and Leicester 
Square, one out of many streets in central London called Castle 
Street. Formerly it extended to Charing Cross, but it is now cur- 
tailed by the National Gallery. 1 On the west side of Castle Street 
lived John Hunter, the great comparative anatomist ; and nearly 
opposite, at No. 28, another of the little circle of artist friends in 
which Tom Girtin moved. 

This was HENRY ASTON BARKER, a painter without mention of 
whose name and life's work no complete account can be given of the 
development of that topographic art upon which our water-colour 
school was originally based, and which in the days of its earlier 
maturity still constituted its main support. His father, Robert 
Barker, has the credit of inventing, as well as founding, in 1793, the 
popular exhibition in the north-east corner of Leicester Square, well 
remembered as one of the delights of their youth by elders of the 
living generation, under the name of ' the Panorama.' 

Since this paragraph was written, Porter Street, even Castle Street itself, and nearly 
all that it inherited, have dissolved, to make room for Charing Cross Road. 



104 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. II 

The succession of these wondrous cylindric views, in the centre 
whereof the spectator stood, as one transported, by a genius of Araby, 
into some distant land, or seemed encompassed by the reality of a 
scene which he had already striven in vain to visualize in his mind's 
eye, was for a long series of years an equal source of pleasure and 
profitable instruction to countless persons of all ages. 

Although, as already mentioned, the idea of a continuous picture, 
including the whole circle of the horizon, is said to have occurred to 
Sir George Beaumont when he saw Barret's wall-decorations at 
Norbury Park, and to have even been put by him to an experimental 
test, it was to Robert Barker, who conceived a similar idea indepen- 
dently, that the public were eventually indebted for this interesting kind 
of exhibition. But his younger son, Henry Aston Barker, was his 
principal assistant in the execution of the scheme. It was he who 
went out sketching, at home and abroad, and virtually he who 
designed all the earlier panoramic views. 

Young Barker was not more than a year older than Girtin. He had 
come to London from Scotland in or shortly before 1789, with his 
father (an Irishman of county Meath), and they brought with them a 
view, representing Edinburgh from Calton Hill, with Holyrood House 
in the foreground. It had already been exhibited in that city and in 
Glasgow, and had excited much interest as a proof that it was 
possible to depict a portion of a scene embracing more than sixty 
degrees of the horizon. It was not, indeed, a complete panorama in 
the true sense of the word, for it included no more than one-half of 
the entire circle ; but all the difficulties of perspective had been sur- 
mounted. The sketches for this picture had been made by Henry 
Aston Barker, then a lad of about fourteen ; and his father, who 
had invented a mechanical system of perspective, and taught that 
art in Edinburgh, had pieced the sketches together and adapted 
them to a concave surface. Mr. Barker met with liberal encourage- 
ment from a Scotch nobleman (believed to have been Lord Elcho, 
son of the Earl of Wemyss), and, on coming to London, was 
thereby enabled to exhibit this picture in a large room at No. 28 
Haymarket. 

He placed his son Henry in the schools of the Royal Academy, 
where he and Turner and Robert Ker Porter ' are said to have been 

1 See an account of ' Bob Porter ' in the schools, insisting on adding a helmet and sword 
to the Gladiator (Somerset House Gazette, \. 364). 






CH. II GIRTIN AND HIS COMPANIONS 105 

'great companions and confederates in boyish mischief.' Henry 
Barker is moreover reported to have had a boyish attachment to his 
friend Porter's lively and romantic sister, Miss Jane, the authoress 
above quoted. But Barker was also fond of work. He was an early 
riser like Turner, and used to emulate the industry of John Hunter, 1 
over the way, in Castle Street. Get up, however, as early as he 
would, there the first thing he always saw was the great anatomist, 
poring over his preparations. 

The success of their ' Edinburgh ' induced the Barkers to execute 
another painting of the kind in London, and this time to creep round 
another quarter of the circle. For this, Henry Barker made a number 
of drawings 2 from the top of the Albion Mills, a lofty structure at the 
eastern corner of the Surrey side of Blackfriars Bridge. 3 When 
finished, this three-quarter circle picture was exhibited in 1792, in a 
rough building, apparently not erected for the purpose, at the back of 
Barker's house in Castle Street, and 'abutting on the Apollonicon 
Rooms ' in St. Martin's Lane. Sir Joshua Reynolds went to see the 
picture there, and praised it highly. 4 It only remained to complete 
the whole circumference of the horizon ; but for that it was necessary 
to have a cylindrical room specially adapted to the purpose. This 
was effected in the following year, when the house in Leicester Square, 
with its two circles (to which a third was added long afterwards), was 
erected by subscription, from the designs of Robert Mitchell, of 
Newman Street, 5 and opened, by Robert Barker, under the name, 
then first adopted, of ITANnPAMA. The pictures of Edinburgh 
and London had been executed in distemper ; but the paintings here 
were in oil. On the death of his father, in 1806, Henry Barker carried 
on the concern. He afterwards went to live in West Square, St 
George's Fields, Southwark, where he painted his panorama pictures 
in a wooden rotunda. He also travelled much about the world, 
making sketches for them. He died in i856. 6 

1 John Hunter's house in Leicester Square, where he first began, in 1785, to collect his 
museum, was next to the Alhambra, to the south, between it and Hogarth's. (Hare's Walk 
in London, ii. 127.) The back may have looked upon Castle Street. 

- These drawings were at the same time etched by H. A. Barker, the shading was 
coarsely aquatinted by F. Birnie, and the whole were published in six sheets, about 22 
inches by 17. They are dated 1792 and 1793. 

3 Somerset House Gazette, ii. 152. 

4 J. J. J. ex relatione J. Mascy Wright. 

5 He published an account, with delineations of the building, in 1800. 

8 For many of the above facts see obituary notice of II. A. Barker in the Gentleman'} 
Magazine. 



106 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN EK. n 

These comprehensive landscapes of their friend Barker's seem to 
have raised in the hearts both of Porter and Girtin a desire to execute 
works of a similar kind. The former, some years later, applied the 
plan to ' historical ' painting, and exhibited at the Lyceum l three 
large battle-pieces, the first (in 1799) representing the storming of 
Scringapatam, which was followed by the siege of Acre, and (in 1801) 
the battle of Alexandria. These were carried round three quarters 
of the circle. Another was the battle of Agincourt. 

Battle-pieces have always been favourite subjects with the painters 
of panoramas. Barker's invention was introduced into Paris, where 
a panorama, in a building erected by the American engineer Robert 
Fulton (the inventor of the steamboat) was opened in 1779 with a 
view of the Place de la Concorde. Other views of the kind having 
proved very attractive in that city, the Emperor Napoleon attempted, 
as a means of making himself popular, to establish panoramas in 
every quarter, exhibiting the victories of the French armies, and he 
' gave orders to his architect, Cellerier, to draw out the plans of seven 
panoramas to be erected in the then open space now filled up by 
the Palais de 1'Industrie, but the military events of 1812 turned his 
attention from the design.' 2 Even Barker's panorama in Leicester 
Square opened with a view of the ' Grand Fleet at Spithead.' This 
kind of exhibition has been revived in recent years in Paris and in 
London, and the pictures have again been in most cases representa- 
tions of scenes in modern warfare, a noteworthy exception being that 
of Niagara, now exhibiting at Westminster, which gives an adequate 
idea of what the old cylindrical pictures were. 

Girtin's so-called ' panorama ' was of the peaceful order. It was 
one of ' London,' said to have been painted in his twenty-third year, 3 
that is, in 1797-8, and so nearly the same in subject and other circum- 
stances as Barker's, that much confusion has arisen between them. 
Like his, it was taken from the Surrey side of the river and the foot 
of Blackfriars Bridge, from the top either of the Albion Mills, or 
(according to another account) 4 Sir Ashton Leaver's Museum. Its 
horizon is said to have been semicircular. We are not told what its 

1 The Lyceum was a great exhibition room in the Strand, where the theatre of that name 
now stands. It was originally built for the accommodation of the Incorporated Society of 
Artists, which removed thither from Spring Gardens in 1773. See below. 

1 Galignanfs Messenger, 13 September, 1881. 

3 Redgrave's Century of Painters, 399. 

4 John Pye's MSS. 



CH. It GIRTIN AND HIS COMPANIONS 107 

size was. It must, however, have had a very real look, and have 
contained figures ; for a writer in Notes and Queries l says of it : 'I 
remember when a boy going to see that panorama. I was struck 
with the baker knocking at the door in Albion Place, and wondered 
the man did not move. 1 In one of these views of London (it is not 
clear whether Girtin's or Barker's) there was represented on the Thames 
the Lord Mayor's procession by water to Westminster, which used 
then to take place on the gth of November. As there is no such 
incident in Barker and Birnie's prints, though boats are there intro- 
duced on the river, the probability is that it was Girtin who made a 
feature of the City barges. 

Girtin's ' London ' was exhibited in Spring Gardens, and on view 
there at the time of his death. 2 After that event it appears to have 
lain rolled up in a loft over a carpenter's shop in St. Martin's Lane 
(Thornbury says, at an architect's named Howitt), and 'about the 
year 1825' to have been sold by the second husband 3 of Girtin's 
widow, one Mr. Cohen, to ' some persons in Russia,' or to ' a Russian 
nobleman,' who carried it off to that country. According to one 
statement, 4 it was exhibited in St. Petersburg. The picture itself may 
turn up again, some fine day ; but in the mean time there are materials 
from which a fair conjecture may be made as to what it is, or was, 
like. The outline of the work is 5 in the possession of Miss Miller ; 
and several of the original studies for it, ' very admirably drawn and 
painted,' 6 are in the collection of Girtin's drawings formed by the late 
Mr. Chambers Hall, and now in the British Museum. 

It has been stated that Girtin's ' panorama ' was executed in oil. 
But an examination of these studies, when in Mr. Hall's possession, 
led Mr. Jenkins to doubt the correctness of this assertion. They are, 
he writes, 'splashed with colour, which Mr. Hall stated to be dis- 
temper. They have all the appearance of having been soiled while 
being used in the progress of painting the panorama. This circum- 
stance ' he regards as throwing ' some doubt upon ' the above 
statement, ' and taken in conjunction with the fact that Girtin painted 
some scenes for a pantomime at Covent Garden and consequently 

1 First series, vol. iv. p. 21. * Obituary notice in the Gentleman's Magazine. 

' ]. J. J. MSS. ex relatione Miss Hog. * Pye's MSS. 

5 Or was. See Catalogue of the Girtin Exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club, 
'875 (page 7 ). to which collection Miss Miller contributed many fine drawings of the 
master's. 

6 I- J. J- 



108 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. II 

must have been acquainted with the use of distemper' leads him to 
consider it ' probable that the panorama was also executed in that 
material,' the quality of which is, in that writer's opinion, ' so much 
better suited for the purpose than the glare of oil.' 

Girtin did, it is true, at the latter end of his life, paint a few, but 
very few, pictures in oil, besides the doubtful panorama. His son 
told Mr. Jenkins that there were only two, and Miss Hog, an intimate 
friend of the painter's wife, further said that two large views by him 
of Harewood House were in oil. But the last picture he exhibited, 
namely ' Bolton Bridge, Yorkshire,' at the Royal Academy in 1801, 
was in that medium. It was much noticed at the time, 1 and is 
mentioned in Mr. Redford's List of Art Sales, as having been sold 
in 1803, for 257. 4s. It is possible, as has been alleged, that Girtin 
painted these oil-pictures with a view of gaining admission to the 
Royal Academy, where the claims of water-colour draftsmen to be 
regarded as ' painters ' were not recognized. 

His early companion and fellow-student, Turner, though still 
supporting himself by making topographic drawings, and at the 
same time continuing to develop the resources of water-colour art, had 
for some years past been exhibiting oil-pictures as the means by 
which he hoped to achieve fame as a great artist This ambition was 
doomed to be for a long time bitterly disappointed ; but he at least 
obtained by them his admission to the Academy, as an Associate, in 
1 799 ; in which year he set up his studio in a more genteel quarter, 
at 64 Harley Street, and left for ever the old historic neighbourhood 
about Covent Garden. 

1 Gentleman's Magazine. 



CH. HI 109 



CHAPTER III 
THE LAST YEARS OF GIRTIN 

Girtin's marriage Moves to St. George's Row Studio frequented Playful letters Fatal 
illness Goes to France His Paris sketches Etched and aquatinted Originals at 
Woburn Pantomime scenes Barker in Paris Girtin's death and burial His private 
character Aspersed by Dayes Defended by family Contrasted with Turner's. 

THE time was near at hand for Girtin, too, to make a westward 
move. On the i6th of October, 1800, he took to himself a wife. His 
bride was Miss Mary Ann Borrett, only daughter of Phineas Borrctt, 
an eminent goldsmith of good property, and a liveryman of the 
Goldsmiths' Company, who resided at No. 1 1 Scott's Place, Islington. 
They were married by license at the church of St. George's, Hanover 
Square. The entry in the parish register states that the bride was a 
minor, and that the marriage was ' with consent of her father,' who 
together with ' Ann Borrett ' sign their names as witnesses of the 
ceremony. The ' happy pair ' went to reside at St. George's Row, 1 
only a few doors from old Paul Sandby's. 

That veteran painter was now about seventy-five. During the whole 
of Girtin's life he had been living there ; and there he was to live on 
until seven years after Girtin's death, when he died also. He had a 
studio at the back, abutting on the burial ground behind, where his 
body is interred. 2 But the day of Sandby's art was at length gone 
by. There was a greater attraction than any he could now offer, in 
the sight of our lively and dashing young painter at his work in the 
studio close at hand. Girtin's house was the resort of many persons 
of distinction in society, and all who came were shown up into the 
painting-room. Here, surrounded by callers, the artist would go on 

1 At No. 2, or according to Pye ' No. 9.' (MSS.) 

2 There was exhibited at the Nottingham Museum in 1884 a view by Sandby of the 
cemetery in which his studio appears. A bistre drawing by Girtin of St. George's Row, 
formerly in Dr. Percy's collection, is now at the British Museum. The house with a shade 
over the window was Sandby's. (Percy Catalogue.) 



no LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN P,K. n 

with his work, chatting and telling anecdotes at the same time ; 
liberal, as on all occasions, of his knowledge of art. Lady Gowcr, 
and doubtless Lady Long, were frequent visitors. The young man's 
father-in-law, with a closer eye than his to business, was inclined to 
complain of the professional imprudence of permitting artists so 
frequently to see him paint But Girtin's art was not of the kind that 
is fabricated in studios. 

He still made long visits to the country, and spent much of his 
time at Lord Essex's and Lord Harewood's. During absence from 
home he used to write pretty and playful letters to his wife and her 
mother, often in an easy kind of verse, and very witty and amusing. 
He put scraps of poetry, too, under his drawings. These letters his 
widow unfortunately destroyed, burning them by mistake, with a box 
of others, at the time of her second marriage. 

All this happy life was soon, however, to come to an end ; for a 
fatal illness, which terminated Girtin's short career, had begun to 
develop rapidly. Whether or not he was, as it has been reported, 
afflicted with asthma or consumption, the disease which finally caused 
his death is believed to have been ossification of the heart. His 
health had visibly been failing since the year before his marriage ; 
and in 1801 his condition became so alarming that a change of 
climate was deemed necessary. Lord Harewood, writing to him on 
the 2/th of June, about some drawings which he had been making of 
Harewood, says : ' I received your letter this morning, and am sorry 
to hear that you are under the necessity of going to another climate 
for the benefit of your health.' He was advised to try the Cape of 
Good Hope or Madeira ; but his illness gaining upon him, many of 
his friends persuaded him not to go so far away, and he went no 
farther than Paris. 

For this an opportunity now offered itself. The preliminaries of 
the Peace of Amiens were signed on the ist of October, 1801, and 
that occasion of a visit to the Continent, which had been closed during 
the time of war, was embraced by him, as it was by so many of his 
countrymen. At first, however, it required considerable interest to 
be allowed to go to Paris, particularly in the case of English artists. 
This was exerted on Girtin's behalf by one of his numerous friends 
and patrons, the above-mentioned Sir Charles Long, who was at 
that time Under Secretary of State. 

The following letter, however, dated 'October I7th, iSoi,' seems 



CH. ill THE LAST YEARS OF GIRTIN in 

to show that he did not even then contemplate leaving England : 
' To Mr. Harrison at Aid" Boydells. Friend Harrison, I am so 
very ill that I am advised to go into the country for a little while. I 
shall desire a person to call upon you if in case you should have 
occasion for anything who will attend to my business during my 
absence. If you will have the goodness to send what orders you 
may want to my mother Mrs. Vaughan, 1 Duke Street, Little Britain, 
she will take care to let the person know. I'm sorry to hear you 
have been ill. I hope your better. Yours respectfully, 

( T. GIRTIN. 

'Drury Lane 56. ' 2 

Girtin went to Paris in November of the same year, 1801, his 
brother John, it is said, lending him ioo/. for the purpose. There 
was inducement enough to visit the French capital at this time, 
without the excuse of ill health. He derived, indeed, no bodily 
benefit from the change ; on the contrary, he was found to be much 
worse when he returned home. While in Paris, however, as well as 
in one or two of the towns he passed through, 3 ' he executed a large 
number of sketches, which for boldness betokened no decay of 
power,' and are reckoned as in some respects his best works. For 
convenience, and possibly in prudence also, as the Parisians were said 
to be jealous of sketching, particularly by foreigners, he took all the 
views which he made during his residence in Paris, from the windows 
of a carriage which he engaged for his daily drives. In this fashion 
' he recorded,' says Pye, ' in a number of sketches the first impressions 
of his mind on seeing the great features of that remarkable city.' 4 
But he found himself lonely and solitary in Paris ; and no wonder. 
He had had to go alone, for his young wife was within a month of 
her confinement. She went to stay with her parents at Islington, and 
their child was born on the loth of December, during the father's 
absence abroad. His health still declining, Girtin returned to 
England in May 1802. He had then but six months to live; and 

1 Oirtin's mother had married a Mr. Vaughan, a pattern-drawer. Miller, in Turner and 
Girtiifs Picturesque Views, assuming that the marriage took place shortly after her first 
husband's death, conjectures that both Girtin and Turner derived from this stepfather their 
introduction to art. Possibly this was the Thomas Vaughan mentioned by Ottley, in his 
supplement to Bryan, p. 149, as residing in Spitalfields, and the master of Robert Seymour 
the caricaturist. 

2 From an autograph lately in the collection of Mr. W. V. Morten. 
1 Miller's Turner and Girtiifs Picturesque Views. 

* Notes on Turner's ' Liber Studiorum,' p. 47 . 



ii2 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN UK. n 

these he employed in making for Lord Essex a scries of drawings 
from his Paris sketches, and putting the subjects into a form suitable 
for reproduction through the press. 

The views were drawn in outline, and etched on soft ground by 
Girtin himself. A set of impressions were taken from the plates, and 
upon these he put in the effects in colour, and so converted them into 
the drawings for the aquatint engravers. The drawings, twenty in 
number, were purchased from the artist by the Earl of Essex, and 
were in that nobleman's possession when the work was published. 
His Lordship afterwards presented them to the Duke of Bedford. 1 
Besides so preparing this selection of his sketches for publication, the 
artist painted two of them on a large scale as scenes for Covcnt 
Garden Theatre. One was a view of the Conciergerie for a panto- 
mime by Thomas Dibdin (writer of the celebrated ' Mother Goose, 
of Grimaldi's palmy days), and the other was the Rue St. Denis. 2 
During the Peace of Amiens, Henry Barker also went to Paris, and 
drew a panorama of that city. It is remarkable that the two artists 
should thus for a second time have been engaged in tasks so similar. 

Poor Girtin never went back with his wife to their bright dwelling 
in Hyde Park. During this last sad period of his life they resided at 
her father's house in Islington ; and he had painting-rooms at one 
Norman's, a frame-maker's in the Strand, where he worked on till the 
pencil literally dropped from his weakened grasp. There was still an 

1 Mr. Jenkins, in a note dated 5 November, 1853, states that he saw these drawings in 
the hands of Mr. John Pye, the engraver, who was writing a little account of Girtin to append 
to the work, and adds : 'They are exquisitely drawn and tinted, and the gradations which 
give space admirably managed.' In an earlier memorandum, dated n January, 1852, he 
relates that Mr. Pye, some time before, when going over the Library of Woburn Abbey, 
with the librarian, Mr. John Martin, discovered these same drawings there, they having 
previously been supposed by the custodian to be coloured prints. He also states that Mr. 
Pye 'copied some of these drawings and consequently became well acquainted with them.' 
Mr. Pye is not known to have completed this promised account of Girtin. The manuscript 
notes by him respecting that painter, which have occasionally been cited in these pages, 
appear to have been made with a view to a more comprehensive work projected by him, but 
left quite in embryo, on the history of painting in Great Britain, and the influence thereon 
of Turner as well as Girtin. 

2 The Kuf St. Denis is one of the most effective in the engraved series. The street 
leading to the arch is filled with carts and foot-passengers, and wonderfully conveys the air 
of a bustling metropolitan thoroughfare. There was in the collection of Archdeacon Burney, 
and afterwards in that of Dr. Percy, a fine coloured drawing by Girtin of the same subject 
(measuring 15! by igf inches), in which the houses are carried up much higher, and there 
are no figures or carts. It looks like a sketch made on the spot, and it may have been 
used for the scene at Covent Garden. It was bought at the Percy sale, 17 April, 1890, by 
Messrs. Colnaghi & Co., for twenty-three guineas. Another fine view of the arch, taken in 
flank, is in the South Kensington National Collection. 



CH. ui THE LAST YEARS OF GIRTIN 113 

idea of sending him abroad, in the vain hope of restoring his health ; 
as appears from the following letter from Sir George Beaumont, 
referring apparently to the projected publication of the Paris views : 
' Dear Sir, I have just received your letter at this place. The 
pleasure I feel at your successful labours is much alloyed by the in- 
different account you give of your health. You must take care of 
yourself, and I hope you will be enabled so to settle your concerns 
that you may pass the winter in Madeira. You will there find ample 
materials for your pencil, and the air is the most salubrious, in the 
world. I have no doubt but you will secure good impressions for 
me ; and if you will send me a line to let me know you receive this, 
I will return you a note for the money. If you write by the return 
of the post, I shall receive it here, otherwise direct to me at W. Aston, 
Woodstock. Lady Beaumont joins with me in best wishes for your 
success, and the return of your health. I am, dear Sir, your sincere 
well wisher, G. W. BEAUMONT. Cheltenham, Octr. 25th, 1802, or at 
Oldfield Bowles, Esqre., W. Aston, Woodstock.' 

But Girtin had set out on a longer journey. He could not wait 
to select artists' proofs for his friend and patron. A fortnight after, 
when his wife was with him one night in the studio, he died. It was 
the gth of November, Lord Mayor's day. The crowd, that had come 
out to view the City pageant, swept by under the now darkened 
window ; and admiring visitors to the show-room in Spring Gardens 
had to be told next day that the hand which made that pageant live 
again in the view they had come to gaze on, would wield a brush 
no more. 

The loss which had been sustained by Girtin's death was testified 
by a group of patrons and admirers who followed his remains to the 
grave. Among them were the artists Sir William Becchey, Sir George 
Beaumont, Hearne, Edridge, and Turner. He was buried in the old 
familiar quarter ; in the churchyard of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, on 
the south side of the burial ground to the left of the paved path to 
Bedford Street. In 1803 by whom it is not known, some say by 
Turner a neat monumental stone was erected there, with the inscrip- 
tion, ' Sacred to the memory of Thomas Girtin, Artist, who departed 
this life Nov. the gth, 1802, aged 27 years.' It is gone now, and Miller ' 
says that the grave, 'just beyond the second tree,' is marked by 'a 
flat stone, which bears neither name nor date.' But he prints a 

1 Turner ami Girtin's Picturesque Views, p. xliv. 

I 



114 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN JSK. n 

woodcut of a stone fragment, with an urn and festoons upon it 
carved over the above words. ' This,' he says, ' was once propped up 
near the grave.' It looks like part of an upright headstone, and its 
design does not seem to support his theory that it originally lay, like 
the present stone, flat upon the ground. 

It is just to add a few words respecting Girtin's private character, 
on which some cruel aspersions were cast in a short notice of him 
written by his jealous master, Edward Dayes, and published in 1805 
in a posthumous series of Professional Sketches of Modern Artists, which 
the author had left in manuscript. They have been repeated by other 
. writers 1 on, apparently, no better foundation. After duly warning 
young persons not to ' suffer their passions to overpower their reason ' 
so as to 'destroy existence,' and ending his moral reflections with the 
back-handed compliment to his too clever pupil, ' Had he not trifled 
away a vigorous constitution he might have arrived at a very high 
degree of excellence as a landscape painter,' poor Dayes, with the 
irony of fate, laid violent hands on himself, and put an end to his 
own life. 

Inferences to support this charge of intemperance, and that 
Girtin's death was hastened by excess, have been drawn from his 
associating with George Morland. Assuming it to be true, however, 
as stated, that these two painters once made a voyage together in a 
collier, and that Girtin supped not unfrequently with Harris the 
dealer, where Morland supped also, it is not a necessary deduction 
that he was a partaker of Morland's vices. They were not ' boys 
together ;' for Morland was twelve years older than Girtin. That 
Girtin appreciated Morland's genius may indeed be inferred from an 
anecdote related by Dawe, who tells us 2 that a print of the latter 
artist's ' Mail Coach in a Storm ' was 'highly admired by Girtin, who, 
having been requested to make a companion to it, after studying it 
for some time, threw down his pencil, exclaiming that he could do 
nothing like it.' 3 But neither of Morland's biographers, Dawe or 
Collins, even mentions a companionship between them. The acquaint- 
ance may possibly have been made through John Raphael Smith 
(older still by another eleven years), under whom, as we know, Girtin 

1 See Somerset House Gazette, \. 66, 82 ; Library of the Fine Arts, iii. 315, 319 ; &c. 

* Life of Morland, 200 n. 

' Mr. Henderson had a copy by Girtin after a picture of Morland's called ' Dogs hesi- 
tating about the Pluck,' whirh copy, as usual, was impressed with his own originality. See 
Burlington Fine Arts Club Catalogue, 1875, No. 127 (Girtin Exhibition). 



CH. ill THE LAST YEARS OF GIRTIN 115 

used to colour prints. Smith was a sporting buck, but a kind and 
generous man notwithstanding. The ' Morland Gallery ' was one of 
his best speculations. 

The alleged dissipation was wholly denied by Girtin's family and 
their friends, and their story of the sea voyage bears a purely inno- 
cent aspect. It was that Girtin once made an excursion to Scotland 
in company with George Morland, that they performed their passage 
by sea, and, in order to observe character and sketch the sailors, took 
up their position in the men's cabin. This love of the picturesque 
was converted by the detractors of Thomas Girtin into a love of low 
society and intemperate habits; and the fact of Morland's having 
been his companion may have tended to confirm the impression. 
His family indeed represented him as being far more abstemious ' 
than most young men of his day, and even asserted that he was a 
water-drinker. As to social inclination, they attributed to him an 
acquired relish for the refined society which he had enjoyed in the 
company of his noble patrons, which led him to declare, ' with a 
touch of affectation,' says Mr. Jenkins, ' excusable in so young a man, 1 
that he had a dislike for all other society. 2 John Pye writes, that 
Girtin's wife was ' extremely angry ' at the report of his being fond of 
low company, as he ' disliked it exceedingly, and was on the contrary 
too fond of refined society to enjoy that of the illiterate and vulgar. 
He lived so much with his superiors in rank and station that, she 
says, it gave him a distaste for the middle classes, who were not at 
that time so well educated as of later years. But he never slighted 
old companions and friends.' 

Point has been given to the story of Girtin's intemperance and 
dissipation by drawing a contrast with the career of Turner, 3 and 
a moral lesson has been derived from the allegation that Girtin 
shortened his days by a loose course of living, while Turner prolonged 
his life by better regulated habits. But such evidence as there is rather 
points to the conclusion that Girtin was temperate, married respect- 
ably, and died (of heart disease) universally beloved ; and that Turner, 
though he lived to be an old man, was not averse to low society, 
being himself unpolished and illiterate, and rather fond of tippling, 

1 ' My father was almost ascetically temperate, and his taste always inclined to the 
refined and elegant.' (Girtin's son, quoted by Thornbury in Life of Turner, second edition, 
p. 61.) 

2 Miss Hog to Mr. Jenkins. 

J See Hayes's account of Turner in his Professional Sketches. 

\ 2 



ii6 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. H 

and that he died in churlish seclusion, attended only by one of his 
mistresses, a woman of no cultivation, but the sole intimate friend he 
cared to have about him. 

'Generous and giddy' are the epithets more fairly applied by 
Peter Pindar (Dr. Wolcott) to his ' early acquaintance, Tom Girtin.' 
He was considered by all who knew him, to be a most delightful 
companion, and was generous and noble-minded even to a fault, 1 
' with little consciousness,' says Leslie, 2 ' of his own great merit.' 

John Pye, to whom it was always a strong recommendation to be a 
good man of business, writes of him that his principal failing was 
' great carelessness in money matters. When he had money he could 
not keep it if any one wanted it.' Mrs. Borrett said ' she one day 
heard a poor artist telling him a tale of misery, and Girtin, having no 
money at the time, gave him a beautiful drawing for which he had 
refused twenty guineas.' She and her husband ' always spoke of him 
as one of the kindest and best of men.' 3 

1 J. J. J. * Handbook for Young Painters, 266. Pye's MSS. 



CH. IV II? 



CHAPTER IV 

GIRTIN AND. TURNER AS CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS 

Girtin's relations Publication of the Paris views Fire at John Girtin's Chambers Hall 
and Mr. Jackson Gifts of Girtin drawings to the British Museum Turner and Girtin's 
prices Turner's 'Norham' Rival drawings Turner becomes R.A. Comparative 
estimates of art of Turner and Girtin- Their respective influence on the water-colour 
school Girtin's on Constable. 

GIRTIN, dying so young, left all his near relations as well as his 
contemporaries in art to survive him, some for many years. His 
widow, as his mother had done, married again. Her second husband's 
name was Cohen. Thomas Calvert Girtin, the only child of Thomas 
Girtin's brief marriage, became a surgeon. He resided at 48 Canonbury 
Square, Islington, and possessed a valuable collection of his father's 
drawings. In 1837 he edited a popular little work on human ana- 
tomy called ' The House we live in ' (founded on an American book 
of the same name by Dr. Alcott), which has run through many 
editions. He is mentioned as a 'warm lover of the drama, and an 
intense admirer ' of Samuel Phelps the actor, who when manager of 
Sadler's Wells Theatre, from 1844 to 1862, was his friend and 
neighbour in Canonbury Square, and to whom he filled the post of 
family doctor. 1 

The artist's brother, John the ' letter and heraldic engraver,' also 
survived him ; and after his death took up and published the Paris 
views, then almost complete. They came out in 1803. The work is 
entitled : A Selection of Twenty of the most Picturesque Views in 
Paris and its Environs, 'drawn and etched in the year 1802 by the 
late Thomas Girtin, being the only etchings of that celebrated artist, 
and aquatinted in exact imitation of the original drawings, in the 
collection of the R l Hon ble the Earl of Essex.' The finished plates 
bear imprints with dates from 16 Dec. 1802 to 4 April 1803. But 
the etchings are variously dated from 16 June to 4 October 1802, 
1 Life of Samuel Pkelps, by W. M. Phelps and Forbes Robertson (1886), p. 9. 



u8 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. II 

some at ' Islington,' and one at least (4 Aug.) has the imprint ' Drawn 
etched and Pub d by T. Girtin, Scott's Place, Islington.' It has been 
observed that in the lengthening intervals between the dates one 
may trace the rapid failing of power to work, in the dying artist. 1 

The aquatint engravers employed to put in the light and shade 
from the impressions tinted by him were J. C. Lewis, J. B. Harraden, 
W. Pickett, and J. C. Stadler, the greater number being by J. C. Lewis, 
who five or six years afterwards engraved in a similar style for Turner 
the first plate of the Liber Studiorum. John Girtin published the Paris 
views at his house in Little Newport Street. 2 On ' May 16, 1817,' we 
find the name and address, ' J. Girtin, Engraver, Printer &c. at No. 25 
Old Compton Street, 3 doors from Prince's Street, Soho,' in the imprint 
of a mezzotint portrait, by S. W. Reynolds after Opie, of ' the late ex- 
traordinary artist,' Thomas Girtin. After dedicating this plate to ' Sir 
George Beaumont, Bart.' as ' one of the artist's earliest patrons,' the 
publisher adds : ' J. Girtin, in the recent fire in Broad Street, having 
lost all his property excepting some prints &c. which with this portrait 
of his late brother he respectfully offers to a liberal public.' In the 
stock thus destroyed by fire it is said that there were some of Thomas 
Girtin's finest works and many copies of the Paris views, which thus 
became scarce ; 3 and moreover that John Girtin's calamity was not 
confined to the loss of his house and goods, but that his invalid wife 
died in his arms as he carried her through the flames. 4 She was the 
daughter of a Mr. Jackson, a wealthy timber merchant, who seems to 
have been a queer sort of person. According to his own account, in 
conversations with Mr. Chambers Hall, who obtained from him some 
important Girtin drawings, he used to play the patron to his artist 
nephew-in-law, going about with him and supplying him with money, 
and promising him good dinners, on condition that he should first 
make his host a drawing. He showed Mr. Hall a view from the 
window of the Old Toy inn at Hampton Court, which he said he 

1 Miller and Thornbury. The dates they give are June 16, 18, 25, 28 ; July 6, 12, 16, 
19 ; August 4, 9, 17 ; September 2, 29 ; October 4. 

2 In 1805 the name of ' Mr. Girtin, New Street, Covent Garden,' appears in a list of 
subscribers to Dayes's works. If this be Thomas Girtin's brother, his subscription was a 
Christian act. Another neighbouring address, given as that of John Girtin, is ' Castle 
Street, Leicester Square.' See Thornbury's Life of Turner, 2nd edit. p. 7- The title to 
Ackermann's Repository, vol. i. (June 1809) has on it, ' Girtin scr 1 .' 

3 A copy was sold in Paris Vente Danlos in December 1880 for 321 francs (about 
I 3 /. ^. (,d.). 

* Library of the Fine Arts, iii. 318. 



CH. IV GIRTIN AND TURNER AS CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS 119 

obtained in this manner. Mr. Hall was under the mistaken impres- 
sion that this Mr. Jackson was the father, not of Mrs. John, but of 
Mrs. Tom, Girtin ; and cited his authority for some stories, not, as he 
made it appear, to his supposed son-in-law's credit ; alleging (among 
other things) that his was a runaway marriage, which has been 
sufficiently proved above, not to have been so in the artist's case. 
Possibly he was speaking of John Girtin. 

Mr. Hall gave the following account of the manner in which he ac- 
quired some of Jackson's stock of Girtin drawings. Having received 
no answer to a letter which he had written from Southampton to ask 
the possessor whether he intended to part with any of them, and coming 
to town about six months after, the intending collector called at Mr. 
Jackson's. There was a fine carriage at the door, and high words were 
heard within the house. Mr. Hall knocked. Mr. Jackson was ' not at 
home.' But he presented himself immediately, saying, ' Yes, I am at 
home. 1 A gentleman who had been with him then entered the carriage 
and drove away. ' 1 am at home to you,' says Jackson, ' because I 
used you ill in not replying to your letter. If it had not been for that, 
I should not have seen you. Do you know who that was who has just 
left ? No ? It was the Earl of Essex, who wants my drawings. But 
I won't part with them. He offended me. He would not take an 
answer, and so I quarrelled with him and we have been at high words 
about it.' Mr. Hall, as he was not to be received as a purchaser, 
begged to be allowed at least to look round the room where the 
drawings hung. Mr. Jackson pressed him to stay and dine. He did 
so, and the two struck up an acquaintance, cemented by a second 
dinner, by special invitation, ' to meet Captain * * .' After this, 
Mr. Jackson's affairs became straitened by divers proceedings at law. 
When two simultaneous Chancery suits had combined to drain the 
exchequer, Mr. Hall thought the occasion had come for making a 
fresh attempt. So he ventured to hint that he should be glad to 
have a drawing or two. To his surprise, Jackson told him that lie 
might have whichever he liked. Mr. Hall at once pointed out about 
five, and, taking them out of their frames, carried them off in triumph. 
He afterwards acquired more from the same source; and in 1855 
presented to the British Museum the collection so made. In 1878 a 
rich addition was made to the store of Girtin's drawings there, by the 
bequest by Mr. Henderson of those formerly belonging to his father, 
Girtin and Turner's old patron, of Adelphi Terrace. 



120 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. n 

Memoranda preserved by Pye, of what Chambers Hall told him, 
afford some evidence of the prices charged both by Girtin and 
Turner for drawings, during their joint life. Mr. Hall used to say 
that for drawings of the largest size their prices were the same ; and 
he described a fine one of Girtin's (27 by 19 inches in size) represent- 
ing 'the ruined church of Jedburgh, seen in its full length, the river, 
in which the building was reflected, flowing between it and the 
spectator,' and ' near the front, standing in shallow water, and on a 
sand-bank, female figures washing linen,' for which Mr. Thomas 
Worthington (above mentioned) paid the artist his highest price, 
namely six guineas. 1 As this was exhibited at the Royal Academy 
in 1797, in which year Turner made a celebrated drawing of the same 
class, for which he charged eight guineas, Pye assumes that it must 
have been made, as that was, the year before it was exhibited that 
is to say, in 1796 each painter thus raising his price by two guineas 
from one year to the next. 

Girtin's works must have become more highly esteemed before 
he died, 2 for, in addition to his mother-in-law's story of his refusing 
twenty guineas for one, and then giving it to a beggar, the following 
letter from the Earl of Harewood, dated Harewood House, 27 July, 
1801, names the same amount: ' I hope you have made the altera- 
tions in the Drawings of this place which I wish'd you to do, and 
that you have returned them to the house in Hanover Square. I 
think you said they were to be 20 guineas each. If you will call on 
Mr. Nelson, Merc*, at No. I Hylord's Court, Crutched Friars, he will 
pay you on producing this letter 84 pounds. The frame-maker's 
bill I will pay when I go to town.' 

The drawing of Turner's to which reference is above made was 
exhibited at Somerset House in 1798, and its exhibition constituted 
an epoch in that painter's career. Its title was, l Nor/tain Castle, on 
the Tweed Summer's Morn,' to which the following lines from 
Thomson's Seasons were added in the catalogue : 

But yonder comes the powerful King of Day, 
Rejoicing in the East ; the lessening cloud, 
The kindling azure, and the mountain's brow 
Illumin'd his near approach betoken glad. 

1 Mr. Worthington made a copy of it, which he piesented to Mr. Hall. 

2 The highest prices for drawings by Girtin, recorded in Mr. Kedford's Art Salt's, are 
i63/. l6s. for 'Lichfield Cathedral,' in ' Charles Vine' sale, 1873; and l6l/. 14*. for 'The 
Kiver Exe ' in ' Bale ' sale, 1881. All others are under ioo/. 



CH. IV GIRTIN AND TURNER AS CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS 121 

Pye relates ' that ' a few years before Turner's decease ' the 
painter 'was walking with a friend' 2 on the bank of the Tweed, 
when, Norham Castle within view, Turner stopt and bowed in 
obeisance.' On his companion's inquiring why he did so, he answered, 
' Well I may ! It was my drawing of Norham Castle that brought 
me into public notice.' Perhaps for this reason the subject was one 
for which he had ever a marked affection. He drew it several times 
with varying treatment. It was etched by him in the Liber Studiorum 
in 1816, and mezzotinted there, and in the Rivers of England \i\ 1824 
by Charles Turner. Heath engraved it singly in 1827, and Miller 
in Scott's Prose Works in 1 834. 

The following account is given by Pye 3 of the origin of this first 
of the Norham drawings: 'In 1797, when Turner was 22 years of 
age, Mr. Blake, of Portland Place, commissioned him to make a 
drawing at the price of 8 guineas, which was [the price for] the 
largest size then made, whether by Girtin or Turner. The subject 
of the work was left to Turner's choice, who adapted to his purpose 
Norham Castle. When Mr. Blake was shown the work, and had 
been told by Turner that it was made expressly for him, he was loud 
in expressions of pleasure at having become the proprietor of so 
beautiful a work. "But," said Turner, "I have been offered 12 
guineas for it." Mr. Blake having objected to paying for it more 
than the sum agreed upon, and also to preventing Turner being the 
recipient of the larger sum, the work never came into Mr. Blake's 
possession.' In the following year 1798 the drawing' Norham Castle' 
appeared in the Royal Academy exhibition. ' Many years after- 
wards the public were reminded of the work by an engraving of 
Norham Castle in the Liber Studiorum, on the lower margin of which 
is the following inscription : " The Drawing in the possession of the 
late Lord Lascells." ' Lascelles is the family name of the Earls of 
Harevvood. In 1858 the drawing (27 by 19 inches) was at Harewood 
House, Grosvenor Square, whence it was removed to Christie and 
Manson's, and there sold on May the 1st, under the name ' A Castle 
on a height above a river in which cows are standing,' to the late 
Mr. John Dillon at the price of log/. 4-?. At the sale there of that 
gentleman's collection in 1869, it was purchased by Agnew for 500 
guineas. In 1887 it was the property of Daniel Thwaites, Esq., and 

1 MSS. 

1 Said to have been Cadell, the publisher. See Rawlinson's Notes on Collection of Draw- 
ings by Turner at R.A. 1887, p. 9. MSS. 



122 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. II 

lent by him to the Turner loan collection at the Royal Academy, 
where its place was duly marked in the chronological sequence of 
the painter's drawings. The descriptions under which Turner entered 
his Norham drawing and his other landscapes in 1798 afford a note- 
worthy contrast to those of previous years. Now and in future they are 
accompanied by verses of descriptive poetry, and an indication of the 
condition of light or weather under which the subject is intended to be 
represented. A visit to the northern counties pppears then to have 
wrought in Turner an enlargement of feeling in the presence of 
grander and more impressive natural scenery similar to that which 
inspired the soul and guided the hand of Girtin. 

In 1799 a sunset view of Caernarvon Castle by Turner, and a 
view of mountainous scenery near Beddgelert by Girtin, were two 
rival drawings at the Academy exhibition, which, unlike in subject 
and effect, are said to have attracted equal attention. 1 But Turner, 
as before said, was seeking for glory through his pictures in oil. He 
had become an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1800; and in 
1802, the year of Girtin's death, he blossomed forth into a full 
Academician, and instead of remaining as before plain ' W. Turner,' 
he wrote his name at length, as he had been christened (at St. Paul's 
Church, near the site of Girtin's grave), 'Joseph Mallord William 
Turner, R.A.' Up to this time, though he had already launched out 
into poetic themes, such as the two ' Plagues of Egypt,' he had for 
the most part worked in the same field of nature with Tom Girtin. 
Both were abroad for the first time in 1802, and it is by the con- 
sideration of what they had done when painters of no experience 
beyond the scenery of their native land that comparative justice can 
best be done to their respective merits as artists. 

' The impression derived," says Mr. Jenkins, ' from a comparison 
of Turner and Girtin at this period, 1800-1802, is that Turner was 
the more careful and painstaking, Girtin the more vigorous and 
stronger in colour.' ' The breadth of Turner,' says Pye, ' is greater 
than that of Girtin. Energy of individuality in Girtin is generally 
greater than breadth.' William Havell said that both Turner and 
Girtin were ' great experimentalists in rendering paper and water- 
colours subservient to the expression of light, which they found to 
be chiefly dependent on gradation.' 2 

1 William Havell to Pye. 

'' ' In such matters,' he said, ' there was no trick that they were not up to. Turner used 



CH. IV GIRTIN AND TURNER AS CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS 123 

' In Turner,' adds Pye, ' gradation was the governing power. 
In Girtin, gradation had its influence, but the parts were the 
governing power. Turner's gradation commenced from the marginal 
line of the foreground of his work. In Girtin's works it did not 
begin till half-way to the horizon ; consequently it was not so com- 
plete as Turner's.' But he adds, ' The composition of forms and 
natural laws of light applied to the production of artificial light 
in a drawing, or of chiaroscuro apart from and in connection with 
local colours, were matters with which Turner was not more con- 
versant than Girtin.' ' Sobered tints of exquisite truth, and broad 
chiaroscuro, are,' says Leslie, 1 ' the prevailing characteristics of Girtin.' 

Pye regarded the English school of Landscape art which was 
founded by Girtin and Turner as one ' based upon a practical know- 
ledge of chiaroscuro,' the study of which had been little attended 
to by continental artists. Havell, no mean authority, gave to Turner 
the credit of being ' the first of the water-colour draftsmen who 
aimed at making the eye of the spectator look into the subject of 
the drawing beyond the surface of the paper on which it was 
executed, and through it into immeasurable space.' The earlier 
drawings of Paul Sandby and the school before Cozens he called 
' unmeaning muddle,' declaring that ' in them the eye always rested 
on objects individually.' But it was to Turner and Girtin alike that 
he attributed the merit of ' introducing fine art into landscape 
drawing, as Gainsborough had done in a less degree into paint- 
ing.' 

During the joint lives of Girtin and Turner these two artists may 
be regarded as joint representatives of the new school of water- 
colour painting of which they were the joint founders. But their 
influence upon that school in its further development was very 
different. Turner had few, if any, direct followers. His transcendent 
power was acknowledged by all artists, and the greatest deference 
was paid to his judgment when he chose to give it ; but the ' sincerest 
flattery ' of imitation he never received. Girtin, on the contrary, had 
hosts of followers even in his lifetime, and it is he who must be 
looked upon as the real father of the group of painters of which the 

to cut out figures in paper and paste them on his drawing. If his experiments spoiled one 
part of a drawing, he would paste the good part upon another piece of paper, rub down the 
edges of it, and work on the new surface till he brought the whole into harmony. He and 
Girtin would also seek to create gradation by pumping water upon their drawings." 
' Handbook for Young Painters, 265. 



124 LIFE AND TIMES OF THOMAS GIRTIN BK. II 

earlier and leading members of the Water-Colour Society were the 
foremost representatives. 

From the time of Girtin's death the school may be considered 
as dividing itself into two branches, or more properly as two separate 
trees, springing indeed from the same soil, and having grown together 
as saplings, but with separate roots, one in the practice of Turner, 
the other in that of Girtin. The former developed into a single 
giant growth, majestic and solitary, crowning the forest ; while in the 
latter case a seedling group of rising painters sprang up around a 
stricken stump, and became the school of water colours that flourished 
in Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century. 

Nor was Girtin's influence quite confined to practitioners in that 
material. Leslie tell us in his Memoirs of Constable ' that the whole 
course of that painter's practice was affected by the contemplation 
of about thirty works by Girtin which Sir George Beaumont recom- 
mended him to study as examples of breadth and truth. 

1 Chapter I., p. 6. 



BOOK III 

THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY 



CHAPTER I 

EXHIBITORS' GRIEVANCES WELLS AND SHELLEY 

Resuml of development Water-colour art little known to general public Exhibitions since 
1760 Absorbed in Royal Academy Water-colours ill seen there Their painters ex- 
cluded from academic honours An independent exhibition proposed W. F. Wells 
Birth and education Works at the Royal Academy Published works Connection wilh 
Turner Circular to draftsmen Samuel Shelley Birth Miniaturesat the Royal Academy 
Copies from Reynolds Changes of address Paints portraits and 'history in small.' 

' WHETHER Turner or Girtin, if either, is entitled to be called the 
originator of the natural method of water-colour painting, which 
gives their due value to the local hues of objects under various 
influences of light, is an inquiry which has but slight bearing on their 
relative positions as artists. Its interest in the history of this art is 
of the same kind as that prolific, but not very profitable, subject of 
discussion, the claims of the Van Eycks to the invention of oil- 
painting.' ' But, to whomsoever due, it was a change of process 
which led to an assimilation of effect and finally to a rivalry in force 
between water-colour and oil. A full competition between the two 
branches of art had not yet been rendered possible ; but the former 
had now assumed a new rank and position. It was no longer 
' drawing ' but ' painting ' in water-colours. 

The old method still continued to be practised by some artists, 
particularly as the commencement of a picture. And it has its 
undoubted advantages. Pyne 2 admits that those who work by this 
process ' can execute their tinted designs with ten times the despatch 
of those who paint their compositions.' Still he holds that ' however 
bright the effects which they may bring out by washing their colours 
1 The Spectator, 14 August, 1875. * Somerset House Gazette, i. 193. 



126 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

over a general and unvaried preparation of black and grey,' they are 
properly denominated draftsmen or tinters ; ' not by way of reproach, 
but from the mechanical ease of their practice.' For the purposes to 
which it was applied by the old topographers, the tinted manner was 
still, and for such purposes it in many respects remains to this day, 
the best that could be employed. Except in providing the sensuous 
delight of rich and varied colouring, and in effecting a close imitation 
of details not essential to the story, there is ample scope in this 
manner of drawing for an artistic portrayal of such subjects as have 
usually to be dealt with by the topographic draftsman. In architectural 
drawing, the union of line and wash is almost indispensable, and there 
is no method which enables the sketcher to carry away more quickly 
so complete a memorandum of so many material facts. In the hands 
of some of the artists who followed Sandby, it was moreover shown to 
be capable of being made the vehicle of great beauty of sentiment 
and delicacy of expression. 

But the purposes to which water-colours had now to be applied 
belong to a different category from their old uses. Water-colour 
artists had hitherto, as we have seen, looked to several special kinds 
of employment as their means of subsistence. Landscape draftsmen 
had begun by supplying drawings to the publishers of prints to 
illustrate British topography. This practice led in time to their 
engagement by travellers abroad, first to record the scenes in strange 
lands laid open to view in voyages of discovery ; and then, as artist 
companions to persons of wealth and position. Relations sprang up 
between artists and amateurs which conferred mutual benefits upon 
both. The art of the former gained in refinement through the 
appreciation of its higher qualities by a more cultured taste, and the 
latter acquired practical knowledge enabling them the better to 
record, and at the same time the more accurately to observe, the 
beauties of nature. Thus arose a further important source of 
emolument to this class of artists as professional teachers of drawing. 

Besides these occupations, which in general constituted the per- 
manent and more regular means of living, water-colour drawings, or 
' paintings ' as they were now entitled to be called, had come to be 
regarded as desiderata by collectors to stock their portfolios with, if 
not as yet to hang in heavy frames upon their drawing-room walls. 
The prices of these works, valued for their own sakes as objects of 
beauty and interest, not, as in earlier times, for the sake of their 



CH. I EXHIBITORS' GRIEVANCES WELLS AND SHELLEY 127 

subjects only, or for their capacity to secure a profit by reproduction 
as engravings, were rising year by year. 

Hitherto the sale of such drawings had been chiefly promoted by 
this private form of patronage. They were either executed on com- 
mission, or mainly sought for by connoisseurs and a special class of 
collectors. Among the general public, the excellence of the new 
branch of art was little known, and the demand was proportionately 
small for paintings in water-colour. The reason was that they had 
not as yet been duly seen. There was in their case no adequate 
provision for public display, no sufficient market for open sale. 
Dealers no doubt existed who knew the wants, perhaps the weak- 
nesses, of their customers. But their fraternity had not yet risen to 
be arbiters of taste to millionnaires who lacked it, or to hold in their 
hands the power of making a struggling artist rich or poor. 

No doubt also there were the exhibitions. Since the opening of 
the first, in the rooms of the Society of Arts in 1760, until near the 
end of the century, there had been, annually, either one or two or 
three exhibitions of the latest works of living artists in England. 
Till the year 1768, when the Royal Academy was founded, there 
were the two rival bodies, the Society of Artists (incorporated by 
royal charter in 1765), and the Free Society (enrolled in the Court of 
King's Bench in 1763), each of which had its annual show, the former 
at Spring Gardens, the latter at several different places in succes- 
sion, first at the Society of Arts, then in Maiden Lane, Covent 
Garden, and afterwards at the bottom of the Haymarket. In both 
of these, ' water-colours ' (i.e. distemper drawings) and stained or 
tinted drawings had been exhibited. The Incorporated Society had 
comprised the artists of greater distinction, but these were drawn off 
into the ranks of the new Academy, which from the time of its first 
exhibition, in 1769, had provided the principal, and whose galleries 
at Somerset House were, at the time now under consideration, the 
only regular public show-rooms of ' the year's art.' Its attractions 
had at the outset distanced those of the rival exhibitions. 

The Incorporated Society, shorn of its leading members, con- 
tinued its annual shows at Spring Gardens till 1773, when it appeared 
in new quarters, which it had built for itself in the Strand ; that is to 
say, in a great room afterwards called the Lyceum, at Exeter Change, 1 

1 Exeter Change, between Wellington Street and Burleigh Street, on the site of the 
Lyceum Theatre, was taken down in 1829. (Hutton's Literary Landmarks in Lomion.} 



128 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY UK ill 

where the Lyceum Theatre now stands. But this speculation was 
fatal to the society. It had to sell the building in order to pay for 
its erection, and afterwards maintained no more than a spasmodic 
existence ; which in 1791 came to an end, where it began, at Spring 
Gardens, after longer and longer intervals of suspended animation. 

The Free Society, though always a much smaller concern, lingered 
to a later date, holding annual exhibitions, which latterly attracted 
no notice, till 1799. 'After the establishment of the Royal Academy, 
not a single artist joined the society.' But it also had a great room 
built for it, by Mr. Christie, next to Cumberland House, Pall Mall ; 
and here it is presumed its exhibitions were held from 1769, or 
earlier, until 1775, when it moved to St. Alban's Street, Pall Mall, and 
was lost in obscurity. 1 

What had virtually been the case for many years past, was the 
actual state of things now ; that is to say, at the time of Girtin's 
death, and Turner's reception into the higher rank of the Academy, 
in 1802. It was only to Somerset House, 'The Exhibition' 2 as it 
was called, par excellence, that the water-colour artist who was not 
content to depend on private patronage only, or on the favour of 
dealers, could go to exhibit his wares. Here, however, partly from 
their own nature, partly from the arrangements of the galleries, they 
were exposed to an unequal competition, which they were ill able to 
bear. To some extent, indeed, the water-colour drawings were sepa- 
rated from the oil-pictures. But the distinction made between their 
was one which placed the former not only in a different, but in - 
lower, category. 

The rooms at Somerset House, occupied since 1780 by the Royal 
Academy for their exhibition galleries, consisted of the following, 
situated in the right wing, in the Strand. On the ground floor was 
the Sculpture Room. On the first floor were the Library (a small 
room), and the Antique Academy, leading to the Lecture Room, 
described as 'spacious, elegant, and well-proportioned.' On the second 
floor were the '^4#/z'-Room' (so always spelt), a small apartment re- 
ceiving its light from an arched window above the entrance ; and the 

1 See Pye's Patronage of British Art, 286. 

z As one speaks of ' The Bible ' in contradistinction to all other f)tf)\la, the Royal 
Academy exhibition was long known in London society as ' The Exhibition.' In 1851 the 
title got transferred to the 'World's Show,' which took place in that year in Hyde Park. 
The name was afterwards reserved for its international successors at South Kensington, but 
has now lost its special meaning. 



CH. I EXHIBITORS' GRIEVANCES WELLS AND SHELLEY 129 

Grand Exhibition Room, which, measuring about 60 by 50 feet, was 
described as ' noble and spacious ' and ' judiciously lighted by four 
arched windows ' distributing ' an equal light over the whole.' ' One 
of the rooms used for the exhibition is called the ' Council Room ' 
in some of the catalogues. It is believed to have been appropriated 
to that use at a later period. 

With the exception of miniatures during the first few years, water- 
colour pictures were never placed in the great room. 2 That this 
exclusion was not made in order to give their merits a better chance 
of recognition, is suggested by the fact that in the rooms to which 
they were admitted they were 'not only hung,' says Pyne, ' amidst 
pictures in oil, but were generally surrounded by such inferior per- 
formances as were not deemed worthy of a place in the principal 
apartment. These were usually subjects ill conceived, badly drawn, 
and worse coloured garish and staring in effect, and commonly so 
entirely at variance with harmony, as not only to excite disgust in 
the spectator, but by the violence of their opposition, to do manifest 
injury to the chaste and unobtrusive works in water-colours. These 
disadvantages were not all ; the light in the apartments appropriated 
to the water-colour department was ill calculated to display the 
merits of such delicate and high-finished works ; being admitted 
through common sashes, and frequently glaring on the subjects on 
one side of the room, whilst those on the other side were exhibited 
on the piers and spaces between the windows, with the light from 
behind. Hence, many works of great merit appeared not as pictures, 
but merely as so many pier-glasses. Moreover, the crowded state of 
these apartments frequently interrupted the light from falling on the 
pictures that happened to be hung within five or six feet of the floor. 
Had the same works been exhibited in the upper story, where the 
light was admitted from above, this latter inconvenience would have 
been obviated, as the angle of light would have fallen [sic] uninter- 
ruptedly upon all sides of the apartment alike.' 3 Even had the 
separation been fairly complete, the merits of the water-colours would 
still have been ' eclipsed to the public eye ' by the contrast afforded 
tin passing from ' large and splendid performances executed in oil, 
under the influence of that imposing transparency and splendour 

1 Gentleman's Magazine, 1780, p. 220. 

2 Leslie, in a letter to Pye (22 December, 1857) respecting Turner's paintings 
* Somerset House Gazette, i. 1 30. 

K 



130 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. ill 

which varnish superadds to pictures so painted/ to the adjacent apart- 
ments appointed for the exhibition of ' works of their chaste and 
unassuming character.' 1 But 'the limited space then at the disposal 
of the Royal Academy could not be enlarged, and the water-colour 
painters consequently saw no prospect of exhibiting their works in a 
way to do them justice.' 

They had another and serious ground of complaint in the 
existence of 'a law of the Royal Academy which excluded from 
Academic honours those artists who wrought in water-colours only. 
The painters in water-colours urged with reason that professional 
rank ought not to depend upon the vehicle used, but upon the merits 
of the works in whatever materials executed that if the use of oil- 
colours had its special advantage, so had water-colours, the practice 
of which had become greatly developed ; and that it behoved those 
who followed exclusively this branch of painting to endeavour to show 
that the slight which the rule of the Royal Academy appeared to cast 
upon it was unmerited ; and they pointed to the genius of Turner 
and of Girtin and other artists of eminence, whose practice had 
superseded the early stained and tinted manner of their predecessors ' 
of the time when the Academy had been founded ' and had contributed 
to raise water-colour art to the dignity of painting.' 2 

Moreover, those Academicians who painted in water-colour as 
well as in oil acquired privileges when once elected (on the strength 
of their oil-pictures) which enabled them to place their compeers in 
the lower branch of art at a further disadvantage. ' Though the 
splendid works of Turner, of Westall, &c.,' says Robert Hills, ' were 
conspicuously placed, the greater part of the water-colour paintings 
were hung,' as above stated, amidst oil-paintings, between windows 
and under windows, sometimes in the darkened room with the sculp- 
ture, where if they had merit it could not have been seen.' It has 
even been said that ' the exhibitions of the Royal Academy were so 
crowded with the products of amateurs, that the pictures of profes- 
sional painters could not obtain that prominence they deserved.' 3 

Under these circumstances, 4 it occurred to certain of the painters 
in water-colours, that it would be desirable to establish an indepcn- 

1 Somerset House Gazette, i. 130. * J. J. J. MSS. 

* Art Journal, I July, 1850, p. 2l6. 

' It is not true ' (as had been alleged), says Hills in some manuscript notes in the Society's 
possession, ' that the thought of establishing the Water-Colour Society originated in the 
fascination of the water colour drawings of Turner in the Council Room at Somerset House ; 



CH. I EXHIBITORS' GRIEVANCES-WELLS AND SHELLEY 131 

dent exhibition, wherein their works could be displayed to more 
advantage. The idea is said to have first suggested itself to a land- 
scape painter of recognized ability, if of no great distinction, named 
Wells, who in his time enjoyed extensive practice as a teacher of 
drawing. 

WILLIAM FREDERICK WELLS was born in 1762 in London, 
where as a boy of twelve he is said to have learnt from Barralet ' 
to draw in pencil and crayon. As a practitioner in art, his name 
first occurs in the catalogue of the Royal Academy for 1795 with two 
views in Scotland, after which date he had sent there from four to 
eight drawings annually, mostly subjects from Wales. Possibly he was 
the author of a ' Treatise on Anatomy, and Proportions of the Human 
Figure, adapted to the arts of Designing, Painting, and Sculpture, 
illustrated with copper-plates, designed principally for the informa- 
tion of such Ladies as practise the above arts, &c.,' published in 1796. 
Certainly he had a share in the production of a set of seventy-two 
soft-ground etchings, in imitation of chalk drawings, which, gathered 
into a folio volume in 1819, bear the title, 'A Collection of Prints, 
illustrative of English Scenery, from the Drawings and Sketches of 
Tlios. Gainsborough, R.A., in the various collections of the R' 
Hon. Baroness Lucas ; Viscount Palmerston ; George Hibbert, Esq. ; 
Dr. Monro ; and several other Gentlemen. 2 Engraved and Published 
by W. F. Wells and J. Laporte. J. Smeeton, Printer, 148 St. Martin's 

but from drawings ' of others being ' badly placed, and mixed with oil ; from the Law casting 
a stigma on water-colour painters ; and from the desire to establish a mart for sale of the 
labour of years, and, of a surplus after expenses to the successful, by a dividend.' The 
allegation thus traversed by Hills is contained in the following passage in a short biography 
of Robson the water-colour painter, written in 1833, by Thomas Uwins, afterwards R.A. 
'The writer is old enough,' he says, ' to recollect the time when the council-room of the 
Royal Academy was devoted to the exhibition of paintings in water-colours. Here were to 
be seen the rich and masterly sketches of Hamilton, the fascinating compositions of Westall, 
the beautiful landscapes of Girtin, Callcott, and Reinagle, and the splendid creations of 
Turner the mightiest enchanter who has ever wielded the magic power of art in any age or 
country. At this time the council-room, instead of being what the present arrangement 
makes it, a place of retirement from the bustle of the other departments, was itself the great 
point of attraction. Here crowds first collected, and here they lingered longest, because it 
was here the imagination was addressed through the means of an art which added the charm 
of novelty to excellence. It was the fascination of this room that first led to the idea of 
forming an exhibition entirely of pictures in water-colours." (See Memoirs of Thomas 
Uwins, R.A., by Mrs. Uwins, i. 30, 31.) 

1 Redgrave's Dictionary. Probably J. Melchior Barralet, who taught both figure and 
landscape. ^ 

2 Other owners are 'Mr. Alexander' and 'J. Laporte.' 

K 2 



132 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. HI 

Lane.' Some of the plates are tinted in colours, and in some there 
are monochrome shadows, put in by hand with a brush. The dates 
upon them are from I January, 1802, to I January, 1805. Each artist 
did half the number. Laporte's are drawn with greater freedom of 
hand than Wells's. 

Wells, as we see, was about thirteen years older than Turner and 
Girtin. Of the former painter he was a lifelong friend, and is said to 
have shown a fatherly kindness towards him. Turner was about 
seventeen years of age (that is to say, it was about the year 1792) 
when he was introduced to Wells by Robert Ker Porter. The 
intimacy so commenced will be ever memorable from the circum- 
stance of Wells's having happily suggested to the great painter the 
first idea of his Liber Studiorum, and induced him to commence 
that work, the four earliest drawings for which (executed in sepia) 
were made at Wells's house at Knockholt in Kent. There is an 
earlier, and also interesting, association between his and Turner's 
careers. He went to school in the very house in Queen Anne Street 
which, afterwards added to by Turner, was occupied by that artist 
for so many years as a studio and gallery, and where the great 
painter's hoard of pictures and piles of prints were found stored up 
and rotting after his death in 1851. The schoolmaster was a Mr. 
Harper ; but the fact that Turner had an aunt of the name of 
Harpur (his mother's elder sister, wife of the curate of Islington, who 
was grandfather of Mr. Henry Harpur, one of the painter's executors) 
may be no more than a coincidence. Turner, on his side, is known 
to have exhibited marked emotion on hearing of Wells's death in 
1836.' 

It was in the first or second year of the present century that 
Wells ' endeavoured to stimulate some of his friends, practitioners ' 
of water-colour art, to form a society for the purpose of establishing 
an independent exhibition of their paintings. ' He wrote,' says his 
daughter, 2 ' a very excellent letter, which was printed and sent to 

1 He told Wells's daughter, Mrs. Wheeler, that he thought he should have died if he 
had not been relieved by a violent hemorrhage at the nose. Turner, by his will, left a 
legacy of loo/, to each of Wells's three daughters. A story related by Mr. Ruskin, in his 
Lectures on Architecture and Painting, that Turner lent large sums to Wells's widow, and 
refused repayment, saying, ' Keep it and send your children to school and to church,' is 
contradicted by a correspondent in the Athenizum, 10 June, 1854, as quite inconsistent with 
Wells's known condition and circumstances of life. 

2 A Sketch of the or ginal Foundation of the old Waier-Colour Society, privately printed, 
by Clara Wheeler, 7 pages, 8vo, 1871. 



CH. I EXHIBITORS' GRIEVANCES WELLS AND SHELLEY 133 

all the principal draftsmen in the profession, to urge the necessity 
of a movement in that direction.' No copy of this letter is known 

to exist, but its motto 

Our doubts are traitors, 
And make us lose the good we oft might win 
By fearing to attempt l 

seems to have referred to a timid apprehension, which existed in the 
outer ranks of the profession, of offending the members of the 
Royal Academy. It was Wells's endeavour to overcome this feeling, 
by contending that the desire for a separate exhibition was not 
prompted by a spirit of antagonism or rivalry. He also sent many 
anonymous letters, written by the same daughter (Clara, afterwards 
Mrs. Wheeler), who acted as his private secretary. 

A fair share, however, of the merit of conceiving, as well as calling 
into existence, the first society for the exclusive exhibition of water- 
colour art, should be apportioned to an older painter, Samuel Shelley, 
who was Wells's first coadjutor in the scheme. Each had urged its 
practicability in separate conversations with a common friend, who 
thereupon introduced them to one another, and they then proceeded 
to discuss the matter together. 

SAMUEL SHELLEY, a quarter of a century older than Turner and 
Girtin, and twelve years senior to Wells (for he was born in 1750), 
could not be considered as one of the rising school that had effected 
such changes in water-colour art. He was in age one of the earlier 
generation, but he represented a class of painting in that medium 
which, in its way, suffered nearly as much by the Academy arrange- 
ments as did the water-colour landscapes. He was a figure-painter, 
chiefly celebrated for his miniatures. But his practice was not con- 
fined to the making of likenesses in little. In truth, he had not much 
cause to complain, of his treatment as a portrait-painter. The 
painting of miniatures, being an old-established branch of British art, 
of well-recognized importance long before the Academy came into 
existence, had not been unfavourably dealt with in the arrangements 
at Somerset House. These charming little effigies, grouped together, 
set in a better light, rendered attractive by their own delicate 
brilliancy, as well as by their subjects, and having, as everyone knew, 
to be judged on close inspection, could not have suffered as much 

1 Measure for Meamn, act i. , sc. 5. 



134 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

as the water-colour landscapes by proximity to large and showy 
pictures in oil. 

From a small beginning and an obscure origin, Samuel Shelley 
had risen to a place in the front rank of the miniature-painters of his 
day, at a period of great excellence in that branch of art, having for 
some ten or twelve years past shared the leading practice therein 
with the gay and eccentric favourite of society, Richard Cosway, R.A., 
and the King's limner in small, Richard Collins. 

Dayes tells us that Shelley was born in Whitechapel, and was in 
some measure self-educated, but that he founded his style on the 
works of Reynolds, which he copied early in life to his great ad- 
vantage. In 1773 we find him living 'at Mr. Shelley's,' probably 
his father's, in ' High Street, Whitechapel,' and beginning to exhibit 
at the Incorporated Society's with some fancy heads in miniature. By 
the next year he seems to have already made a good professional 
connection, for he appears at the Royal Academy with portraits of 
' a clergyman ' and ' a nobleman's three sons ' whose, we know not, 
for it was not then the custom to insert the names of sitters in the 
general catalogue, 1 though a key containing them was published and 
sold separately. In 1775 he had a few portraits at the Exeter 
Change gallery, but after this he confined himself to the Somerset 
House exhibitions. In 1778 he makes a first move westward. 
Leaving Whitechapel, where he had still hailed from ' Mr. Shelley's ' 
(or ' Shelly's, 1 for the name is spelt both ways in the catalogues) at 
Nos. 92, 24, and 62 successively, he sets up for himself 2 'at Mr. 
Fentum's, No. 78 Salisbury Street, Strand.' Creeping on year by 
year through Litchfield Street, Soho, King Street, Covent Garden, 
No. 1 6, and Henrietta Street, ditto, Nos. 20, 29, and 7, at which last 
address he remains from 1784 to 1794, he finally settles in the 
aristocratic quarter in which we now find him, at No. 6 George 3 
Street, Hanover Square, where stands the church at which Mr. and 
Mrs. Tom Girtin were married, as many a prouder couple have been 
before and since. 

1 It was not until 1798 that names were given, and a charge (sixpence) was then first 
made for the catalogue. 

2 Possibly these are only business addresses, and do not indicate his actual places of 
residence. 

3 In this Georgian era it was sometimes called ' Great George Street.' It is not clear to 
which noun the adjective was meant to apply. 



CH. I EXHIBITORS' GRIEVANCES WELLS AND SHELLEY 135 

During this time he had been painting and exhibiting, not 
portraits only, but what Dayes describes as ' history in small,' which 
kind of practice that writer, who is naught if not censorious, regards 
as raising Shelley ' above the character of a mere miniature painter,' 
and placing him ' among the few who do not consider the profession 
in a mercenary point of view.' We have seen that his first venture 
in public was an ideal head. It is not, however, till 1780 that we 
find him again so exercising his fancy in a drawing of ' Maria, from 
Sterne.' ' Two years after, he becomes more ambitious, and paints 
the ' Witches saluting Macbeth.' 2 This seems to have had an 
encouraging success, for in 1783 he has as many fancy pieces as 
portraits ; and then he goes on yearly intermingling illustrations from 
poetic fiction with likenesses of living persons more or less distin- 
guished. Mr. Graves counts up 140 works in all exhibited by Shelley 
at the Royal Academy. 

It was chiefly in these subject pieces that Shelley encountered 
the damaging competition with oil-pictures of which Wells had 
complained ; and subjects painted by him on ivory of a large size 
had been accumulating in his studio. 3 Thus, in the agitation for a 
separate gallery, he could, as representing the figure element in 
water-colour painting, make common cause with that artist, who spoke 
for the landscape draftsmen. 

1 Another Sterne's Maria by a different hand hung near it in the exhibition. A Sterne's 
Maria, by Shelley, was sold at Christie's in February 1885 for 6/. 15^. 

* Of this subject, there is a miniature on ivory by him at the South Kensington 
Museum. 

3 R. Hills J. J. J. MSS. 



I 3 6 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 



CHAPTER II 

HILLS, PYNE, AND POCOCK 

Robert Hills Birth and education Works at Royal Academy Ardour in sketching 
Etchings begun Takes pupils Drawings W. H. Pyne Birth and education Pars's 
school Works at Royal Aacademy Etchings and illustrations Social qualities His- 
torian and narrator Instability of purpose Plan of proposed society Survey of pro- 
fession Nicholas Pocock Birth and parentage Commands Champion's vessels 
Sketches at sea Settles in London Early works Paints sea-fights Portrait by son. 

SHELLEY had two sympathetic friends in the profession, nearly 
twenty years younger than himself, who lived close by, and were 
probably greater sufferers than he. One was Robert Hills, painter, in 
water-colours, of animals and rustic scenes ; who lived but two doors 
off, at No. 8. The other was William Henry Pyne, already mentioned, 
and often quoted in these pages, a writer indeed to whom all historians 
of English water-colour art must be indebted for much of their informa- 
tion. He lived two doors further on, at No. 10.' In converse with 
these near neighbours, Shelley aired his grievances, and the three had 
many a chat together on the matter at their respective firesides. 

ROBERT HILLS was born in Islington on the 26th of June, 1769. 
Although thirty-four at the time now under consideration, he does 
not seem to have come much before the public yet as a water-colour 
painter of animals. He had exhibited at the Royal Academy a 
' Wood Scene with Gipsy Fortune-tellers,' in 1791, and a ' Landscape' 
in 1792, giving as his address, first ' Keppel Row,' then Alsop's 
Buildings, New Road. His name then disappears from the catalogues 
for seven years, turning up again in 1800, in ' Upper Grafton Street, 
Fitzroy Square,' as exhibitor of a first ' Cottage Scene, with Cattle. 1 
In 1 80 1, he has a view of the gate of St. Augustine's, Canterbury (a 
favourite subject that season), and he puts in the animals to two 
drawings by Pyne, namely a view in Greenwich Park, and a Wilt- 

1 R.A. Catalogue, 1801. Autograph letter, I November, 1802. By 1805 he had 
mo%-ed to 38 Argyll Street, not far off. 



CH. II HILLS, PYNE, AND POCOCK 137 

shire farmhouse with cattle. With these exceptions, we do not find 
his name as an exhibitor before the foundation of the Water-Colour 
Society. 

Some early instruction in drawing had been given him by the old 
teacher, John Gresse, before mentioned, who for many years gave 
lessons at Mrs. Broadbelt's school in Queen Square, Bloomsbury, 
where young Hills was probably a scholar. ' But it is certain that he 
soon found a wiser master in the force of his own inclination, which led 
him to the study of animal life in the forest, the farmyard, and the pas- 
ture, sketching with untiring zeal, deer, oxen, sheep and cattle, singly 
and in groups, in great variety, or in observing their habits under the 
varied influences of the seasons. His careful studies of the heads, 
horns and bones of the different species testify to the pains he took 
to master the distinctive features and exact structure of animal 
form.' ' 

He was in his way a keen deerstalker, but his sport consisted in 
recording, not in destroying, animal life. When out on such expedi- 
tions, and absorbed in an object of such keen interest to him, he 
would show the determination of his character. It is related that on 
one of these occasions ' he suddenly came upon a magnificent stag, of 
which he resolved, if possible, to secure a sketch. Like a sportsman 
sighting his game, he stealthily followed the track of the retreating 
animal deeper and deeper into the recesses of the forest, and only gave 
up the pursuit when evening was closing in, to realize the fact that he 
had not tasted food the whole day, and had many weary miles to 
retrace before he could procure any refreshment.' l 

Although so little of Hills's work had appeared on the exhibition 
walls, he had already justified his later reputation by giving to the 
world, as the result of his out-of-door studies of animal life, the 
first instalments of a remarkably fine series of etchings, which, issued 
in parts, had commenced in 1798, and were now in course of publica- 
tion. It is probable also that he had become engaged in tuition, 
which was afterwards to him, as to so many of our best water-colour 
painters, a regular source of emolument. 

Hills's pencil studies and sketches of animals and rustic scenes 
are of extreme beauty. There can be no better models of practice in 
the handling of his material as a means of expression. The late Mr. 
George Smith, of Hamilton Terrace, had a large collection of them. 

1 J. J. J. MS. 



138 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY UK. in 

There are a few at the British Museum, some dated 1801 and 
1802. 

WILLIAM HENRY PYNE was born in the same year (1769) as 
Robert Hills. According to Redgrave, 1 he was the son of a leather- 
seller in Holborn ; and the same biographer states that his father 
placed him, when a boy, under a clever drawing-master, whom he 
disliked, and would not serve as an apprentice. From Pyne's own 
account, as editor of the Somerset House Gazette, this would seem to 
have been one Henry Pars (he calls him ' William '), elder brother of 
of William Pars, A.R.A. From about 1763 to the time of his 
death in 1806 at the age of seventy-two, 2 this teacher kept a drawing 
academy well known in its day, which had been founded by a painter 
called William Shipley (also the main originator of the Society of Arts), 
to whom Pars succeeded at the date first mentioned. It was carried 
on in a house in the Strand, which afterwards became a portion of 
Ackermann's Repository of Arts. Here, says the writer, ' for one 
short season we attempted the use of black and white chalks.' 3 For 
copying plaster casts from the antique seems to have been the limit 
of the practice at Pars's school, whither at that time students went to 
be prepared for ' St. Martin's Lane.' 4 

Leaving this scrap of autobiography to be further elucidated as it 
may, we tread on surer ground when searching the Royal Academy 
catalogues for Pyne's exhibited works. From 1790 to 1801 he had at 
intervals been exhibiting drawings, twenty in all, coming for the most 
part under the category of Landscape. But ' he possessed one great 
advantage over most of his contemporaries who treated similar 
subjects, in the ability with which he introduced figures and animals 
into his landscapes, so as to render them, not mere accessories, but of 
positive interest.' s In the titles of his first year's drawings, indeed, 
figures are set forth by the titles as the acknowledged principals. 
' Travelling Comedians,' ' Bartholomew-fair,' ' A Puppet-show,' and ' A 
Village with figures merry-making,' are the congenial subjects with 
which he breaks ground in 1790 and 1791. After this they are 
chiefly rural views, in various English counties ; with a few, such as 

1 Dictionary of the English School. * Redgrave's Dictionary. 

3 Somerset House Gazette, ii. 221. 

* Gilchrist's Life of Blake, \. 8, 9. Redgrave, in his Dictionary (< Henry Pars,' ' William 
Shipley ') seems to confound the Strand school with the senior Academy. 

* Art Union, October 1843. 



CH. II HILLS, PYNE, AND POCOCK 139 

' Corn Harvest,' ' Gipsies in a Wood,' ' Anglers,' and ' A Conversation,' 
which give a hint that the figures constitute the main source of 
interest. In 1801, he and neighbour Hills join brushes to produce 
two works in combination, and then both abstain, while they and 
their fellow-conspirators are hatching their plot. 

But Pyne, like Hills, had also given evidence of his talent by a 
use of the etching point. There are said to exist three large plates 
by him of figure-groups for decorating landscapes, published by 
Ackermann, in a wrapper, with the date i/pi. 1 And there may be 
more of that early time. There is also a book called ' Nattes's Practi- 
cal Geometry, or an introduction to Perspective, translated from the 
French of Le Clere, with additions and alterations,' which has a 
vignette title-page engraved by W. H. Pyne after a design by C. 
Nattes, with the imprint ' Pub d &c. for J. C. Nattes by W. Miller, 
Albemarle Street, 1805.' A second edition, in 8vo, is dated 1819. 
It is curiously illustrated with forty-four other plates containing 
geometrical diagrams, under each of which is a vignette etched by 
Pyne ' from designs analogous to the different geometrical figures,' the 
subjects being such as the following : a horse-mill, windmill, water con- 
duit and carts, kilns, pumps, cranes and other machines, with figures 
about them appropriately employed as wheelwrights, printers, wood- 
men, sawyers, brickmakers and other artisans at work ; and pic- 
turesque objects and groups of various kinds. Many of these are 
signed ' W. H. Pyne. 1 803.' 

At this time he must also have been actively engaged in putting 
together the varied contents of a work which when complete was 
published in two volumes oblong folio, with the title, ' Microcosm, or a 
Picturesque Delineation of the Arts, Agriculture, Manufactures &c. 
of Great Britain, in a series of above a thousand groups of small 
figures for the embellishment of landscape, comprising the most inte- 
resting subjects in rural and domestic scenery, in external and internal 
navigation, in country sports and employments, in the arts of war 
and peace ; the whole accurately drawn from nature, and etched by 
W. H. Pyne, and aquatinted by J. Hill to which are now added 
explanations of the plates, and essays relating to their various subjects 
by C. Gray. . . . Pub d by W. H. Pyne, No. 38 Argyle Street, and 
J. C. Nattes, No. 5 Woodstock Street, &c.' Vol. i. (2nd edit, dated 
1806) contains 61 plates, and vol. ii. 71. The imprints on the plates 

1 Bookseller's Catalogue. 



140 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. ill 

have dates from March 1802 to 1807. Other series of plates of the 
same class by him belong to a later date. 

A few groups like those of the Microcosm are at the British 
Museum. In them the pen is used neatly (without the freedom and 
dash of a dexterous sketcher such, for example, as Rowlandson), and 
some are composed with much taste. There is a drawing by him at 
South Kensington of ' Rustic Cottages ' with the date 1806 ; ' painted 
in transparent colour, lights taken out, and some opaque colour 
used.' ' 

The writer of an obituary notice of Pyne in the Art Union of 
October 1843, who seems to have known him well, considers him to 
have been ' in many respects the beau ideal of the artistic character 
disinterestedly devoted to art for its own sake, even to enthusiasm, 
yet unfortunately for himself not gifted with the enthusiasm of 
application. A sort of constitutional easiness and happy tempera- 
ment of mind rendered him more indifferent to worldly success, even 
in his profession, than was consistent with prudence. Otherwise he 
might no doubt have distinguished himself as one of the first water- 
colour painters of the day, especially in familiar rural landscape 
scenery and topographical views with old buildings, which he either 
sketched or composed with great facility, and with admirable feeling." 
The same writer gives him the credit of having ' in some instances 
invented, in others improved upon ' the processes which transformed 
the tinter's art into water-colour painting. But we do not find him 
making any such claim on his own behalf. He had begun in the old 
manner. ' In his early works,' says Redgrave, ' his foregrounds are 
carefully drawn with the pen and tinted with warm colour, his middle 
distances put in with grey.' But he was now one of those who most 
clearly appreciated the importance of the change which had taken 
place in the technique of water-colour art. 2 

Pyne himself, however, has been more widely recognized as the 
historian of that art, than as one of its leading practitioners. Of his 

1 Descriptive Catalogue, 175- 

2 Graves, in his Index, describes the twenty-two works which Pyne exhibited at Somerset 
House between 1790 and 1811 as being chiefly 'portraits;' a description which in fact 
applies to no more than two, which he exhibited in the last of those years, he then having 
had nothing at the Academy since 1801. Pyne no doubt was a versatile artist, and could turn 
his hand to portraiture when he chose. John Britton the antiquary had two drawings of his, 
one representing ' The Beefsteak Club,' the other ' The Sale of Dr. Mead's Pictures and 
Antiques,' both with portraits, and said to be capital illustrations of the time. See also 
Britton's Autobiography, Part II. p. 183. 



CH. II HILLS, PYNE, AND POCOCK 14 i 

literary works there will be occasion to speak more fully by-and-by. 
Suffice it at present to say that in their lively, unclassic style, and the 
fund of anecdote they contain, they bespeak the writer's turn for 
gossip, as well as a certain instability in his character. ' Gossip,' says 
his biographer above quoted, 'was at once his forte and his foible. 
He was not so remarkable for conversational as for narrative power. 
No one could tell a story better or more graphically. Anecdote 
would beget anecdote and story story from him, during an entire 
evening, to the immense gratification of his auditors, but to the 
suspension of other conversation. He has been known to go out to a 
breakfast party, and by entertaining to detain all the company till one 
o'clock the following morning. But this talent was dearly paid for, 
by his indulging it too far, to the sacrifice of time, and the interrup- 
tion of study that might have been more profitable. Another foible 
in him was want of steadiness in his pursuits. He was always pro- 
jecting some scheme or other, some of them very chimerical ones, as 
to whose success he was for the time most sanguine until a fresher 
one started up out of his prolific imagination.' ' This was the kind 
of man to espouse with warmth the cause of the slighted draftsmen ; 
and he now bent his energies to the task in hand of securing fair 
play to their profession. If the above account of him is to be relied 
on, he must have ruled the discussions in George Street, Hanover 
Square. 

The nature of those discussions may be in a measure inferred 
from the protocol of regulations for the Society, which was their 
eventual outcome. The reformers were soon agreed- as to the evils 
that existed, and as to the proper remedy to be applied. It was 
conceived that, given the materials of an attractive exhibition, a mode 
might be devised for an equitable distribution among the members 
of any surplus which should arise from the excess of the receipts at 
the doors over the annual expenses of rent, advertisements, money and 
check takers, upholsterers &c. The members' shares in such distribu- 
tion were to be proportioned to ' the capital they had thrown in of 
labour and also frames and glasses. Another prominent feature in 
the first sketch for a plan and constitution was suggested by the 
reflection that when a work at the Royal Academy, through its own 
merits and the advantage of a good place, had attracted the notice of 
a lover and patron of art, there had still been an impediment to its 

1 Art Union, October 1843. 



142 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. ill 

sale in the awkwardness of backing out of the artist's house when 
the price asked was deemed too much, or perhaps finding that it was 
already sold. A clerk in the exhibition room with a book containing 
the prices of all those paintings sent for sale, ready to answer 
inquiries and to take deposits, would give the artist a much better 
chance for customers than he would have at the Royal Academy ; as, 
on the other hand, if a would-be purchaser asked the prices of twenty 
works by the same hand or by as many different artists, and found 
that every one according to his opinion had been overrated, he would 
have paid his shilling for looking at them, and owed not even a hint 
of apology for having purchased nothing.' ' 

But the preliminary difficulty had first to be encountered by the 
projectors of obtaining a sufficient number of adherents to the good 
cause. Of the old leaders of the school most had passed away or 
were hors de combat. The elder Cozens, Barret, Gainsborough, were 
long since dead. They had been followed in the last decade of the 
old year by Webber, Grimm, Tom Sandby, William Marloiv, and 
John Cozens. Thomas Malton (the elder), Michael Rooker, and 
Wheatley, all died in 1801, and James Malton in 1803. Before the 
scheme was to. be accomplished, Thomas Malton (the younger), and 
poor Dayes were to go too, both in 1804. In their midst, the bright 
flame of young Girtiris genius had burst forth, and in 1802 expired. 
Hale old Paul Sandby was living yet, in sunny St. George's Row. 
But his sum of winters approached fourscore ; and he and Hearne, 
now in his sixtieth year, 2 were to be reckoned as veterans of the old 
generation, not as reformers of the new. There were Loutlierbourg, 
aged sixty-three, Farington, fifty-six, and Thomas Daniell, fifty-four, all 
of whom had practised more or less in water-colour. But they were 
in the Academy. The splendid talent of Turner was inaccessible 
for the same reason. But there were a number of rising men, and 
others that had attained eminence, who favoured the project. It was 
believed that their works, brought together, would form an exhibition 
not only attractive to the public, but remunerative to the artists. 
' Shelley, besides his popularity from miniature portraits,' had, as before 
mentioned, ' a collection of subjects on ivory of a large size. Glover 'of 
Lichfield had started and was in vogue. J. Varley was a man of 

1 R. Hills. MS. 

2 Hearne died on ' April 13, 1817, and was buried by his friend Dr. Monro in Bushcy 
churchyard.' (Redgrave's Dictionary.} The publication of the 'Antiquities' plates con- 
tinued till 1806. 



Cil. II HILLS, PYNE, AND POCOCK 143 

acknowledged talent. There were still Nicholson, Cristall, and 
others.' ' 

And among the older painters of acknowledged repute there was 
at least ' Warwick ' Smith who had declared himself favourable to 
the scheme. With his name it seemed to be feasible. But, friend 
though he was, he was also cautious not to commit himself to a share 
of certain expenses and uncertain advantages. He promised re- 
peatedly to attend, but as often failed to do so ' playing,' as Hills 
describes his conduct, ' She would and she would not.' Others were 
shy of the undertaking for the same reason, others again from a 
dread of hopeless exclusion from the Royal Academy in case of 
failure. The utmost hope of the projectors had been that they might 
muster twenty names to start with ; but from the above causes the 
accomplishment of their plans was delayed (reckoning from the time 
of Wells and Shelley's first conception) for nearly three years. It 
was not until the autumn of 1804 that ten artists could be got 
together to mould the concern into a definite shape. 

Some of the six recruits were men of weight and distinction. The 
oldest in years was Nicholas Pocock. He was chiefly a marine painter. 
It was very desirable to have a branch of art of such living interest 
in that age of naval warfare adequately represented in the exhibi- 
tion, apart from the valuable element of variety which it would impart. 
Pocock was an artist of position, deservedly in high esteem. Though 
one of the now antiquated school of stainers and tinters, he has been 
reckoned ' among the first to rescue his art from the dominion of out- 
line by blending softness and aerial perspective with force of effect.' 2 

NICHOLAS POCOCK was born about 1741, and consequently 
sixty-three or so when our Society was formed. His knowledge of 
marine matters was derived from actual experience as a sailor, he 
having when a young man had the command of vessels owned by 
Mr. Richard Champion, a Bristol merchant. It was the same Richard 
Champion who afterwards took to making china, and became cele- 
brated as the producer of the fine porcelain known as Bristol ware. 
Redgrave 3 tells us that Pocock's father was himself a merchant of 
that city and a man of good descent. But he seems to have left his 
family somewhat ill provided for. Champion's sister writes of 
'Captain Nicholas Pocock, who commanded the Lloyd' (in April 
1 R. Hills. MS. * J. W. Papworth. MS. Dictionary of the English School. ' 



i 4 4 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

1767), as a 'young man who had been some time in' that ship- 
owner's ' employ, one of three brothers, whose mother was a widow 
supported by this son. He was,' she adds, ' much caressed by my 
brother, and valued by us all ; ' and she speaks of his having unusual 
good sense and diffidence, which made him duly conscious of a lack 
of hiVh educational culture. In the intervals when he was not at 

o 

sea he spent much of his time at ' Mr. Champion's, and never seemed 
happy but when there.' 

Pocock sometimes talked of giving up his sailor's life, to enable 
him to indulge his fine taste for drawing. When at sea his graphic 
talent was in constant exercise. ' Six volumes of journal, fair copied, 
and illustrated with charming drawings in Indian ink of the principal 
incident in each day, are ' or were ' in the possession of Champion's 
grandsons. Some of the subjects are very artistic, and, though 
necessarily on a small scale, are always interesting. A gale, a calm, 
a vessel spoken or a sail in sight, or some object strange or new that 
arrested attention, never failed to be recorded by his facile pencil. 
Having commanded the Lloyd, and afterwards the Minerva, for some 
years, he carried his early resolutions into effect,' by leaving the sea 
and taking to the fine arts as a profession. 1 He was then about 
thirty years of age. 

Redgrave says, 2 ' He drew portraits, landscapes, and sea-pieces, 
devoting himself chiefly to marine subjects,' and that ' in 1780 Sir 
Joshua Reynolds wrote him an encouraging letter, criticizing his first 
picture in oil, which had arrived at the Academy too late for ex- 
hibition.' His first exhibited works were in 1782, when he sent four to 
Somerset House. Two were portraits of ships, and two were views in 
or near Bristol. From that time he became a frequent exhibitor, and 
' many an early sketch of scenery in South Carolina and the West 
India islands was turned to account.' A fine early picture from his 
pencil, representing ' Earl Rodney's victory over De Grasse 3 in the 
West Indies, I2th April, 1782,' is in the possession of the Bristol 
Society of Merchants. It was engraved in line by Francis Chesham, 
and published by Walker, 148 Fleet Street, I March, 1784, the 
above society subscribing ten guineas towards the expense. 

1 Hugh Owen's Ceramic Art in Bristol (1873), P- 49- 

1 Dictionary of the English School. 

1 There is a large picture by Pocock at Greenwich of a previous repulse of the French 
under De Grasse in the same year, by Sir Samuel Hood's fleet, which took place at St. 
Kill's in January 1782. 



CH. II HILLS, PYNE, AND POCOCK 145 

In 1789 Pocock left Bristol, where he had hitherto continued to 
reside, and settled in London. He had then married a wife, and 
begun to rear a family. Soon he rose to distinction as a painter of 
naval engagements, for which the long struggle for mastery at sea 
that followed the declaration of war with France in 1793, gave him 
only too ample a supply of subjects. Since 1796 Pocock had 
resided at No. 12 Great George Street, Westminster, where he en- 
joyed an extensive acquaintance with admirals and commanders of 
the navy. He had also in his visiting circle some of the theatrical 
celebrities of the day, including the Kemblcs and Mrs. Siddons. 

A fine portrait of him by his son Isaac, 1 who had already esta- 
blished himself as a figure painter, represents Nicholas Pocock as of 
gentle aspect, with large dark eyes, generally handsome features, and 
a sensible expression. 

1 Isaac Pocock, besides being a painter, was also a dramatic author. He wrote the once 
popular melodrama 'The Miller and his Men.' There is a caricature portrait of N. Pocock 
in A. E. Chalon's drawing of ' Artists in the IJritish Institution,' engraved in the Portfolio, 
Nov. 1884, p. 219. 



146 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 



CHAPTER III 

NICHOLSON 

Francis Nicholson Autobiography Birth and education Want of sympathy With 
Beckwith at York With a copyist at Scarborough At Pickering Paints horses, dogs 
and game Patrons First visit to London Paints seats and portraits At Whitby 
Takes to landscape Mode of multiplying sketches Exhibits in London At Knares- 
borough Fraudulent copies Visit to Lord Bute in Scotland At Ripon Draws for 
Walker's magazine Travels with Sir H. and Lady Tuite Settles in London Engaged 
in teaching Power of water-colours ' Stopping-mixture' Two impostors Society of 
Arts and the drawing-masters. 

THE next recruit was also past mid-age. He was an able landscape 
painter, whose works contribute to form some of the stronger links 
that unite the old school with the new, namely the Yorkshire artist 
before mentioned, ' Francis Nicholson.' 

Nicholson lived to a grand old age, and died in 1844, long after 
the events we are now about to relate. In the latter end of his life 
he drew up for his children's gratification ' some account,' as he 
styled it, ' of my various employments during a period of eighty years 
and upwards, the time having been passed in my practice of the 
arts.' After the writer's death his son-in-law, the late Mr. T. Crofton 
Croker, F.S.A., had entertained the idea of printing the contents of 
this manuscript for circulation among friends. But this was not 
done, and after some ten or twelve years had elapsed it was thought 
by the family that these autobiographical sketches would not prove 
of sufficient general interest to justify their publication. Happily, 
however, Mr. Jenkins was favoured with a manuscript copy, from 
which most of the facts about to be related are taken, often in the 
words of the original. At the time when these notes were put 
together their author may have been right in assigning to them no 
more than a private interest, on the ground that the events described 
were ' what thousands of people before him must have been equally 
subject to in following the same pursuits.' But the very fact of their 
possessing this generic character gives them value in such a history 



CH. ill NICHOLSON 147 

as the present, as affording a type of professional life during the 
period to which they refer. In making use of Nicholson's memoranda 
for the following account of his earlier career, the present compiler 
has therefore abstained from trimming too closely their margin of 
extraneous matter. 

FRANCIS NICHOLSON was born on the 1 4th of November, 1753, 
at Pickering in Yorkshire, ' where,' says Redgrave, ' his family 
possessed a small property.' On his own evidence he was an in- 
dustrious, painstaking lad, who, notwithstanding a manifest penchant 
or the pencil, would not suffer a good school training to be thrown 
away upon him. His practice in drawing began very early in life, 
the first attempt being a sketch of a ship made with a piece of 
chalk upon his ' Reading-made-easy.' ' My cousin, George Kirby," 
says he, ' who sat next to me on the same form, having done one on 
his own book, I thought surely I could do that or anything that he 
could do.' From the preparatory school where this incident oc- 
curred he was sent to a secondary one to learn writing &c. Here 
his first attempts were not encouraging. He was called an awkward 
dog, that would never be good for anything. But the master who 
said so changed his opinion, and became proud of showing off the 
boy's progress in arithmetic and in drawing, prognosticating that he 
would be another ' Cozens, who went to London and became a 
famous draftsman.' This must mean Alexander Cozens, and tends 
to show the repute that artist enjoyed. 

Middle-class education in Yorkshire seems to have stood pretty 
high even in the early days of King George the Third's reign, for young 
Nicholson was but ten years old when, in 1763, he was entered at 
the principal school in Pickering 'for instruction in arithmetic, geometry, 
trigonometry, astronomy, &c. This,' he adds, ' was the last of my 
schooling ; and although a great part of what I had acquired could 
never be of much use to me, I did not consider the whole time lost, 
as I could work my questions and have time to draw also. I 
remember once the master was angry and rebuked me for doing too 
much ; I being in decimals and applying for questions so often that 
he lost patience, saying, " Put it down, put it down ! If I am to set 
questions as fast as you can work them, I shall have no time for 
anybody else. Shut up your book for the day." ' 

When the boy's school days were over, and it became necessary to 
settle his course of life, it was found that he had acquired a bent for 



148 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

graphic art too strong to be resisted. Nicholson dates his determi- 
nation to be an artist from the year 1760 (he was then but seven), 
when, happening to be sent on an errand and being shown into a room 
to await an answer, he cast his eye upon a portrait that hung there 
' a portrait,' he says, ' I shall never forget, nor what passed in my 
mind respecting it, thinking, if I ever attained the power of doing 
anything like that, there was nothing in the world I should wish for, 
or be disturbed by, notwithstanding the increasing complaints of 
the hardness of the times and the difficulty of gaining a subsistence.' 

But the poor fellow found himself in an unsympathetic world, 
among people who had not an idea beyond methods of tillage and 
the succession of crops. Such subjects were fluently discussed 
around him, but he could not attend to what was said or retain it in 
his mind, and so came to the sad conclusion that he differed from 
the rest of his species. His father regarded the exercise of the 
pencil as an idle amusement, and did his best to wean him from such 
a pursuit. After leaving school, therefore, our young artist was reduced 
to drawing by stealth. But he had a kind aunt, who furnished him 
with materials, and secreted him in a little back parlour, where he 
employed himself in copying prints. The son speaks tenderly of his 
parent's natural prejudice in preferring ' a good regular trade of any 
kind whatever ' to ' a precarious fancy employment.' ' In that,' says 
he, ' he was not singular, the father of my friend Jackson ' being of 
the same mind. When many of his friends endeavoured to prevail 
on him to allow his son to follow his inclination, it was long before 
he could be brought to consent to it. Dr. Harrison, of Kirby 
Moreside, his strong advocate, laboured hard to convince the old 
man how much better his son would do as an artist than he could 
ever hope to see him do by continuing to follow his own trade ; but 
he ever replied, " He is as good a tailor as ever sat on a shop-board, 
and how can he do better?" : Nicholson's father did not remain 
obdurate, and when he at length consented to his son's wish had the 
good sense to be as desirous to give him every assistance in his 
power as he had before been to obstruct him. There was no artist 
nearer than York, and even there but one, whose name was Beckwith. 
With him, therefore, young Nicholson was left for a month on trial. 
If the result should be satisfactory, he was to be apprenticed for seven 

1 The portrait painter, John Jackson, R.A., born at Lastingham in the North Riding 
of Yorkshire, 31 May, 1778. 



CH. in NICHOLSON 149 

years. Mr. Bcckwith approved of the student's copy of an outline 
of a head which was placed before him to see what he could do 
' approved of it, perhaps, too well,' says Nicholson, ' as it afterwards 
appeared. Though it was very little that I knew,' he adds, 'yet 
I could perceive that he was but a poor performer, but (his being 
the only instruction to be had) was very willing to be placed with 
him. In the month of trial he painted a small whole-length portrait 
of a gentleman. The picture seemed to me bad, having no effect, 
cutting in every part hard against the background, as though the 
figure had been put on by stencilling. I perfectly remember the 
feet ; the shoes being black all over, and not foreshortened so as to 
appear standing upon the floor, but like an elongated ace of spades. 
So the figure stood upon the points of his toes. Yet the likeness 
in the face was obtained, which was the main point. The sitter was 
dressed in white cotton stockings, which Mr. B. objected to, as they 
would catch the eye, and he prevailed upon him to allow himself to 
be hosed in blue worsted.' Poor as Mr. B.'s painting was, he could 
talk about it fluently enough ; and when Nicholson called upon him 
some years afterwards, he found him somewhat severe on the drawing 
of Sir Joshua. The proposed apprenticeship broke down, however, 
on grounds unconnected with art. Good motherly Mrs. Nicholson, 
on coming to see her boy, found out by shrewd questioning that he 
was poorly fed, and had to eke out his repasts by spending his 
pocket money at the baker's, and that the apprentices were still 
worse off, having to eat, instead of good brown bread, a coarse con- 
fection known by the name of ' Roger.' 

Her husband in the mean time learned from a fellow-townsman, 
one Mr. Stockton, then established at York as a chemist, that 
Beckwith wanted to have a clause inserted in the indenture by which 
the apprentice should be debarred from exercising his profession in 
that city. Mr. Nicholson sagaciously inferred that, if the master 
were already afraid of his pupil, he would never fulfil his duty as an 
instructor, but, on the contrary, do his best to keep him back. So 
the young artist was taken home again, very unwillingly on his part, 
though he had ever after great reason to be thankful for the escape 
from a sacrifice of seven good years of his life. 

His parents now turned to Scarborough as affording the only 
chance of help. There was a nearly self-taught painter there, who 
had received some instruction from a crony of his, a clever but eccentric 



i$o THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. m 

travelling artist called Smirke. This Smirke had been induced by 
one of his countrymen to leave Carlisle, his native place, and come to 
Scarborough with his son, in the hope of finding good employment 
there in the spare season. Failing to do so, he went to London, and 
there apprenticed his son to Bromley the coach-painter in Long Acre. 
The son afterwards distinguished himself as a subject-painter, being 
no other than Robert Smirke, R.A., himself the father of a family of 
artists. As the Smirk es are known to have come to London in 1766, 
this gives us an approximate date for these events. Young Nicholson 
may have been about thirteen when he went to this Scarborough 
painter for tuition in art. 

' My instructor, 1 he writes (without telling his name), ' never 
painted an original subject, but succeeded very well as a copyist, and 
had done several from good old masters. He copied a Guido, the 
size of the original, as well as most artists would have done it ; the 
subject being the daughter of Herodias bearing on a charger the head 
of John the Baptist. He painted every kind of subject, but his 
favourite was the horse, he having in his youth been a racing jockey. 
He always maintained that he never saw a picture he could not copy ; 
which I think he would have done passing well. But he never had 
confidence to attempt more.' 

After being three years at Scarborough, young Nicholson returned 
to Pickering to get what employment he could. The prospect was 
not very bright. ' In my commencement,' he writes, ' I lost much 
time, being confined by circumstances during many years in a part of 
the country where works of art were scarcely to be found, and among 
a people utterly unable to appreciate such, if they had possessed 
them.' But as there were in the neighbourhood several resident 
gentlemen, ' nearly the whole being what are called sportsmen,' 
young Nicholson was employed to paint the portraits of favourite 
horses, dogs, dead game, &c. Of the last he had good opportunities 
of painting from nature. Often, when these gentlemen killed game 
in a high state of beauty and fine plumage, it was sent to him for 
study. Occasionally he had a human sitter for a portrait ; and he 
found himself comfortable, not only in having a good home, but kind 
friends. The chief of these was Thomas Hayes, Esq., a magistrate 
in the neighbourhood, at whose house the young artist was always 
welcome. A bed and a place at the table were his when he was 
there, and he would stay for weeks, and nearly at all times when he 



CH. Ill NICHOLSON 151 

had no other engagements. Of this hospitable patron he made 
several portraits, and he also painted those of Mrs. and Miss Hayes. 
' I have,' he writes, ' a duplicate of his, and prize it next to that of my 
good and kind aunt.' 

Nicholson had another much valued friend in Mr. Blomberg, a 
descendant of Baron Blomberg, who came over with George the First, 
and settled at Kirby Misperton, near Pickering. For him he painted 
several pictures, one of which, of dead game, was recognized long 
after by his brother, who also used the brush, and did the house- 
painting for the Rev. Dr. Blomberg, into whose possession the 
property had come on the death of Nicholson's patron. ' You seem 
to like that picture,' said the Doctor, observing that he was gazing 
upon it one day when he came to inspect his men's work. ' It is a 
great favourite of mine. I have no doubt it is an original, but so 
different from everything I have seen of the same subject, I cannot 
make out whom it is by, and should like very much to know.' ' I 
can inform you of that,' said the decorator ; ' it was painted by my 
brother, when he lived with the rest of the family at Pickering, and 
he painted many more of the same kind for gentlemen in the neigh- 
bourhood.' ' I should like to know,' writes the artist, ' whether Dr. B. 
continued to view it as a favourite, or, what is more likely, sent it up 
into the garret.' 

Mr. Blomberg also employed him to take portraits of his dogs, a 
task which gave him some trouble, by reason of the unwillingness of 
some of them to stand a steady gaze. An enormous house-dog of 
the Newfoundland breed was induced to sit to him twice, but never 
would come in his sight again if he could avoid it ; always taking 
himself off to the house of a tenant, where he would stay a few days. 
If at his return the artist with the evil eye were gone, he remained at 
home ; if not, he trotted back. The same was the case with several of 
the larger breeds. A favourite pointer, whose portrait he tried to take 
in the dining-room, fairly bolted through the window to avoid being 
stared at. ' But at terriers, harriers, or mongrels,' says Nicholson, ' I 
might have stared myself blind without their notice.' Thus he fagged 
on for about two years, all the time hating the country, ' where little 
was to be seen and nothing to be heard worth listening to,' and still 
feeling that he was like nobody, and nobody like him. 

At last the long-wished-for time arrived when it was deemed 
necessary to send him to London for further instruction. There, 



152 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY UK. lit 

entering a new world of sympathy, he, to his astonishment and 
delight, met with hundreds of people like himself, who neither knew 
nor cared more about agriculture, cattle, manure, and tillage than he 
did. ' The Exhibition ' being open (it must have been the Royal 
Academy in its old rooms in Pall Mall), he found ' plenty of subjects 
for study.' But it is curiously illustrative of our proverbial contempt 
for things familiar, that at that time Nicholson, afterwards best known 
for excellence in rural landscape, nurtured as he was among the very 
scenes that were to inspire the poetic feelings of a Turner and a 
Girtin, besides a host of lesser artists, should add the following 
confession : ' One class was little attended to. When the finest 
landscapes of Wilson, Barret, and others were pointed out to my 
notice, I only said, " I hate to look at them, they are so like the 
country." ' 

While in London, Nicholson took some lessons from Metz, ' a 
German artist who drew the figure extremely well,' who procured for 
him several good pictures, which he copied, one in particular, ' Jason 
destroying the Dragon,' by Salvator. 1 Smirke also, with whom he 
became acquainted, being frequently with him at Bromley's, procured 
for him from different friends several pictures to copy. 

After about seven months in London, being unable to obtain 
means of recruiting his now exhausted funds, he had to return to the 
country, disliking it more than ever. When he gets back to Yorkshire 
he begins the same kind of practice, out of which we have already 
seen so much of the school of water-colour landscape to have taken 
its rise. In addition to the favourite horses and dogs which had con- 
stituted the only subjects which the country gentlemen had called 
upon him to paint, he now mentions a demand for ' views about their 
places of residence.' There being no one else to paint these subjects, 
the whole fell to Nicholson's share. After a good deal of such practice 
he was able to get nine more months in London, during which he 
' did many things,' and then, returning to Pickering, found employ- 
ment as before. He now for the first time speaks of making what 
were probably water-colour drawings. ' At Scampston, the seat of 
Sir William St. Quintin, I made for him a set of drawings of the 

1 ' Many years afterwards,' adds Nicholson, ' being settled in London, I was engaged to 
give lessons in drawing to Miss Smith, a daughter of Mr. Smith, many years M.P. for the 
county of Norfolk. He had collected many excellent pictures. One of them was the Jason 
I had copied.' 



CH. ill NICHOLSON 153 

house and grounds another for the Lord of the Manor, Mr. Hill, of 
his seat and grounds ; also several pictures in oil of his horses and 
dogs. From the best of my friends, Mr. Hayes, I had employment 
of several kinds, and painted for him the ceiling of a large summer- 
house in his garden, filled with mythological figures. The subject is 
the triumph of Britannia. This employed me 7 or 8 months. If I 
could see it now, it would doubtless be with a desire to brush it out.' 
He also painted portraits when he could get a sitter. That 
Nicholson had some of the social tact essential to a successful career 
in this line, is evinced in the following amusing account of the sittings 
he received, about this time, from a certain Captain H. Clarke. One 
day this gentleman observed how unfortunate he had been in sitting 
to thirteen different artists, not one of whom succeeded in producing 
a likeness. His features were marked, and he had a dark, florid 
complexion. ' Not apprehending any difficulty,' says Nicholson, ' I 
was desirous to try, and proposed to take a couple of sittings for a 
head only. If that proved satisfactory I would paint a half-length. 
This he agreed to. At the first sitting it was clear enough why he 
never had a likeness from any of the thirteen, he being not only a 
very bad sitter, but having a nervous twitching of the face like Mathews 
the late professor of trickery. He would start up to object to this as 
too dark, that too red, &c. In short he did everything except taking 
the pencils from me and painting himself. I was now certain that 
nothing could be done unless I bestowed upon him a very flattering 
complexion. On my assurance that he should be perfectly satisfied, 
he was prevailed upon to give me a second sitting. The likeness 
having been got sufficiently to enable me to proceed with the half- 
length, it was begun, and the head considerably advanced, before a 
further sitting was required. He approved of the very nice complexion 
given to him, and the work went on smoothly. When finished, it was 
thought very like. He took every means to be satisfied that it was 
so, by showing it to everybody who came to the house. I never heard 
but one critical remark. It was from a man who said it was very 
like, yet he thought there was something or other about the cheek 
not quite right. The critic having been many years Captain Clarke's 
barber and hairdresser, was doubtless a competent judge of that part. 
Soon I had the pleasure of seeing it splendidly framed and hung in 
his dining-room.' Another of Nicholson's sitters would hardly be 
pleased. On seeing the work of the first sitting, he called out, ' Why, 



154 THE FOUNDING OP THE SOCIETY BK. Ill 

it squints ! ' 'I assured him,' says the painter, ' that he was mistaken, 
and that it squinted no more than he did, which was true. It did not 
squint half as much.' 

In 1783, Nicholson, then thirty years of age, went to Whitby, with 
the intention of staying there to get such employment as might be 
offered. He had been induced to try the place by the Captain Clarke 
above mentioned, who could be of service to him in that locality. 
There he painted several portraits, and there he took unto himself a 
wife. There too, at length, in the Mulgrave woods, his mind was 
opened to the charms of picturesque scenery, and from that time he 
became the Francis Nicholson known to students of water-colour 
landscape. Recalling, in old age, the scenes wherein he then made for 
Constantine, Lord Mulgrave, a collection of sketches of the ruins of 
the old castle, the modern mansion, grounds, &c., he writes : ' The 
place is very picturesque ; the old castle standing on an elevated ridge 
having a deep ravine on each side well wooded, and about the bottom 
rocky. Through the eastern dell a rivulet runs over a rocky bed, 
dashing about very beautifully. At the end of this ravine is a corn 
mill, and immediately below it a large and well-formed group of rocks, 
all as they had fallen naturally, being far too massive to be placed arti- 
ficially." Barret and Wilson would surely no longer have been 
distasteful to him as reminders of the country. 

At Whitby he works hard, beginning with the daylight, and sitting 
sixteen hours a day, and many times a great part of the night. 
Perhaps indeed his art would have been the better for more sketching 
from nature, and less of midnight oil. But he has found his vocation 
as a landscape draftsman, and is bent on securing a market for works 
which he can produce in quick succession. There was not much to 
be got from the Whitby public, but at Scarborough, ' during the spaw 
season,' his drawings had a ready sale. And going several times to 
London by sea, he found connections there also, and obtained 
unlimited orders for as many drawings as he could furnish. The 
shrewd Yorkshireman had a cunning way of keeping his wares in 
request. ' My plan was,' said he, ' to have two strings to my bow, 
being by that means independent ; and say to the country people, 
" If you do not like what I have done, it is very well ; I can readily 
dispose of it in London." There, on the other hand, I could at any 
time say, " If you are not satisfied with what is offered, let it alone ; 
it will be sold in the country.'" Nicholson had also at this time a 



CH. HI NICHOLSON 



'55 



canny method of multiplying his works. ' For Scarborough,' he 
writes, ' I manufactured an incredible number of drawings. My 
process was by etching on a soft ground the different views of the 
place, from which were taken impressions with black lead. This 
produced outlines so perfectly like those done by the pencil, that it 
was impossible to discover any difference. This was nearly half of 
the work, and in the long days of summer I finished them at the rate 
of six daily. 1 

After working thus at Whitby for nine years, during which we find 
him beginning also, from 1789, to send drawings to the London 
exhibitions, he made an excursion to Knaresborough, and was so 
much delighted with the place that he determined to remove to it on 
the next quarter day, and did so accordingly ; ' tenanting a house 
which his pleasant description may serve to identify if it still exists. 
It was, he says, ' in a most beautiful situation, the front facing the 
river, and separated from it only by the breadth of the road. The 
opposite bank of the river was rising ground and closely wooded 
down to the water. Through this plantation a long gravelled walk was 
formed from the upper [side ?] on the Harrowgate Road passing the 
back of the dripping rock to the lower bridge. From this place, to 
a public house said to have been the residence of the Yorkshire 
sibyl Mother Shipton, a path was formed leading to the foot of the 
rock. From the front of my house the view to the right was up the 
river ; to the left, a high rock, most perpendicular, well wooded in the 
parts about the bottom ; and upon the summit the ruins of the castle. 
The only unsightly [object] in the view down the river was a huge 
cotton mill, which in my drawings was always removed, and a former 
old corn mill restored to its place. Probably,' he adds, ' it may be 
down ere now, as we learn by the depression of trade the place is 
nearly ruined, and that good houses may be had for next to nothing.' 

Nicholson had good friends at Knaresborough, among whom he 
mentions Dr. Garnet and Mr. Broadbelt, but no actual patrons. He 
declared that, after staying there upwards of three years, spending 
his money in the place, he had never received the value of a shilling 
from any person in it in return. His market was at Harrogate. 
He had three or four frames of drawings always on view in the 
reading-room of the bookseller there. When a drawing was sold, it 
was taken out of the frame and replaced by another. From Harro- 
1 This would be about the year 1 792, when he was thirty-nine. 



156 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

gate he had numerous visitors, sometimes three or four at his door in 
the course of the morning, and several of them brought him employ- 
ment. 

Thus he became conspicuous enough to be worth stigmatizing for 
his independence of character. Having refused, though called upon 
by'two of the chief magistrates of the district, Sir Thomas Slingsby 
and Justice Watson, to support a war of which he did not approve, 
by subscribing for blankets for the Duke of York's army in Holland, 
he was publicly denounced by the former as a ' rank Jacobin.' ' Being 
no more a Jacobin,' he said, ' than Sir T. himself ; and knowing how 
people of his caste were terrified by the name of a Jacobin, however 
obscure, I was rather pleased than otherwise. I therefore had small 
cause to care for them, from Sir T. down to the parish beadle.' 

Nicholson's manner of drawing was now sufficiently known, and 
his works were in such repute that it was thought worth a dealer's 
while to pass off copies of them for originals, the supply thereof to 
the metropolis not being equal to the demand. In or about 1793, 
when he was residing at Knaresborough, a friend, Mr. Carr, a merchant 
at Leeds, informed him that he had seen in a frame-maker's window 
in London two or three palpable copies of drawings by him. On 
Mr. Carr's remonstrating with the man who had exposed them for 
sale, the dealer admitted that when the artist's original drawings were 
sent to him to be framed, he set people to make copies of them. He 
should be very glad, he said, to get originals ; but that Nicholson, 
having come into possession of considerable property, now worked 
very little. On another occasion, Nicholson himself was shown by 
Archdeacon Markham at York a stranger's drawing, on a mount with 
his own autograph at the back. His drawing had been removed by 
some fraudulent person, and a copy substituted. Thus tricks of the 
trade are not all of recent date. 

It is not always, however, that a copy is inferior to the original. 
Nicholson once saw in a shop window in Maddox Street a copy of a 
drawing of his of the Dripping Rock at Knaresborough, which he 
preferred to his own work, and would have bought had it been for 
sale ; but it was only sent there to be framed. He describes it as 
exactly similar, but richer and more highly finished in the details ; the 
foreground plants in particular being made out so as to satisfy a 
botanist, while the effect and breadth of every part were preserved. 

Among the visitors from Harrogate came a distinguished patron, 



CH. in NICHOLSON , 57 

Lord Bute. Being at the time in great trouble on the death of his 
eldest son, Lord Mountstuart, by a fall from his horse, he seems to 
have found relief in quietly watching our artist at his easel. ' He 
came,' says Nicholson, ' almost daily from thence in the morning, and, 
sitting by me, was amused by seeing my work go forward, never 
taking up my attention nor interrupting me in it. He usually stayed 
through the day, until his dinner hour, when he returned to Harrow- 
gate.' Finally Lord Bute took all the drawings done under his 
inspection, and engaged Nicholson to go to the Isle of Bute and 
make sketches of a set of views in various parts of the island. His 
account of this trip must be related as nearly as possible in the artist's 
own words : 

' My route to the island,' he writes, ' was made out for me. I was 
to go to Glasgow ; from thence to Greenock, where I should get a 
passage in a packet going daily to Bute. 

' I was landed at Rothsay, the port of Bute, where I immediately 
became an informer and reformer. On my arrival at Mountstuart, 
Lord B. inquired if the journey had been pleasant. I told him : " It 
was so until I got to Greenock, afterwards not so." On his asking 
why it was not, I told him : " On engaging a passage from thence, 
the captain directed me to be on board at two o'clock. In the mean- 
time I made a sketch. I might have done more, for on going at the 
appointed time, I found the vessel hard aground, and the captain 
could not possibly sail at the time he appointed, or any other until 
she floated, which was not before six. Upwards of twenty passengers 
were on deck, where we were compelled to remain through the night. 
There was no shelter of any kind, the vessel being filled with goods 
up to the top of the companion ladder. However, we suffered 
nothing, the night proving favourable." Lord Bute rang the bell, and 
on the appearance of a servant, asked if -Mr. May (the steward) was 
in the house. Being told he was, he desired to see him. He inquired 
of Mr. May : " What share have I in the Rothsay packet ? " I 
forget what the answer was ; but he told him to fit out another vessel 
directly, for without competition the public could never be well 
served. 

' Lord Bute went with me about the island and port to select 
subjects. At Rothsay he was pestered by apparently one of the 
chief people, who solicited him for assistance towards the repair of 
the pier, observing it would be a very pleasant walk whenever his 



ijfc THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY UK. in 

lordship might come down to the port. His lordship looked very 
gruff, and pointing out a long row of trees on the beach, with a shady 
walk under the branches, replied as gruffly : " Do you think, while 
there is such a place as that, I should be such a fool as to walk on a 
bare and exposed stone wall ? " The man slunk back and looked 
rather foolish. 

' When I had made a number of sketches on the island, Lord 
Bute had a revenue cutter brought up the Clyde to Mountstuart, 
where we embarked, coasting and sketching among the other islands 
in the Clyde. It then appeared that Lord Bute had another object 
in view, which was to raise recruits for the Government. Being off 
Arran, Mr. May went on shore, returning the next morning. He 
told his lordship that he had been unsuccessful, and not able to 
procure a single man. Lord Bute said : " Won't money tempt them ? " 
" Not at all," was the answer, and that, to avoid compulsion, many of 
the inhabitants were preparing to leave the country.' 

Our artist had been greatly pleased with the scenery of Bute. He 
found it to ' abound with subjects for the pencil ; always with grand 
objects in the distance ; Goatfell, the wildest part of the Isle of 
Arran, being only nine miles from Bute ; the forms very grand, and in 
that climate so distinctly seen that the breadth of the water between 
them seemed to be not more than two or three miles.' 

Soon after his return from Scotland, Nicholson removed from 
Knaresborough to Ripon, the scenery about which, with Studley 
Royal and Fountains Abbey, seems to have had a special charm for 
him. 

There was a strolling company of comedians that used to make 
their circuit in that part of the country, staying from six to eight 
weeks at each station in succession, and Ripon was one of their 
stations. Nicholson chanced to make acquaintance with one of the 
musicians attached to the company, named William Tayleure ; and 
finding that he was very fond of drawing, kindly told him that, as 
he had all the day at his disposal, being wanted in the orchestra at 
night only, he might, if he would apply himself diligently to the art, 
not only have any of his own works to copy, but the benefit of all 
the instruction he could give him. The offer was gladly accepted, 
and Tayleure worked very closely in the two or three seasons during 
which Nicholson continued to reside at Ripon. What became of 
this aspirant will appear in the sequel. 



CH. in NICHOLSON 159 

From Ripon, Nicholson made excursions through Wensleydale 
and the lesser dales opening into it on each side ; also to Swaledale, 
Wharfedale, Malham, &c., and Brimham rocks. He had already 
furnished a few drawings to the Walkers for their ' Copper Plate 
Magazine,' the first of the plates from them being dated i Aug. 
1792. Among them is a view of Ripon, published I Aug. 1793, 
but this must have been executed while he still hailed from Knares- 
borough. 1 

While residing at Knaresborough he had formed a valuable 
acquaintance with Sir Henry and Lady Tuite, an Irish couple, who 
were staying at Harrogate, having left their estate near Mullingar 
in consequence of the disturbed state of West Meath. With 
them he made the tour of the English Lakes, and for several 
years passed a considerable time in various places, never idly, but 
always working as at home. ' I was with them,' he says, ' about two 
months at Bath ; in the next year a longer time at Clifton ; next 
in Wimpole Street, London, and in the following year in Lower 
Grosvenor Street.' Sir Henry he describes as an ardent pedestrian 
when on his travels, and 'as kind-hearted a gentleman as ever 
crossed the Irish Channel, exceedingly good-tempered, and at all 
times the same.' Nicholson did not get on quite so well with her 
ladyship, who induced him to remove to the neighbourhood of 
London, and become tenant of a house and garden at Weybridge, 
adjoining and included in a purchase which the Tuites had made 
there for their own residence. The Nicholsons were to have it rent- 
free, with mutton at cost price killed on the estate, and divers other 
advantages. These privileges, however, either proved illusory or 
were gradually withdrawn, and Nicholson after a while came to the 

1 The following plates after Francis Nicholson are in Walker's Copper Plate Magazine: 

Plate 13. Greenwich Hospital, by W. & J. Walker, I Aug. 1792. 

,, 22. Rivalx Abbey, by W. & J. Walker, i Dec. 1792. 

37. Rippon, by J. Walker, I Aug. 1793. 

49. Malton, by Walker & Storer, I Feb. 1794. 

73. York, by Walker, I Feb. 1795. 

112. Low Harrogate, by J. Walker, I Sep. 1796. 

148. Dropping Well, by J. Walker, I March, 1798. 

151. Edinburgh, by J. Walker, I May, 1798. 

154. Stoke Gifford, by J. Walker, I June, 1798. 

176. King's Weston, by J. Walker, I May, 1799. 

1 80. Bristol, by J. Walker, I July, 1799. 

1 88. Kirkstall Abbey, by J. Walker, I Nov. 1799. 

202. Knaresborough, by J. Walker & J. Grieg, 2 June, 1800. 

235. Castle Howard, by J. Walker, 2 Nov. 1801. 



160 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY UK. Ill 

conclusion that he could live better and cheaper in London itself. 
So he removed to Somers Town, and afterwards to No. 10 Titchficld 
Street, where he had purchased the house in which we find him 
residing at the time of the formation of the Water-Colour Society. 
He was by that time settled in a good practice, and, like others of 
his craft, he gave lessons to amateurs. 

He was one of the draftsmen of his time who most aimed at 
extending and strengthening the scope and power of water-colour 
painting, in which endeavour his early practice in oil was no doubt 
of service to him. His friend Smirke, whose ideas of water-colour 
were limited to stained drawing, thought he was attempting too much, 
and contended that it could never bear a comparison with oil. But 
Nicholson thought otherwise. While engaged, as before mentioned, 
in teaching drawing to Miss Smith, 1 he suggested that, as his pupil 
had made considerable progress, she might derive more advantage 
from making copies of the excellent pictures in her father's gallery 
than from such works as he himself could produce. ' Choose any 
you like,' said Mr. Smith, agreeing to the proposal. Nicholson 
selected ' Rembrandt's Mill.' ' Is it possible,' inquired the possessor, 
' to produce by water-colours anything like the strength and depth 
of that picture ? But if you like it try.' ' We did so,' said Nicholson, 
'and when the copies were finished he was highly pleased, and 
desirous that we should proceed on the plan by going on with 
Wilson's " Celadon and Amelia," which was equally satisfactory to 
him.' An attempt was afterwards made to steal Nicholson's copy 
of the Rembrandt by a stranger, who, while the family were in the 
country, called at Mr. Smith's house in Park Street on a pretended 
commission from the artist to take it away. A similar trick had 
been successful at a neighbour's house in Mayfair. 

The method of giving force and an effect as of impasto to his high 
lights, which was a characteristic part of Nicholson's practice, 2 and 
whereof an account, communicated by him, was published in the 
Transactions of the Society of Arts in 1799, was employed by him 

1 Mr. William Smith of Norwich, warmly aided Lord Dover in the formation of the 
National Gallery. (Cunningham's Lives, vi. : Sir George Beaumont.) 

2 One of the greatest difficulties at that time in producing richness of effect and clearness 
of execution arose from the practice of laying (he lightest tint of a drawing as the first stage, 
and thus deepening the parts by degrees. By the process of Nicholson, the darker colours 
were laid first, next the forms destined to sustain the lights were taken out.' (Papworth 
MS.) 



en. in NICHOLSON 161 

before he settled in London. That he had made some secret of the 
process is shown by the following story, which he tells, of another 
attempt at fraud. While staying with Sir Henry and Lady Tuite in 
Grosvenor Square, he became acquainted with a drawing-master of 
the name of Pierson, who often came to him, and seemed always 
eager to do" him any service in his power, fetching and carrying for 
him anything from or to any part of the town, and being frequently 
with him while he was at work. ' I did not apprehend,' says Nicholson, 
' that he would understand some parts of my practice, such as stopping 
out the lights.' He was therefore left sometimes alone in the room, 
when he took advantage of the opportunity of examining the artist's 
materials, including his stopping-mixture, and then made an imitation 
of his drawing, and took it to the Society of Arts, got a specification, 
entered in his name in their books, and claimed a premium. Barry, 
the Academician, ' ever,' says Nicholson, ' the bitter enemy of quacks 
and jugglers of every description,' happening to be present when this 
claim came on for adjudication, informed the meeting that he was 
acquainted with the inventor, whose works were very different from 
those produced by the present claimant, whom he proceeded to de- 
nounce as an impostor. Judgment was therefore suspended until 
Nicholson should have been informed of what had taken place. Our 
artist, on hearing of it, went to the Adelphi and told Mr. More, the 
secretary, that if the candidate was, as he suspected, William Pierson, 
the man had stolen the little he knew from the informant. ' I am not 
at liberty,' said the secretary, with official caution, ' to give you the 
name ; but, to satisfy my own curiosity, I will look at the entry.' ' I 
stood opposite,' says Nicholson. ' The entry was made in a large 
round hand. I had no difficulty in reading upside down that " William 
Pierson having by great labour and expense invented, &c." Mr. 
More closed the book, saying, " Well, sir, if you are disposed to make 
your claim, send in a specimen of your performance. You may depend 
on having full justice done you." There was no competition, Pierson 
having cut and run on the day of Barry's exposure.' 

This was not, however, the only disciple of whom Nicholson had 
reason to complain. We have seen how, when in Yorkshire, he played 
off against one another his town and country customers ; and how, 
when he was drawing for the Harrogate folk, and his works got scarce 
in London, the town dealers, to sell their copies, fabricated a report 
that he had come into an estate, and was giving up the brush. So, 

M 



162 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. nr 

too, now that he had deserted the country market, and found his chief 
patrons in town, a more injurious rumour was spread in Yorkshire 
with a similar object. The story was that he had taken to drinking' 
and that his works were very inferior to what he had done formerly. 
Nicholson heard this report, and could not imagine how it had arisen ; 
until one of his best friends, Colonel Machell, of Beverley, discovered 
that, since he had left Yorkshire, the frames wherein he used to show 
his drawings at the Harrogate library, which were marked with his 
name, had been utilized by a rogue, who placed his own drawings 
there, pretending that they came from Nicholson, and no doubt ex- 
plaining their inferiority by the above ingenious fiction. This impostor 
was his old pupil, William Tayleure. The ungrateful wretch was now 
settled as a drawing-master at Beverley, where Colonel Machell had 
been very kind and of great service to him. When Nicholson was on 
a visit to the Colonel, he called upon his former pupil, and taking him 
for a walk into the fields, charged him with his dishonesty. The 
culprit turned pale as death, and when he had recovered the power of 
speech, would have stammered out a denial. ' Don't attempt that,' 
said Nicholson. ' My information is derived from Colonel Machell, 
who has been your good friend as well as mine, and is incapable of 
saying anything he cannot prove. However, to show you how little I 
can be affected by such reports, having nothing to do with the country, 
I am at my return to send some drawings to Colonel Machell, and will 
desire that he will permit you to inspect them. I shall be glad if you 
can derive any advantage from them.' He was so bitterly grieved 
that Nicholson had not the heart to reproach him further. Finally, 
the poor fellow himself took to drinking, lost the best part of his 
employment, and died a few years afterwards. 

It was while Nicholson resided in Titchfield Street, but before the 
birth of the Water-Colour Society, that he was again brought into con- 
tact with the Society of Arts, and became the means of checking a 
system which showed that the drawing-masters by this time constituted 
a somewhat powerful clique. The members of the Committee of 
Polite Arts at the Adelphi, having hopelessly differed in opinion as to 
the merits of the works sent in by candidates for the premiums offered 
by the Society, agreed to refer the decision to an artist who had no 
connexion with any of them ; and Nicholson was selected for that 
purpose. He had already had some reason to suspect the purity of 
this Committee's awards. Before this, when he was residing in Somcrs 
Town, he had made several drawings for Barber, afterwards Barber- 



CH. ill NICHOLSON 163 

Beaumont, the miniature painter, with whom he was acquainted. 
Barber ' advised me,' he says, ' to send a drawing by my eldest daughter 
Sophia to the Society of Arts for a premium ; to which I objected 
that she had not sufficient practice to have any chance of gaining one. 
He replied, " I will assure her of that, being one of the Committee of 
Polite Arts." I am persuaded,' adds Nicholson, ' that this juggling 
practice has been carried on from the time when the Society first 
offered premiums, to the present' At the time now referred to, the 
whole of the Committee were drawing-masters, each of whom had a 
natural partiality for the works of his own pupils. Unaware of this 
Nicholson went to an evening meeting, and there observed what is 
sufficiently stated in the following letter, which he wrote to the 
Secretary, Mr. More, the next morning : ' Sir, Having been re- 
quested to attend the Committee of the Fine Arts, I did so yesterday. 
The consideration of Mr. Marchant's report occupying the whole of 
the evening, the subject on account of which I attended was not gone 
into ; but I had an opportunity, by examining the drawings of the 
candidates for premiums in the department of drawing, to observe that 
the Society is subject to great imposition ; and of the worst tendency, 
as it gives to young persons of real merit a very unfavourable and un- 
fair trial, in opposition to those who are not ashamed to send in works 
in which was little of their own. Having had the honour to be 
favourably noticed by the Society on a former occasion, and at the 
time had the pleasure of preventing the gross imposition of a fraudulent 
claim upon it, feeling it as much my duty as it is my wish to expose 
such attempts whenever it may be in my power, I trust this communi- 
cation will not be deemed impertinent. It will rest with the Society 
to devise some method of ascertaining whether the specimens given 
in were really the works of the candidates, several of which I am con- 
vinced in many of their parts they are not.' Nicholson received the 
thanks of the Society, but was desired to substantiate his statement. 
As the result might have been unpleasant in the absence of further 
evidence than his own opinion, he called upon his brother draftsman, 
John Varley, as having a more extensive acquaintance than any 
other person he could apply to, and related the circumstances to him. 
Varley, besides being an excellent artist, was a keen observer of men. 
Taking a mental survey of the profession, he bethought him of a 
popular teacher called Baynes. 1 ' Baynes,' he said, ' has a great many 

1 'James Baynes, water-colour painter, born at Kirkby Lonsdale, April 1766, 

M 2 



164 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

pupils. He's a poor nervous creature ; and I'll charge him so bluntly 
that he will hardly attempt to evade my question.' And off he went 
in search of the supposed culprit. ' Why, Baynes,' said he, when he 
found him, 'you have got me into a sad hobble with the Society of 
Arts. By some means they've discovered that some of the drawings 
sent in by candidates were worked upon by you.' ' How could I 
avoid it ? ' answered Baynes ; ' they were those of my pupils. Besides, 
it is well known to be the practice of the masters.' Varley accom- 
panied Nicholson to the Adelphi on the appointed morning. There 
they found several of the members, with ' the Professor Barry ' among 
them, and the whole of the Committee of the Fine Arts. ' Good 
morning, Mr. Warren,' says Nicholson to the chairman. ' Humph ! ' 
was the answer, as the person addressed turned on his heel. He 
accosted another with the same result. ' What can be the matter ? ' 
thought he, ' and why am I sent to Coventry ? ' The only question 
asked was by Barry, who said, ' How do you know that these are not 
the entire work of_ the candidates ? ' ' By the difference of the 
handling,' answered Nicholson. ' The hand that did this could not 
possibly do that. The first is evidently the work of a beginner. The 
other shows a hand of great practice. It is useless,' added he, ' to 
consider this as a matter of opinion. My friend Mr. Varley can prove 
the truth of what I stated to the Society, and accompanies me here 
for that purpose.' ' Having done that,' he adds, ' we returned home, 
having no further business there.' ' I soon learned,' he continues, ' that 
the whole of the Committee were to a man drawing-masters, and were 
blown up sky high by my letter to Mr. More.' Soon afterwards a 
resolution was entered on the Society's books requiring every candi- 
date to give proof that the drawing sent in was entirely the production 
of the claimant, by his being placed alone in a room and there making 
a drawing or such parts of one as would satisfy the Society that the 
claim was fair. 1 ' This mode of trial,' observes Nicholson, ' is good, but 
how is it to be carried into practice ? It is clear that a set of drawing- 
masters are, of all others, the most unfit to decide, being themselves 
interested. If a member of the Society were competent to do the 
business it might work well, but no artist would undertake so trouble- 
some and thankless an office.' 

had several pupils who gained a name in art. He died 1837.' (Redgrave's 
Dictionary.') 

1 There are points in the foregoing recital that can scarcely fail to recall to the reader's 
mind the evidence in a recent cause clKbre respecting the originality of certain works of 
plastic art. 



i6 5 



CHAPTER IV 

THE VARLEYS ; NATTES ; AND GILPIN 

John Varley A leader in the school Cornelius Varley Of scientific tastes Their birth 
and parentage John's character and early life At Barrow's school Sketches with 
Neale Private theatricals Tossed by a bull Topographic tours and drawings With 
Dr. Monro First studio and patrons Early exhibits Visits to Wales Havell and 
C. Varley's palette J. Varley's first marriage Addresses -J. C. Natles Topographic 
draftsmen Engraved works W. S. Gilpin Drawing-master Birth and family 
Sawrey Gilpin, R.A. Rev. W. Gilpin. 

THE JOHN VARLEY who came to Nicholson's aid in effecting the 
above-mentioned exposure, was also one of his coadjutors in the 
scheme now afoot for a water-colour exhibition. He was about half 
the age of our Yorkshire painter, but was already established in 
London as a water-colour draftsman of good repute. He lived and 
painted during the forty years next to come, and was destined to be 
regarded as a leading member of the school, and to furnish moreover, 
in the soundness of his teaching, the very backbone of its landscape 
art. At present we are concerned with his earlier life only, to the 
time when, in 1804, he and his younger brother, CORNELIUS VARLEY, 
came forward as two more of the six recruits who joined the new 
movement. 

The scientific tastes of the latter, as well as the philosophic way 
in which the former dealt with the methods of his art, prepare us to 
learn that these artists came of intellectual parentage. Their father, 
Richard Varley, ' the first though the younger of the Varleys who 
came from Epworth in Lincolnshire,' ' was at one time settled in 
Yorkshire, where he married and had two sons ; but his wife dying, 
and his circumstances not being prosperous, he travelled to London, 
leaving these two children in the care of his wife's family. Redgrave 
in the Dictionary calls him ' a man of very scientific attainments,' and 
states that he 'became tutor to Lord Stanhope's son.' But this 
account seems rather to belong to his elder brother, Samuel Varley, 

1 Letter from Cornelius Varley, 10 Dec. 1842. J. J. J. MSS. Epworth appears by the 
maps to be really in Notts, about three miles from the border of Lincoln. 



166 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. ill 

who, as he tells us, was a ' manufacturer of philosophical instruments 

and apparatus,' and who, though ' a self-taught man, became the leader 

and lecturer of a society for the investigation of natural science, of 

which Josiah Wedgwood and other distinguished men were members.' 1 

John Varley was one of a family of five, three boys and two girls, 

all born in a large house, where their father resided, at Hackney, 

abutting on the churchyard. John's birthday was the i/th of August, 

1778, and Cornelius's the 2ist of November, 1781. So the one was 

twenty-six, and the other twenty-three, in the eventful year 1804. 

John, from his infancy, was fonder of drawing than of any other 
occupation. He was distinguished among his schoolfellows, not only 
by possessing this talent, but by a degree of muscular strength which 
exceeded that of nearly all other lads of his age. ' The latter qualifi- 
cation gained him both friends and enemies, for he could never see a 
boy tormented or oppressed by another without interfering, and with 
all the ardent generosity of an amiable disposition and great courage 
would fight any boy of his acquaintance in the cause of justice, no 
matter how much older or stronger than himself. The consequence 
was that iu a short time scarce any in the neighbourhood would 
fight him alone ; and once, when, upon some trifling occasion which 
produced a quarrel, three attacked him at once, he maintained the un- 
equal combat for several minutes, and declined any interference, till 
the lookers-on insisted on rescuing him. He then fought his three 
antagonists singly and punished them all.' * 

Young Varley's father, like Nicholson's, would not hear of his 
following his natural inclination. Limning, he said, was a bad trade, 
and none of his children should be artists. But ' 1'homme propose 
et Dieu dispose." All his sons in after years took to the brush ; for 
the third, William Fleetwood Varley, born in 1785, also followed 
the arts, with less of the ability, but all the enthusiasm, of his elder 
brothers. Their sister Elizabeth, too, married the painter Mulready ; 
and the family name and talent have been and continue to be repre- 
sented in younger generations. Under his father's mandate, John 
was accordingly placed, at the age of thirteen, with a silversmith, on 
trial for an apprenticeship. But before the son could be bound 
apprentice, the father died, on the I7th of November, 1791. 

After this event, the family seem to have gone down in the world, 

1 Illustrated London News, 25 Oct. 1873. Obituary notice of Cornelius Varley. 

2 Manuscript lent by the late Edgar J. Varley, John Varley's grandson. 



CH. IV THE VARLEYS ; NATTES ; AND GILPIN 167 

for instead of their remaining in the large house at Hackney, we 
find John Varley residing, a few years later, with his widowed mother 
and his brothers and sisters, in an obscure court, opposite St. Luke's 
Hospital, in Old Street There is a story that, when still a boy, he 
was engaged by a stockbroker named Trower to clean and sweep out 
his office. This Mr. Trower was in the habit of sketching on scraps 
of paper, and throwing them on the ground. Young Varley took to 
copying some of these. By some chance a copy came to the sight of 
his employer, who told the boy it was so well done, that he had 
better take to drawing. And ever after Mr. Trower and his family 
assisted Varley. 

For a short time after his father's death, John Varley was placed 
with a law stationer. It seemed, however, quite impossible that he 
could accustom himself to the regular drudgery of any such occupa- 
tion, and, one fine morning, having expended his slender stock of 
money in paper and pencils, with the exception of three halfpence, 
he set off on his first sketching excursion. His mother saw nothing 
of him for some days, when he returned, with sketches of Hampstead 
and Highgate, absolutely driven home by hunger. 1 ' Mrs. Varley, 
who had more taste for the arts than her husband, regretted that her 
son's inclination had been so long opposed, and now encouraged him 
to draw and study, and gave him all the assistance her humble means 
permitted.' 2 Thus left at liberty, the youth resolved to support him- 
self by his pencil if he could. With determined industry he set to 
work at drawing whatever came in his way, copying figures, making 
sketches of animals, and exhibiting a self-acquired ability which 
delighted his friends and acquaintances, some of whom encouraged 
him to design subjects also, by making an occasional purchase. As 
he was always drawing, his mother used to say, ' When Johnny 
marries, it will be to a paper wife.' 

Eager for practice and instruction, he got some employment, for 
a while, with a portrait painter in Holborn ; and, at the age of fifteen 
or sixteen, he succeeded in placing himself with a teacher of the 
name of Joseph Charles Barrow, who had an evening drawing-school 
twice a week at his house at No. 12 Furnival's Inn Court, Holborn. 

1 Cornelius Varley. MS. The late Mr. E. J. Varley had a water- colour drawing by his 
grandfather, partly washed, and partly in local colour, of a waggon and some houses at Cam 
bridge ; and it has been conjectured that he may have got so far and made this study during 
a truant trip. 

* Cornelius Varley. MS. 



168 THE FOUNDING OK THE SOCIETY UK. II 

Varley was to make himself generally useful, not only during the 
hours of study, as a lower kind of assistant, but also as an errand 
boy and otherwise at odd times. In return, he had the advantage 
of drawing with the other pupils, and he was moreover furnished 
with prints from which he studied, and encouraged to draw from 
nature. Francia, one of Girtin's fellow-sketchers, was, as above men- 
tioned, an assistant here also ; but in a higher capacity than that 
of John Varley. 

' Poor Varley,' writes one who knew him well at this time, ' began 
the world with tattered clothes, and shoes tied with string to keep 
them on. Yet nothing,' he adds, ' could damp the ardour of this 
determined, great man. He was ever with his pencil, either drawing 
from nature, or copying the works of distinguished masters. He rose 
early, drew till it was time to attend his situation, and set off with a 
large ragged portfolio, and a string over his shoulder attached to it 
head first, at a full trot until he arrived at his master's.' ' So great an 
enthusiast I never, in the whole of my long practice, beheld.' 

The writer of the above was John Preston Neale, a fellow-artist, 
who, though about seven years his senior, did not take to the 
profession himself until a later period. He is best known as an archi- 
tectural topographic draftsman for engraved works. 1 Neale ' began 
life as a clerk in the Post-Omce,' 2 but seems to have spent his leisure 
in the pursuit of tastes inherited from his father, who painted insects, 
'It was early in March 1796,' he writes, 'that I went on Sunday 
morning to Hornsey wood to sketch and to collect insects.' There 
he met with John Varley, sketching likewise. They entered into 
conversation, and so commenced a friendly intercourse, which lasted 
during their joint lives. 

Thus thrown together, they became frequent companions. Neale, 
however, could not inoculate Varley with his taste for entomology, 
the energies of the latter being otherwise directed. But he persuaded 
him to join in a project for a work on natural history, of ambitious 
dimensions. It was to be in royal quarto, and they called it the 
Picturesque Cabinet of Nature. It was to consist of landscapes, 
beasts, birds, insects, flowers, &c., &c. Varley was to make all the 

1 He made drawings for the following works : History and Antiquities of the Abbey 
Church at Westminster (1818-23), Views of the most interesting Collegiate and Parochial 
Clntrches (1824-25), Views of the Scats of the Nobility and Gentry of the United Kingdom 
(1st series, 1822-24, 2n( l series, 1829). He died in 1847, aged 76. (Redgrave's Dictionary.} 

2 Redgrave. 



CH. IV THE VARLEYS ; NATTES ; AND GILPIN 169 

landscape drawings ; and Neale to etch them, as well as to make all 
the others and colour the plates. The first number was produced, 
and consisted of three prints, horses, cows, and an ass. It was 
published on the 1st of September, 1796. But we hear nothing of 
No. 2, or of any landscape by Varley. 

Neale gives the following graphic description of one of his 
sketching excursions with his young companion in this same year. 
It was on a fine Sunday morning in the spring of 1796, that John 
Varley and he sallied forth in search of the picturesque. ' About 7 
A.M. we reached the private Mad-house at Hoxton, and as the foliage 
was beautiful round its banks, we sat down to copy their beauties. 
We had been seated but a short period, when we began to frighten 
each other by tales regarding the unhappy persons confined within 
this sad abode. Suddenly a terrible rush was heard among the trees 
and bushes. Having previously raised our fears to highest pitch, we 
stayed not to inquire the cause ; but scrambling up, made a precipitate 
retreat to the middle of the field, where we stopped to watch the 
supposed maniacs that were making their escape. We discovered our 
mistake ; the noise being occasioned by some men, who were robbing 
the garden, falling from a tree, and who were equally surprised with 
ourselves, supposing us placed there to watch their movements. 
Having been thus satisfied, we resumed our seats, finished our 
sketches, and proceeded to Tottenham, where we commenced sketching 
the church, I taking my station by the side of a table monument, and 
Varley close to me. To give my friends some idea of our feelings at 
this time as young artists, it will be only necessary to state, that we 
saw the people going to public worship : in the morning, in the 
afternoon, and in the evening, they found us there. So exact were 
our notions, that in colouring my sketch I copied the colours and 
even counted the bricks, minutely attending to every other particular. 
During the day we subsisted upon a crust of bread, and water, the 
latter of which we obtained from a neighbouring pump. On another 
occasion we drew and coloured, with much labour and fatigue, Stoke 
Newington Church. The colouring of my sketch,' he adds with 
pardonable pride, ' Varley has often referred to in later life as producing 
something very good.' 

Neale often visited John Varley at his mother's humble abode ; 
and once they got up a private play, hiring a room for the purpose 
at the corner of her court, in Old Street. Canvas, and a variety 



1 7 o THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. ni 

of things necessary for the performance, were bought, and Varley and 
he set about painting the scenes. They had vast trouble, he tells us, 
to produce the proper effect where an oval looking-glass was repre- 
sented between two windows. The pieces were ' George Barnwell ' 
and ' Miss in her Teens ; ' and the following was the cast : 



For George Barmvell 

George B. . . J. P. Neale 
Freeman . . T. Bridges 



F"or Miss in her Teens 

Billy Fribble . J. P. Neale 
Major . . W. Ashton 
Miss in her Teens Miss Ashton 



Uncle . . . W. Ashton 
Blunt. V . J. Varley 
Milwood . .Miss Ashton 
Lucy . . . Miss Varley 

The performances, as usual, went off with great applause ; but the 
subscriptions fell short of expectation and also of expenses. Neale 
had to endure much dunning from the landlady for her two guineas 
charged for the room ; and the theatre was broken up. 

About this time John Varley was attacked, in ' Old Broad Street 
Road,' and tossed, by a bull, and much hurt. When, in after life, he 
turned, as is well known, so much of his attention to astrology, he 
declared that this was one of the casualties to which he had been 
specially liable from his nativity. It is to be presumed that the 
constellation Taurus had something to do with it. 

His teacher, Barrow, must have thought well of Varley's talent, 
for he took him to Peterborough on a sketching expedition. The 
result was that the pupil made so excellent a view of the cathedral, 
that the master was lost sight of, and young Varley, on the strength 
of it, regarded as the artist who was sure to succeed. The ' View of 
Peterborough Cathedral ' which thus brought him into notice was 
exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798. It was a finished pencil- 
drawing made by him after his return, from sketches on the spot. 

He now began to make acquaintances among successful members 
of his profession, and patrons of art, and rapidly advanced in his 
practice as a landscape draftsman. In 1798 or 1799 he travelled in 
North Wales with George Arnald (afterwards A.R.A.), a landscape 
painter of merit ; and, either at the same time or separately, with 
the drawing-master Baynes, whose cleverness in embellishing his 
pupil's works we have already been made acquainted with. His first 
tour in Wales, a pedestrian one, was the foundation of his fame. He 



CH. IV THE VARLEYS ; NATTES ; AND GILPIN * 171 

then first beheld the class of subjects that had the greatest attraction 
for him, and to the end of his life chiefly inspired the landscape com- 
positions for which he became celebrated. 

It was at this time that his talent attracted the admiration of Dr. 
Monro, who, in 1799 or 1800, took him to his country house at Fetcham 
to make coloured sketches in the neighbourhood, particularly about 
Box Hill. He was also one of the class of students that met at the 
Doctor's in Adelphi Terrace, 1 and, being three years or so younger 
than Girtin and Turner, must have come fully within the influence of 
their great example. For the advantage of being near this valued 
seat of art learning, John Varley, at Dr. Monro's suggestion, came, in 
the year 1800, that of Girtin's marriage, into that painter's old familiar 
neighbourhood, and took up his abode with his brother Cornelius, in 
Charles Street, Covent Garden. 2 Cornelius had been living with his 
uncle Samuel, the instrument maker. But when he joined his brother, 
he commenced the study of art under his guidance. Here the good 
Doctor visited John Varley, was delighted with his progress, in which 
he took great interest, standing by while he drew, and dictating the 
tints he should use. Girtin's patrons, the Earl of Essex and ' Prince ' 
Lascelles, also patronized Varley, and visited him in his new studio. 

The Messrs. Redgrave say 3 that he made another visit to Wales 
in this year, 1800. He had followed up the success of his first drawing 
at Somerset House by exhibiting four works there in 1799, and from 
that time till 1804, when he became a member of the 'old' (then 
new) Society, he had from three to six on the walls yearly. They 
were mostly views in Wales. That of Cader Idris, at the South 
Kensington Museum, in the early tinted manner, is very likely one 
which hung in the ' Anti-Room ' in 1801. A few topographic plates 
of these early dates bear the name of J. Varley, as : ' Valle Crucis 
Abbey' (1800), 'Stilton' (i Dec., 1800), 'Monmouth' (1801), all 
engraved by J. Walker ; and ' Chepstow ' ( 1 801 ), in Beauties of England 
and Wales, xi. 175. He also began to take pupils. In 1801 Mrs. 
Schutz, to whose daughters he had given lessons, invited the two 
Varleys to her house at Gillingham in Norfolk. Cornelius remained 

1 Redgrave's Century, \. 493. 

' This is stated on the written authority of Cornelius Varley himself. But John Varley's 
address in the Royal Academy Catalogue of 1800 is 33 Craven Street, Hoxton, and in those 
from 1801 to 1804 is z Harris Place, Pantheon, Oxford Street. That in 1799 is 12 FurnivaPs 
Inn Court ; that is to say, at Barrow's. 

3 Ul'i supra. 



172 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

there, and in the same year made sketches in Suffolk, of churches 
and gentlemen's residences. 1 John went also to the Earl of Essex's 
at Hampton Court, Hertfordshire. About this time he made the 
acquaintance of Wilson Lowry, the mechanical engraver, a man of 
varied scientific attainments, whose daughter afterwards became the 
painter's second wife. 

In 1802 he visited North Wales again, in company with Cornelius, 
and with Thomas Webster, the architect of the lecture-room at the 
Royal Institution. 2 There they fell in with several brother artists, 
Joshua Cristall and young William Havell among the number, both 
to become distinguished members of the Water-Colour Society. At 
Dolgelly, where they met the latter, they also encountered a large 
party, comprising Mr. and Mrs. Lovvry, Arthur Aikin and his sister 
Lucy the historian, Mr. Knight, and Mr. Donovan, who were making 
a geological tour through North Wales. In the next year, 1803, 
Cornelius Varley also began to exhibit drawings at Somerset House ; 
and he went off to Wales again with Cristall, and made many 
drawings there. They met Havell at Ross, and the three pursued 
their journey together. While sketching in the market-place Varley 
excited Havell's envy by using a sheet of ass's skin for a palette. 
The latter, being burdened with the weight of an earthen palette, was 
charmed with the lightness of his friend's contrivance. Varley 
thereupon pulled out another sheet and gave it to him. This so 
delighted Havell that he stuck his earthen palette up in the market- 
place and pelted it with stones until he had broken it to pieces, 
much to the amusement of a crowd of spectators. 3 John Varley 
never made a sketching tour with Havell. He went that year into 
Yorkshire and Northumberland, and is said to have gone also about 
this time to Devonshire and to other parts of England. 4 

In the same year, 1803, he married his first wife, whose maiden 
name was Gisborne. One of her sisters became the wife of Copley 
Fielding, and another of Muzio Clementi, of musical celebrity. 

Such were the antecedents of John and Cornelius Varley prior 
to their joining in the movement of the water-colour painters for a 



1 Some of the sketches of this year were sold by Christie, 15 July, 1875, among his 
remaining works after his death. 

2 Among the drawings sold after C. Varley's death was a ' Design made for the Royal 
Institution.' (Lot 146.) 

3 J. J. J. MS. ex relatione C. Varley. 4 Art Union, January 1843. 



CH. IV THE VARLEYS; NATTES ; AND GILPIN 173 

gallery of their own. The address of John Varley given in the first 
of the Society's catalogues is 1 5 Broad Street, Golden Square, and 
that of Cornelius Varley, 6 Hanover Street, Hanover Square. 

Two of the six recruits remain to be accounted for. They were 
/ C. Nattes and W. S. Gilpin. 

JOHN CLAUDE NATTES was a topographic draftsman, who 
worked in the tinted manner, had exhibited at the Royal Academy 
since 1782, and was engaged in the production of the following 
series of works, for which he travelled and made sketches : Versailles, 
Paris, et St.-Denis, folio, forty coloured aquatints chiefly by J. Hill, 
dated 1804 to 1809; Hibernia Depicta, 1802; Scotia Depicta, obi. 
4to, fifty etchings by Jas. Fittler, A.R.A., dated 1801 to 1804 ; Select 
Views of Bath, Bristol, Malvern, Cheltenham, and Weymouth, \ 805 ; 
Bath and its Environs Illustrated, folio, thirty coloured aquatints by 
J. Hill, dated 1804, 1805. In the Beauties of England and Wales 
there are ' Durham Cathedral ' (frontispiece) and ' View in New- 
castle,' drawn by J. R. Thompson and J. C. Smith after sketches by 
J. C. Nattes. 

He is said by Redgrave to have been born in England about 
1765, and to have been pupil of an Irish landscape-painter of no 
great character called Hugh Primrose Neale, who spent much of his 
time in Italy, enjoyed the sobriquet of the ' Irish Claude,' ' as well as 
the patronage of Lord Palmerston (until he lost the latter by mis- 
conduct), and after turning Methodist preacher, died about 1784, 
Nattes's address was No. 5 Woodstock Street, Bond Street. 

It was more by his connexion with art than by his ability as a 
draftsman that WILLIAM SAWRY GILPIN came to be welcomed as 
an adherent to the cause. Up to this time we find only one ex- 
hibited work of his, namely a ' Park Scene ' at the Royal Academy in 
1800. But he was in great practice as a drawing-master, for which, 
according to Nicholson, he was not a little indebted to his name 
and family influence, through which he had formed an extensive 
connexion. 

He was descended from Bernard Gilpin, the divine. His father 
was Sawrey * Gilpin, an animal painter of much repute in his day, 

1 Whether the son's baptismal name was hence derived is matter for conjecture. 

2 In Watts's Views there is one of ' Broughton Tower, Lancashire, the seat of John 
Gilpin Sawrey, Esq.' 



I 7 4 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY UK. in 

who came from Carlisle, had been patronized by the Duke of 
Cumberland in the old days of the Sandbys, had been president of 
the Incorporated Society, and in 1797 been made a full member 
of the Royal Academy, where he had exhibited since 1786. The 
son, William Sawrey Gilpin, was born in 1762. 

More closely associated- with the branch of art professed by the 
son is the name of his uncle, the Rev. William Gilpin, Vicar of Boldre 
in the New Forest, an amateur artist well known for his many 
writings on the theory and characteristics of landscape and pic- 
turesque beauty, generally illustrated with slight aquatinted sketches 
by his own hand, some, however, being by his brother the R.A. 
His original sketches were sold by him at Christie's in 1802 for the 
endowment of his parish school, and fetched i,S6o/. William Gilpin's 
writings, 1 judging by their sale, were popular in his day, and no 
doubt contributed to the more generalized study of the picturesque, 
which at the end of the last century was rapidly superseding the 
taste for dry topography, and was in a great measure due to the 
awakened interest of amateurs like Gilpin in landscape art. In 1804, 
before the younger Gilpin, in whose Christian name his father's and 
uncle's were united, joined our embryo Society, William Gilpin in 
his eightieth year had joined the great majority, and Sawrey Gilpin 
had just attained the age of seventy. 

1 The following is believed to be a nearly complete list of William Gilpin's works : 
Tour down the Wye, 1782 (another edition, 1789). Northern Tour, 2 vols., 1788. 
Scottish Tottr, 2 vols., 1789 (another edition, 1792). Forest Scenery, 2 vols., 1791 (other 
editions, 1794 and 1879). An Essay on Prints, with Accounts of Engravers, 8vo, 1792. 
Essay on Picturesqtie Beauty, j 794. Western Tour, 1 798. (Sale Catalogue of Drawings, 
1802.) The following were published after his death: Southern Tour, 1804. Essay on 
Sketching, 1804. Eastern Tour, 1809. Practical Illustration of the Day, representing 
various effects of Landscape Scenery, from Morning till Night, 30 plates, coloured like the 
original drawings, roy. 410, 1811. 



'75 



CHAPTER V 
THE SOCIETY FOUNDED BARRET AND CRISTALL 

Meeting at Stratford Coffee-house The Society as first founded Gilpin first president Six 
more members George Barret Birth and parentage Early works Exhibits at the Royal 
Academy Morning and evening effects Frugal industry -Joshua Cristall Classic taste 
Birth, parentage, and early life At Rotherhithe Taste for poetry fostered by mother 
At Blackheath Pollard of Morden and his Virgil Father's opposition At Mr. 
Ewson's Refuses china trade At Turner's factory, Brosely Mary Wollstonecraft 
Father ruined Tries china-painting Hard life Finds a home at Mr. Clayton's Print- 
works at Old Ford Short rations Lives with sister Tries engraving Student at 
the Royal Academy Walk to Rome proposed Practises water-colours At Dr. Monro's 
Early works Paints on a panorama George Dyer Sketching tours Adventure with 
Welsh miners Exhibits at the Royal Academy Addresses. 

THESE ten water-colour painters, Wells, Shelley, Hills, and Pyne 
(the four original conspirators), with Pocock, Nicholson, the two 
Varleys, Nattes, and Gilpin, met together at the Stratford Coffee- 
house in Oxford Street, on the 3Oth of November, 1804, and there 
and then united themselves into an associated body, drew up a set 
of rules, and formally assumed the title of THE SOCIETY OF 
PAINTERS ! IN WATER-COLOURS. It was to consist of ' no more 
than twenty-four members.' They must be of ' moral character ' 2 and 
' professional reputation,' and ' resident in the United Kingdom.' For 
the direction of its affairs a president and other officers were to be 
elected annually ; and there was to be a committee, with the secretary 
as an ex-officio member, the remaining seats being filled by all the 
members of the Society in succession. Out of the profits of the 
exhibition, should there be any after payment of expenses, a sum was 
to be set apart for expenses of the following year, and the residue 
divided among the members in sums proportioned to the drawings sent 

1 It had been a question among the founders, says Pyne (Somerset House Gazette, ii. 45), 
' whether the novel term painters in water-colours might not be considered by the world of 
taste to savour of assumption.' 

2 In the Royal Academy the instrument of institution also required its members to be 
'men of fair moral character' as well as artists of distinction. (Sandby's Hist. R.A., 
\. 281-2 ; and see ii. 36.) 



176 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

and retained for exhibition. It is important to bear in mind this 
last provision. 

They then proceeded to elect officers for the ensuing year. 
Gilpin's position and connexions seemed to confer upon him a 
special qualification for that of president, and he was accordingly 
installed in the chair. Shelley was made treasurer, and Hills secretary, 
The first committee-men were Nicholson, Pocock, Pyne, and Wells ; 
and Nattes and the two Varleys remained to represent the body of 
the Society. It was not, however, long, when the Society had thus 
assumed a definite shape, before the number of ordinary members 
was augmented by the addition of the following six, most of whom 
were artists of great merit and distinction. They were George Barret, 
Joshua Cristall, John Glover, William Havell, James Hohvorthy, 
and Stephen Francis Rigaud. The above-named sixteen members 
constituted the Society at the date of its first exhibition in 1805. 

Before assigning to them their due rank therein, what is known 
of the respective antecedents and previous standing in the pro- 
fession of the last-mentioned six artists must first be related. 

Something has already been told of the early surroundings of 
GEORGE BARRET ; how his father was one of the founders of the 
Royal Academy, as he himself was one of the first members of the 
Water-Colour Society ; and how, being a landscape painter himself, 
with a strong feeling for English rural scenery, he was qualified to 
transmit to his son a valuable inheritance of art-training. It was all 
the wealth he could leave him. Imprudent in money matters, he 
became insolvent, and died in 1784, leaving a widow ' and a large 
family wholly unprovided for. George was born in 1767 (or the 
beginning of the year after) in Orchard Street, Oxford Street, where 
his father then resided. About ten years before the elder Barret's death, 
the family removed to Westbourne Green, Paddington, 2 then quite a 
rural place, to get purer air, as the father suffered from asthma. 

George Barret was about seventeen when he and his brothers and 
sisters were left orphans, and had to support themselves by their 
own exertions. Two of them, besides himself, took to the practice of 

1 A pension of y>l. a year was awarded by the Royal Academy to Barret's widow in 
1802. (Sandby's History of the Royal Academy, \. 262.) 

2 In an appeal on behalf of the younger Barret's family, issued after his death, as an 
advertisement in the Art Union for June 1842, there occurs a statement that his early days 
were passed at the Manor House, Paddington, ' the residence of Barret's father in his 
prosperity.' See, infra, a reference to this house in connection with the life of Cristall. 



CH. v THE SOCIETY FOUNDED BARRET AND CRISTALL 177 

art. James Barret exhibited landscapes in water and body colours, 
occasionally at Somerset House, between 1785 and 1800. And Miss 
M. Barret became a miniature painter, exhibited there in 1797-1799, 
and, a quarter of a century after, joined the Water-Colour Society. 
But George was by far the most distinguished for artistic talent. 

Little seems to be known of his professional progress in these 
early years. He must have had, as he had more or less through life, 
a hard task to support himself by his pencil, before the appearance of 
his first exhibited work, which seems to have been in 1800,' when he 
was already about thirty-two years of age. In that year he had at 
the Academy ' A Rocky Scene ' and ' Morning.' 

To the class of subjects indicated in the latter title he was always 
partial. He used to say that he gained more by studying in the early 
morning and the evening than at any other time. His habit was to 
go to the same spot and watch the sunrise, morning after morning, 
making slight memoranda. He used to wait until the effect appeared 
that suited him, and go to the same sketch over and over again at the 
same hour on different days, working only as long as the particular 
effect lasted, under which he had commenced his study. 2 This mode 
of practice he continued through life, and the titles of his works show 
how long and how fondly he adhered to his favourite aspect of nature. 
Pyne, when mentioning, in 1824, a drawing in his possession of a 
'Wood Scene,' by Barret, executed about 1799, writes as follows: 
' We have watched the progress of this artist, we may almost say step 
by step, from the period when he commenced his career. Mr. Barret 
began early to study from nature, and to copy trees, banks, weeds, 
&c., with careful identity. His early coloured drawings were simple 
in effect, and chaste in colouring.' 3 

Unlike his father, the younger George Barret appears to have been 
a man of simple tastes, and frugal in his habits, while he was also 
industrious and devoted to his art. But he made so modest an 
estimate of the value of his own work, that he was always poor. 

In 1801 and 1802 Barret again had one or two works at Somerset 

1 Graves's list and Redgrave's Dictionary. The following pictures, of earlier date, are, 
however, attributed to him in the Century of Painters, i. 489, exhibited in 1795 : 'Gentle- 
man's Seat in Yorkshire;' ' Scene on Loch Lomond;' in 1796: 'Lord Grantley's Seat 
(horses by Sawrey Gilpin) ; ' ' Scene in the Highlands (with portraits by Reinagle and 
horses by Gilpin).' The subjects would have pointed rather to the authorship of Barret, 
R. A. , had he not been dead more than ten years. 

* J. J. J. ex rdatione Dorrell. ' Somerset House Gazette, ii. 47. 

N 



i;8 THE FOUiNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. ill 

House ; but otherwise his name does not appear in exhibition 
catalogues until the Water-Colour Society opened its gallery. 

JOSHUA CRISTALL was another artist of refined quality who joined 
the Society at its commencement. Barret and he were nearly of an 
age ; and he, like Barret, was little known to the public by exhibited 
works. One drawing only had he had at Somerset House, a portrait, 
hung in the Library in 1803, and not likely to have attracted much 
attention. 1 But, like Barret too, he possessed that high sense of ideal 
beauty to which has been given, perhaps too exclusively, the name of 
classic taste. 2 And, like him, he combined a gentle simplicity of 
character with an earnest love of his art. 

Cristall was essentially a figure painter, though he excelled too in 
the combination of figures with landscape. In this, and in his choice 
of poetic subjects, as well as in his style of treating those of a more 
familiar kind, he was somewhat of an anomaly in the water-colour 
school. ' There was perceptible in his early designs,' says Pyne, ' a 
largeness of parts, and a greatness of execution, that called for more 
powerful space for the display of such rare excellences than the 
limited scope of water-colours could afford ; unless, indeed, he had been 
sufficiently adventurous to have revived the art of body-colours, and 
attempted designs on the magnificent scale of the celebrated cartoons. 
We never recur,' observes the same writer, ' to the works of this classic 
genius, but we regret that he did not originally direct his fine talents 
for composition to the profession of sculpture, or to painting in oil.' * 
But the circumstances of poor Cristall's life were such as to leave him 
a very narrow choice as to his branch of the profession. He had to 
struggle, not only with want of means and connexion, but against the 
opposition of parents and friends ; and the years which should have 
been devoted to his training in art were expended in the endeavour 
to obtain the education he needed. Being thus deprived of the advan- 
tage of early instruction and practice, he was constrained to acquire the 
mechanical parts of his art, at a time of life when he ought to have 
been engaged in applying them. Never, to the end of his days, did 
he feel the confidence due to a complete technical mastery of his craft. 

1 No. 746. Portrait of Mr. G. Adams. 

2 Since justness of proportion, in relations of form and quantity, is the leading aim of 
the so-called ' classic ' style, the mathematician might, one would think, put in as fair a 
claim as the scholar's to a share in the nomenclature. 

' Somerset House Gazette, i. 195. 



CH. v THE SOCIETY FOUNDED BARRET AND CRISTALL 179 

Cristall was a son of a Scotch sea-captain, ' Joseph Alexander 
Cristall, an Arbroath man,' ' who before the artist's birth had hailed 
from Cornwall. There he married a widow of Penzance, who in 
course of time, and in addition to one ' incumbrance ' by her former 
husband, 2 presented him with three sons and two daughters, not too 
amply provided for. Joshua is said to have been born in 1767? either 
at Camborne in Cornwall, or, according to another account, in the 
heart of London city, not far from the shadow of Aldgate Pump. 
Be that as it may, his parents lived at Rotherhithe 4 during part at 
least of his early boyhood. The father, much at sea, trading princi- 
pally to Turkey, though he had at one time and another been all 
over the world, left the children's education chiefly in their mother's 
hands. It was well that he did so, for she paid the school fees out 
of a small separate income of her own, which appears to have been 
a bone of contention between husband and wife. The father was 
of an extremely jealous disposition, and his time ashore was usually 
a period of trouble and discomfort in the family. Besides this, the 
mother was a capable person, of a nature befitting her Cornish 
descent strong, quick, active, and persevering, and, moreover, a 
woman of education and taste. Some of the above qualities were 
transmitted to two at least of her children the boy Joshua and the 
elder girl. 5 Both were remarkable for natural talent, quick per- 
ception, and great perseverance, as well as for good taste and 
refinement of feeling. Cristall in after life seldom spoke of his 
father, but described his mother as a ' strong-minded woman.' And 
he was particularly attached to his elder sister. They studied 
together as children, and hand in hand did they daily walk to London 
and back for their schooling when the family lived at Rotherhithe. 

1 Dictionary of National Biography. 

2 J. J. J. MSS. ex relations Miss E. Cristall. Messrs. Redgrave (Century of Painters, 
i. 508) say that she was a daughter of Mr. John Batten, a merchant of Penzance ; and Mr. 
W. H. Tregellas (Diet. Nat. Biog.) states that her name was Ann Batten Cristall, and that 
she was born in 1745 ; but neither mentions a previous marriage. 

3 Biographers concur in giving this date. But Cristall himself, in a letter in August 
1839, writes that he has then 'commenced his 7 1st year,' which would seem to place his 
birth in 1769. 

1 Mr. Tregellas (itlii supra") believes that, besides being owner of a trading vessel, J. A. 
Cristall was ' a shipbreaker, having yards at Rotherhithe, Penzance, and Fowey.' In the 
New Annual Directory 1800, and the Post Office Directory 1806, we find the name and 
address ' Alexander Cristall, Sail, Mast, & Block-maker, 297 Rotherhithe.' 

5 Mr. Tregellas (ubi supra} tells us that she wrote some Poetical Sketches, published in 
1795, and that both she and her sister were engaged in tuition. 

N 2 



iSo THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

The artist showed his natural bent in very early days, even when 
he was still ' in petticoats. He used his mother's scissors to cut out 
the objects around him in paper, which induced her to furnish him 
with a pencil, and he used it to aid his amusements. When he was 
taken to the theatre he remembered the scenes and copied them, to 
act them over again ; and thus on all occasions, for pleasure, the 
pencil was resorted to.' ' His scanty pocket money went to purchase 
Spanish liquorice, which he employed as a water-colour to adorn 
the whitewash of his bedroom walls with spirited designs. 2 An 
early fondness for music accompanied this love of drawing. In 
another way, too, his mother was able to aid in the cultivation 
of his taste. Endowed with a wonderfully retentive memory, she 
used when he was a little boy to recite to him passages from the 
poets, Shakspere being her particular delight. Joshua was always 
her favourite child ; and great was her disappointment when his 
godfather, from whom she had expected help on his commencing 
life, died rich, but left him nothing. 

While Cristall was still a boy his parents removed to Blackheath, 
where they lived for twenty-one years. But it was only during a 
small portion of that term that he remained a member of the 
domestic circle. He was sent for a short time to a school at 
Greenwich. Meanwhile he had another opportunity of improving 
his mind. There was then, as there is now, on the south side of the 
heath, a quiet old brick building of a substantial kind, with pleasant 
grounds about it, where ' decayed Turkey merchants ' rested after 
their labours, and passed the evenings of their lives in comfort and 
tranquillity. It was called Morden College, after its founder, Sir 
John Morden, who gave its first benefaction in memory of a fortune 
made at Aleppo. It was probably through Captain Cristall's con- 
nexion with the trade to the Levant that his son came to make the 
acquaintance of a pensioner there, who took a great fancy to the 
lad. His name was Pollard. He had a folio copy of Dryden's 
translation of Virgil, from which he would read aloud to his young 
friend, and thus helped to develop the poetic sentiment already 
aroused in him by his mother's recitals. Finally, he made him a 
present of the precious volume, which Cristall treasured through 
life. Mr. Jenkins makes a memorandum that on the 2oth of May, 
1851, Miss Elizabeth Cristall showed him the book with its quaint 

1 Miss E. Cristall. 2 Century of Painters, i. 508. 



CH. V THE SOCIETY FOUNDED BARRET AND CKISTALL 181 

old plates, and the names 'William Pollard' and 'Joshua Cristall ' 
inscribed within. She had then survived her brother, and was an 
old lady turned eighty, but could read it, as well as work, without 
glasses. 

These days of springtide hope were all too short. When the 
time came to launch the young man into the world, there arose the 
old familiar contest between a son's natural longing and a parent's 
unsympathetic will. Cristall's father, like Nicholson's and Varley's, 
had a dread of the arts, and looked upon the profession of a painter 
as a sure road to penury. Bred himself to mercantile pursuits, he 
was wholly for trade. So Joshua was placed with a Mr. Ewson, of 
Aldgate, who did a good business in china and glass. But the mind 
of young Cristall ran upon higher art than tea-cups and tumblers. 
It happened that the way in which he exercised his pencil became 
a means of introduction to the favour of his employers. Mrs. Ewson, 
having no children, had set her affections upon a dog, a rough 
water-spaniel. This pet of his mistress's served Cristall for a model. 
He made an excellent drawing of it, which so struck Mr. Ewson's 
fancy that he had it framed and hung up during his wife's absence 
as a surprise to her on her return home. The result was highly 
successful. Not only was Mrs. Ewson delighted with the portrait, 
but the draftsman became a prime favourite with the worthy couple. 
So much so, indeed, that, had Cristall been of his father's way of 
thinking, his fortune would from that time have been as good as 
made. For the Ewsons' was a lucrative concern, and, both of them 
dying soon after, it was offered gratuitously to the young artist. 

But Cristall could not make up his mind to abandon thus all 
hope of becoming a painter, and refused the offer. Not that he had 
any visible prospect of attaining his desire. He had no means at 
his disposal, and was again obliged to accept temporary employment 
in the service of trade. It was possibly through connexions made 
in the Aldgate business that he obtained a situation at Turner's 
celebrated china factory, near Broseley in Shropshire. How he com- 
ported himself there, and what were his wishes and intentions at this 
time, may in some measure be inferred from the following extracts 
from two letters of serious and judicious advice, written to him by 
the celebrated Mary Wollstonecraft ; who appears from their internal 
evidence to haye been a kind and considerate friend, both to him and 
to his sister. These letters are believed to have been written both in 



182 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. ill 

one year. The date 1793, or thereabouts, has been assigned to them, 
but it seems moie likely that it was three or four years earlier. 

' To Mr. Cristall, at Mr. Turner's China Manufactory, near Broscly, 

Salop. 

' London : March igth. 

' . . . I think you ingenious, yet I am afraid that you are too 
sanguine in your expectations of succeeding as an artist. Besides 
abilities, a happy concurrence of circumstances is necessary to enable a 
painter to earn a livelihood ; and many years of anxiety and painful 
industry must be passed, before a man of superior talents can look 
with any certainty for to-morrow's subsistence. You admire Mr. 
Home's picture ; yet he was obliged to leave the kingdom because 
he could not get employment. 1 And Mr. F., 2 with his original genius 
and uncommon diligence, had a very precarious support till the 
Shakespear plan commenced. In short, I could mention many other 
circumstances ; but it appears unnecessary, for you will not put 
yourself on a par with Mr. Home, I am sure. However, my argu- 
ments are not brought forward to discourage you from following in 
some degree your bent. I only wish to caution you against the 
headstrong ardour of youth. Pursue your studies. Practise as 
much as you can ; but do not think of depending on painting for a 
subsistence before you know the first rudiments of the art. I know 
that you wish to be the friend and protector of your amiable sister, 
and hope no inconsiderate act or thoughtless mode of conduct will 
add to her cares, for her comfort very much depends on you. I find 
Mr. Turner intends to send you to travel for him very soon. This 
will in every respect be a great advantage to you. You will see the 
country, form connections, and have more leisure to improve. Pray 
let me hear from you soon and tell me what you intend to do, and I 
will candidly give you my opinion ; and, as I have had more ex- 
perience than you, it may be useful to you. I now write in a hurry 
because the post is going, but I wish I could forcibly represent to 
you the necessity of following your inclinations with caution. A 

1 Robert Home was a brother of Sir Everard Home, the anatomist, and a pupil of 
Angelica Kauffman's. After painting portraits in Dublin and exhibiting his works there and 
in London, he went to India, was appointed court-painter to the King of Oude, and then 
made a fortune by his profession. He chiefly depicted military subjects and state cere- 
monials. (Redgrave's Dictionary.} 

* Fuseli, R.A. He painted eight or nine subjects for Boydell's Shakspere Gallery. 



CH. V THE SOCIETY FOUNDED BARRET AND CRISTALL 183 

man's character is of the greatest importance in any line ; and if you 
determine to leave Mr. Turner when your time expires, I hope you 
will be careful not to quarrel with him. . . . How do you come on with 
your Music and Drawing? You scarcely know what industry is re- 
quired to arrive at a degree of perfection in the Fine Arts, and how 
dreadful it is to plunge into the world without friends or acknowledged 
abilities. I have lately made some inquiries, and I think that it 
would be next to madness for you to launch out before you made any 
preparatory steps. London is not now paved with gold, and a false 
step in the beginning of life frequently throws a gloomy cloud over 
the fairest hopes. If you determine to become a painter, declare 
your intention to your master, father, and friends in a manly manner ; 
when you have courage to do so, and act with firmness instead of 
rashness, I shall begin to think that you have some chance to succeed. 
A weak man may be rash, but only a strong understanding can enable 
a youth to act with firmness. Should I perceive such strength of 
mind in you, I shall suppose that you follow the impulse of nature, 
and are not led away by unprincipled wishes, wild desires which make 
you selfishly forget your sister's peace of mind and your own future 
advantage. Virtue is self-denial. If you cannot bear some present 
inconvenience, you are a common man and will never rise to any 
degree of eminence in anything you undertake. I am yours, 

'M. W.' 
The second letter is in a like strain. 

' To Mr. Cristall, Caugliley, near Brosely, Salop. 

' London : December 9th. 

' Your sister has, I hope, long since informed you that my silence 
was not an intentional slight, but the natural consequence of various 
circumstances. My time is fully employed, and when I cannot 
attend to the pursuits which on every account occupy my mind, I am 
not in a humour to write. I want air and exercise. Indeed I 
am grown a wretched correspondent, when neither duty nor business 
impels me. I am sorry to hear that you are yet unsettled, halting 
between two opinions. You ought resolutely to determine on the 
part you mean to act in life, and adhere to your determination. If 
you waver much longer, you will spend your most vigorous days in 
childish wishes, and, instead of being useful to your sisters, become 
a burden to yourself. Determine like a man whether Drawing is to 



184 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

be the business or amusement of your future life ; and banish vain 
icgrets if you ever intend to make a respectable figure in the world. 
With respect to music, I would by all means have you cultivate your 
taste. When nature gives a propensity, it ought not to be neglected ; 
and every accomplishment you acquire will render you a more agree- 
able companion, and furnish you with an innocent source of pleasure 
when you are alone. And every innocent relaxation is a support to 
virtue ; for I respect the good old proverb that Idleness is the mother 
of Vice, and I am persuaded that our greatest comforts must arise 
from employment. But I need not tell you so, for you are always 
active and eager to improve yourself and make a proper use of your 
time. ... I have seldom seen your sister since you left town. I fear 
her situation is still very uncomfortable. I wish she could obtain a 
little more strength of mind. I am afraid she gives way to her feel- 
ings more than she ought to do. If I were to give a short definition 
of virtue, I should call it fortitude. Adieu. Believe me your friend, 

'MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT.' 

The omitted passages refer to a brother of the writer's, whom she 
describes as an idle, dissipated young man, warning Cristall against 
him as a dangerous associate and bad example. 

The appointment as traveller to Turner's firm, referred to in one 
of the above letters, had been obtained by Cristall at his own solicita- 
tion. But the life does not seem to have been very congenial to him. 
He was not of a nature to push his way by making connexions, as his 
good friend had anticipated. While travelling through England and 
Wales, his thoughts ran more on the picturesque than on a mercantile 
position. Part of his time was spent in sketching the old ruins and 
abbeys that he met with in his journeys ; too much it is to be feared, 
for, somehow, his engagement came to an end before the expiration 
of the term agreed upon. Either he abandoned it himself, or his 
employers, finding that he paid more attention to his pencil than to 
their books, superseded him. After this second break-down of the 
young man's prospects in trade, his return caused such dissatisfaction 
in the family that he was induced to keep from their knowledge the 
troubles he afterwards encountered. 

It may have been about this time (but the dates are very con- 
jectural) that any further pecuniary help which he might have derived 
from his father was rendered impossible by a blow which fell upon the 






CH. v THE SOCIETY FOUNDED BARRET AND CRISTALL 185 

family. Mr. Cristall became paralytic, and was ruined by the fault or 
mismanagement of dependants, in some business which he had con- 
ducted, he not having at the time a son old enough to supply his 
place. Young Cristall's life was now a hard one, trials and disap- 
pointments succeeding one another apace. Having to earn his daily 
bread, he first obtained, through a friend, a situation as a copying 
clerk. But to his active mind the drudgery was an irksome task. He 
longed to be at his pencil, or enjoying the beauties of nature, in free- 
dom. Detesting his employment, and dozing over his desk, he was 
unable to get through the amount of writing required of him. His 
master complained, and on coming in one day found him asleep on 
his stool. On receiving the sharp reproof that might have been ex- 
pected, poor Joshua answered plainly that the work was too dull for 
him, and that he could only be active in what he loved. This of course 
ended in his dismissal. 

He was at large again, and would study glorious nature. But 
again, and again, he had to live. The friend who had assisted him 
before, and to whom he now once more applied for advice, blamed him 
for his conduct, and then suggested that he should try an employment 
having in it some relation to, or spice of the fine arts. ' You can 
draw,' said he, ' and have had means of observation while at the 
Potteries. I think you might try that branch. I will give you a set 
of china ' (jars apparently), ' for you to do your best with, and if I like 
your work I will put you forward.' Cristall's ambition was still for a 
higher style of art, but to refuse the work would be to lose an impor- 
tant friend. He accepted the task, trial as it was to him. Some in- 
struction, however, was necessary, even to accomplish this. So, seek- 
ing for one who might teach him the technical matters needful to its 
completion, he found a man who, for a sum of money (it was all the 
pupil had), allowed him not only to work daily with his own artificers, 
but to continue work after the others had gone. Then he found 
courage to confess that he had given his last shilling, and was also 
without a home. After that, he was permitted to stay all night in 
the workshop, where he slept on stools before the stove, covered by 
the men's working coats. How he kept himself from starving, it is 
hard to say. Perhaps bis mother helped him clandestinely, as it is 
said she long continued to do. He did not allow the workmen to 
know of his dependent situation. Rising with the sun, he would walk 
to Hampstead or to Kentish Town, then full of lovely country scenery, 



186 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

would wash in some stream, breakfast on a dry loaf and water, and 
cheer his spirit with a pure draught from nature's loveliness ; returning 
to his work at the time when the men came to theirs, as if he, like 
them, had a home which he had just left. One morning, on his re- 
turn, he found, to his utter dismay, that the master who had so far 
befriended him had decamped, taking everything away with him, except 
the china which Cristall was painting. The man was deeply in debt 
to his workmen as well as to the tradespeople who had employed him. 

Bitter indeed was poor Cristall's anguish at the event, and the 
terribly false position in which it placed him. But things at their 
worst are apt to mend ; and a promise of better times arose even out 
of these evil circumstances. Among the persons who had given work 
to the runaway painter of crockery, and had suffered by his default, 
was a Mr. Lacklan ; who, on coming to look after his own interests, 
found our hero sitting, bewildered and disconsolate, in the denuded 
workshop. Going up to him, Mr. Lacklan proceeded to inquire of 
him the particulars of the man's departure. Whereupon Cristall told 
him of his own melancholy condition. The hearer had pity on him 
in his forlorn state, and took him to the home where he resided with 
his wife's parents. In the house of these truly charitable persons, 
whose name was Clayton, the poor young man was received with 
Christian sympathy and kindness, for which he never after ceased to 
express a heartfelt gratitude. 

Mr. Lacklan contrived that he should go on with his work, alone 
with him and under his observation ; and, when the painting was 
finished, got some one in the trade to fire the pieces. Cristall at 
length placed them in the hands of the friend who had entrusted 
them to him ; but, after recounting the difficulties he had met with in 
accomplishing the task, declined to try his skill upon any more. 1 He 
had now a home at Mr. Clayton's, 2 and could take more time to look 
about him. But he did not, even yet, see an opening through which 
to enter the profession of which he longed to be a member. 

1 Whether these were the first or only china enamels executed by him is perhaps doubtful. 
'When' (on II Dec. 1851) 'I called,' writes Mr. Jenkins, 'on Mr. Dorrell ' (member of the 
Water-Colour Society, born 1778, died 1857) ' to glean some particulars of his old friend 
Cristall, he told me that Cristall, early in life, was engaged at the Potteries, and took from 
his mantleshelf a small specimen of china, which he placed in my hands, stating that it was 
painted by Cristall.' 

2 Many of the particulars of this narrative are derived from notes furnished to Mr. 
Jenkins by Mrs. M'Ketchnie, a granddaughter of this Mr. Clayton's, to whom Joshua 
Cristall stood godfather. 



CH. v THE SOCIETY FOUNDED-BARRET AND CRISTALL 187 

Mr. Lacklan had originally been a print-designer, and it was 
probably through him that Cristall soon after this obtained a situation 
in a large printing establishment at Old Ford, where he remained for 
a considerable time. This house was admirably managed, and con- 
ducted with a benevolent regard for the well-being of the employes. 
The building they lived in was large, and commodiously adapted to 
the purpose of enabling many men to associate together after business 
hours. They had a great room, furnished, it would seem, with books, 
in which they met for reading and discussion, and where any 
favourite branch of study might be pursued. At the head of the 
establishment, either as master or foreman, was a well-informed 
Scotchman, by whom Cristall's studies were greatly aided, both in 
drawing and in reading. He would point out the best authors, 
and suggest a course calculated to improve the mind. On Sunday 
they were visited by a Unitarian minister, and on particular evenings 
they held theological discussions with him, on his own creed, the 
doctrines of Swedenborg, &c. Here our student, though lean enough 
to begin with, resolved to put his body, as well as his mind, through 
a course of training. He entered into an agreement with a Scotch 
comrade, to live, both of them, for twelve months, wholly on salt pork 
and rice. They procured between them a barrel of the one and a 
bag of the other, and stuck strictly to their engagement. At the end 
of the year, they had no wish to renew it, although, as Cristall often 
declared afterwards, they were never better in their lives. When he 
left Old Ford, it was with a final determination to enter life as an 
artist. 

His father probably died at about this time ; for Miss Cristall 
states that it was not until after that event that he entered on his 
favourite occupation. The Lacklans had now ceased to reside at Mr. 
Clayton's, and gone to live at 28 Surrey Street, Blackfriars Road. 
Cristall took up his abode there also, and, except during an occasional 
residence out of town, dwelt with them for the next twelve years. 
His sister Elizabeth came to live with him, and participated in the 
endeavours he made to obtain a foothold on the ladder of life. They 
were thrown upon the world without property ; but he persisted in 
following his decided bent, and tried at every avenue to the profession 
of art. Not satisfied with enamelling, he took up engraving, and for 
a short time ' worked with Barlow ' (probably J. Barlow, who executed 
plates in Ireland's ' Hogarth,' Rees's ' Encyclopedia,' &c.). But it would 



188 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY EK. in 

not do. Then it was proposed between them that he should draw 
and Miss Cristall engrave. But this scheme was abandoned on the 
representation of Holloway, the leading engraver of the day, that a 
lady could not be regularly taught unless she lived with a father or 
relative who could instruct her. 1 She could not be taken as an 
apprentice, and no separate lessons could be given. Women had not 
then the facilities for education which they now enjoy. So this idea 
with the others had to be given up ; and some years after Cristall 
had attained his majority, he became a student of the Royal 
Academy. 2 

He now began to breathe the air which his constitution demanded. 
The progress of development was rapid, albeit he could never overtake 
the lost moments of his many wasted years. He studied anatomy, 
and his taste for classic art was formed and strengthened by the 
models placed before him. He attended Barry's lectures, was fired by 
his enthusiasm, and wished to follow his example. The professor 
told the students that artists could live at Rome, as he had done, on 
fourpence a day. So thither Joshua Cristall and Miss Elizabeth 
resolved to trudge together hand in hand, even as he and his elder 
sister had gone to school in childhood from their old home at 
Rotherhithe. They could walk all the way, and improve their talents 
on the road. But war with France broke out, and this project, too, 
had to be set aside. 

Cristall seems now to have turned his attention more seriously to 
the use of water-colours as affording sufficient means of expression 
of his artistic ideas. A folio of drawings by Raphael, which he had 
observed to be in good preservation, appear to have been some 
encouragement to him in his endeavours. He thought that water- 
colour sketches might be heightened and improved from the mere 
washes which they formerly were. ' At last,' adds Miss Cristall, after 
making the above statement, ' he succeeded and made pictures. But 
his best years were cruelly wasted. Want of proper instruction made 
him dissatisfied with what he did, and I used to grieve to see 
repeatedly beautiful scenes and ideas in figure and landscape painted 
over, or turned and used on the opposite side. More than has come 
out has been so wasted. His higher qualities have been sadly lost. 

1 Byrne and Lowry taught their daughters to engrave. 

2 Miss Cristall assigns the year 1795 or thereabouts to this event, but it seems by what 
follows to have been somewhat earlier. 



CH. v THE SOCIETY FOUNDED BARRET AND CRISTALL 189 

... I could not but deplore that such decided and real genius should, 
through unfortunate prepossessions in his father, be almost cast away. 
... I cannot give dates, except that in 1795 we two were living 
together.' ' 

The time came at last when the artist was able, though barely, to 
shift for himself. It was so in an unfigurative sense, for his mother 
complained that she had had to buy his shirts for him when he was 
thirty. But he was, as above said, her favourite child, and out of her 
little annuity she still helped him occasionally with clothes at a time 
of life when men are generally making their best income. 

The steps whereby Cristall came in course of time to be numbered 
as one of the little clique of water-colour painters of talent known to 
connoisseurs at the end of the century, it would be difficult to count 
exactly. 2 But one aid to improvement, at least, may be confidently 
set down to the influence of the good friend of all striving young 
artists of his class, Dr. Monro, at whose house he attended as one of 
the group of students so often mentioned in these pages. 3 

The late Dr. Percy in his MS. Catalogue, now at the British 
Museum, states that he saw in 1881, at Sir John St. Aubyn's, at 
Mount's Bay, Cornwall, some large drawings of that county signed 
' J. Cristall,' with a date about 1790 or somewhat later, ' very carefully 
done and of a prevailing blue colour.' 

One of the first professional efforts of his brush was in a share 
which he took in painting an early panorama, which circumstance 
caused him ever after to take a great interest in that branch of art. 
This one represented Constantinople ; andit was painted in the great 
room at Spring Gardens, where Girtin's ' London ' was afterwards 
exhibited. One of his coadjutors was a comrade of the name of 
Hayward, with whom he had made acquaintance at the works at Old 

1 Letter from Miss Cristall to Mrs. Clivc, dated ' Lewisham Hill, April 8th, 1851.' 

2 The account given by Mrs. M'Ketchnie of Cristall's earlier life contains the following 
passage, which is here given for what it is worth, though it varies in some particulars from 
the history of the origin of the Water-Colour Society as above recounted : ' He was studying 
hard as a portrait painter, and his admirers considered he would have excelled Sir Thomas 
Lawrence had he continued at it ; but one day when returning from sketching he met 
Varley, Girtin, and another whose name I forget. They told him they had been talking of 
forming a society for exhibiting water-colour drawings, and asked him to join them ; he said 
with all his heart. Thus the Society was formed, and his portrait painting discarded, which 
sadly grieved his admirers.' If this be correct, it gives to Girtin (at least) a share not 
hitherto accredited to him in the origination of our Society, and, as he died in 1802, seems 
to assign to it a somewhat earlier date. 

' Redgrave's Dictionary. 



190 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

Ford, attracted probably by their common proclivity to art. 1 It was 
an intensely cold winter, during which Cristall endured much suffer- 
ing ; one of the specially recorded frosts, possibly the same in which 
Thaddeus of Warsaw (or John Sell Cotman) came to London as afore- 
mentioned. The young painters used to say that they had great 
difficulty in getting through their work ; being in no small danger of 
falling from the very high scaffold erected for their purpose, and under 
the vigilant eye of a proprietor who was so diligent in overlooking 
them, that, although benumbed with cold, they were unable to come 
down and warm themselves. 

Cristall also began to take pupils. His abilities and pleasing 
manners soon won him friends ; and he made some intimate acquaint- 
ances with leading men of talent. Among them, George Dyer, the 
poet and Greek scholar, became a constant visitor ; and he is said to 
have conceived aplatonic affection for Miss Cristall. We have already 
found our artist sketching in North Wales when the Varleys met him 
there in 1802, and going there again with Cornelius Varley in 1803. 
He was enabled to make these tours and also one to the Lakes by 
an opportune bequest of a sum of money. 2 

It was in the course of the first of these rambles that an adventure 
occurred which placed the lives of Cristall and a companion 3 in 
some jeopardy. Two accounts of the affair, furnished to Mr. Jenkins 
by friends of Cristall (Dorrell and Mrs. M'Ketchnie), agree in the 
main particulars. It seems that the party had to put up for a 
few days at an inn in a mining district, where the people were much 
excited by the prospect of'a French invasion. On returning one day 
from sketching, our artists found the largest room in the house filled 
with colliers, who, having taken them for spies making plans of the 
country, were prepared to deal with them after the fashion of Mr. 
Justice Lynch. Mutual ignorance of language prevented an expla- 
nation, and matters might have been very serious had it not been 
for the intervention of the stout landlord. As it was, the supposed 
offenders were hurried off to the nearest magistrate's. But here a 
fresh impediment occurred. His worship, 'it being midday,' was 

1 Presumably J. S. Hayward, mentioned by Redgrave as an amateur who painted well 
in water-colours and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1805 to 1812 both figures and 
landscapes ; and probably the same Hayward who was Secretary of the Sketching Society. 

2 T. J. J- tx relatione Dorrell. There are small studies from Wales, dated 1803, in the 
collection of drawings by Cristall at the British Museum ; and from the Lakes, dated 1805, 
both there and at the Scottish National Gallery (Nos. 214, 249). 

Named as ' Webster the geologist.' 



CH. V THE SOCIETY FOUNDED BARRET AND CRISTALL 191 

drunk, and falling downstairs in an attempt to answer the summons, 
remained for the time incapable. Fortunately, however, the reverend 
gentleman (he was the parson) had a better half, who became their 
preserver. She could speak a little English, and was able to grasp 
the situation. Using the influence she possessed, which was consider- 
able, with the patriot mob, she induced them to wait till next day, the 
prisoners remaining in custody at the parsonage. Then, at midnight, 
having provided three horses, she rode by their side through by-ways, 
brambles and thickets, and placed them in safety ten miles away. 

In 1803 Cristall exhibits at the Royal Academy ; and this brings us 
within twelve months of the time when, at the age of thirty-five, he 
was induced to join the Society of water-colour artists, which was in 
course of formation. His address in the Royal Academy Catalogue for 
1803 is ' 137 High Holborn ; ' and that in the first of the Society's (for 
1805) is ' 36 Berners Street and at Kentish Town. 1 Doubtless he 
resided in the last-named quarter. 



192 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. Ill 



CHAPTER VI 
GLOVER, HAVELL, HOLWORTHY, AND RIGAUD 

John Glover Popular teacher and artist Birth and parentage Writing-master Taste for 
agriculture Love of animals -Power of taming birds Taste for music Early subjects 
Settles at Lichfield Marriage and family Personal characteristics Diligence and 
activity Sketching in Wales and Dovedale Boyish spirit Works at the Royal 
Academy William Havcll Birth and parentage Artist family Irrepressible bent 
Sketches in Wales Exhibits at the Royal Academy Painter in local colour -James 
Holworthy Birth and antecedents Friend of Turner's S. F. Rigaud Figure-painter 
Antecedents. 

JOHN GLOVER, the next above-mentioned of the new adherents, was 
an artist of great popularity in his day. Born in the same year as 
Barret and Cristall, he, unlike them, was not only well established 
already in the profession, but enjoyed a wide appreciation of his talent 
as a landscape-painter. Although of an humbler origin than either, 
he had had fewer obstacles to contend with in the pursuit of his chosen 
career. Hitherto his success had been in a measure confined to the 
provinces ; for, although he had exhibited at the Royal Academy 
since 1795, he resided at Lichfield, and there he was chiefly engaged 
in tuition, both ' public and private.' ' He painted in oil, as well as 
in water-colours, but it is on his now faded works in the latter medium 
that his reputation chiefly rests. His practice, technically speaking, 
was little in advance of the old tinted method, but his style was not 
devoid of originality, and, in his own drawings, showed itself capable 
of producing very beautiful effects. It was, however, not free from 
a mannerism which recommended it to a tribe of pupils who, not 
being like himself students of nature, necessarily failed in its intended 
application. 

Glover was a self-taught artist ; and, although his practice in 
water-colours is said to have been founded on that of William Payne, 2 
does not appear to have derived much development from contact with 

1 Art Journal, I July, 1850. * Century of Painters, i. 515. 



CH. vi GLOVER, HAVELL, HOLVVORTHY, AND RIGAUD 193 

the greater artists of the rising school. His manner of painting was 
probably settled by the time that he joined the Water-Colour Society. 
A fuller analysis of his practice being reserved for another occasion, 
the present shall be devoted to an account of his antecedents and 
personal characteristics. Some of the following anecdotes refer, indeed, 
to a rather later period than that with which we are now dealing, but 
are inserted here to show the manner of man that he must have been 
from the time, at least, of his arrival at man's estate. 

He was the youngest of three children, and born at Houghton- 
on-the-Hill, about six miles east of the town of Leicester, on the 
1 8th of February, 1767. His father was a poor man, engaged in 
agriculture. But the bucolic cast of the parent's mind did not 
prevent him from giving his children a good plain and Christian 
education, or induce him to check his son John's bias towards art, 
exhibited in the child's habit of covering every scrap of paper he 
could find with infantine designs. Young Glover could handle the 
pen too with effect, as well as the pencil, and became so great a 
proficient in calligraphy, that when he grew to the age of nineteen 
he was engaged as writing master in the free school at Appleby. He 
had not, in the mean time, like some of his rivals in art already 
mentioned, been eating out his heart in a life distasteful to him, nor 
consuming his spirit in vain endeavours to follow a congenial pursuit, 
instead of the plough. He had a natural taste for agriculture, which 
he retained to the end of his days. The country was not to him, as 
to young Nicholson, a region of mental desolation. His love of 
rural scenery was accompanied by a remarkable fondness for animals. 
Cattle are among the favourite subjects of his early drawings, and at 
one time he took to painting animals as large as life. But his 
peculiar fancy was for birds. He had an extraordinary power of 
taming them, and delighted in making them his pets. These he held 
on such terms of attachment that he would allow them to fly away 
to their native woods, and they came back at his call whenever he 
pleased. Perhaps a good ear for music, to the practice of which 
sister art he was much addicted, may have had something to do 
with the fascination he commanded. 

There can be no doubt, too, that while helping to till the midland 
acres he was diligent in studying the scenery of his own country 
district. In a book of slight sketches by Glover, brought from the 
antipodes, where it was purchased of him late in his life, Mr. Jenkins 

O 



I 9 4 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

found one of trees in Indian ink, under which the artist had written 

the following lines : 

Oh, Ingersby . . . 

How gladly I recall your well-known seats, 
Beloved of old, and that delightful time 
When all alone for many a summer's day 
I wandered through your calm recesses, led 
In silence by some powerful hand unseen. 

To these lines he had added the following words of explanation : 
' This was my early school. These were the scenes near my native 
place, which helped to make me a Landscape Fainter.' One of the 
three drawings of his first year's appearance, in 1795, at Somerset 
House, was a ' View near Ingersby, Leicestershire.' Again, in the 
first exhibition, in 1824, of the Society of British Artists, of which 
Glover was one of the founders, there was a picture of his entitled, 
' A favourite haunt of my youth in Leicestershire.' Pyne describes 
it as representing an enchanting site, with greenwood trees and a 
pellucid, brawling stream, observing that the artist ' whose original 
feeling for the pursuits of painting developed itself under the 
influence of his own perceptions alone, first studied in the vicinity of 
the spot.' l This was no doubt another reminiscence of Ingersby 
Hollow, a spot within two miles of Houghton. 

Glover's professional practice began during his residence at 
Appleby. He found employment in what was to so many of our 
water-colour painters their first pathway to profit, the delineation of 
gentlemen's seats in the neighbourhood. And doubtless he also 
turned to good account the opportunities afforded by the lovely 
scenery of Westmoreland. 

After some half-dozen years spent in this united devotion to the 
pen and pencil, he felt sufficient confidence in himself to set up as an 
artist and teacher of art, in a new locality. In 1794 he removed to 
the cathedral town of Lichfield, where, as above stated, he divided 
his time between a good business which he acquired there, as a draw- 
ing master, and his own practice in art ; sketching as much as he 
could in the neighbourhood, and indulging at the same time his taste 
for music. He now began to paint in oil ; and also etched some 
plates, 2 and we first find his name in the Academy Catalogue the year 
after he took up his residence in the Trent valley. 

1 Somerset House Gazette, ii. 82. 

2 Redgrave says that he made many etchings. The British Museum has only one. of 
two cows, in soft ground. 



CH. VI GLOVER, HAVELL, HOLWORTHY, AND RIGAUD 195 

He married at an early age, and was the father of six children, 
four sons and two daughters. In person, Glover was tall and stout. 
But he had club feet. In spite of his lameness, however, he was very 
active, and, enjoying excellent health, could walk many miles a day 
with ease. He followed his art with untiring diligence, was an 
early riser, and only took as much rest and recreation as appeared 
needful to keep him in health. A very little sufficed for that 
purpose. If report spoke truly, when he was about to open an 
exhibition of his works (hereinafter mentioned), he took no more 
than two hours' sleep in the twenty-four for a month together, except 
on Sundays. A pupil ' relates that when they were painting together 
at a like time Glover would take off his spectacles, and, in a sitting 
posture, fall asleep in an instant, and in a few minutes would again be at 
work, perfectly refreshed, to pursue till a late hour in the evening the 
occupation he loved. The same informant, who worked and sketched 
with him much when at the height of his career, relates further that, 
during a six weeks' tour together in Wales, the master was always 
up before five and kept on at work every day till dark. The pupil, 
on his own confession, was less industrious. But cliacun a son gout. 
' We had each a tent,' says he. ' Mr. Glover gave me mine. His first 
picture in this trip was a view of Cader Idris from the hills above 
Mr. Owen's of Garthynghared. He painted ; I was only looking on, 
and rambling about the hills with Mr. Owen's daughters.' Yet 
Glover could ramble too, if sufficiently tempted, in spite of his love 
of art, and his club feet. ' I remember,' says the same informant, 'on 
cne of these days ' (this was about the year 1820), 'that Mr. Glover 
left his tent to follow a young skylark, which he at length caught ; 
and he tamed it so completely that he gave it its liberty every day, 
and it came to him for food, and every night it rested in a little 
covered basket. . He afterwards tamed a white water-wagtail, a 
yellow wagtail, and a titmouse. They all slept in the same basket. 
The lark was alive several years afterwards. The wagtails came to an 
untimely end. The titmouse had fits after eating ; and he gave it to 
a Miss Lloyd of Caernarvon. He would, for recreation merely, 
' follow a bird and find its nest. I once saw him jump up from his 
picture to take a wasps' nest in the middle of the day. Never was 
there a boy more earnest in the sport, or more absorbed by it till it 
was ended.' 

1 Mr. Edward Price, writing to Mr. Jenkins from Nottingham in 1856. 



o 2 



,96 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY BK. in 

Though 'at all other times very diligent with his pencil, Mr. 
Glover was playful in his moments of recreation.' In illustration of 
this, his pupil gives the following account of ' a little bit of merry 
mischief he attempted in Dovedale, when he made two fine pictures 
there ' : ' I have heard my father, who was the incumbent of Christ 
Church, Needwood, say that he remembered the river Dove when it 
was far more beautiful than it is now, 1 or than it was when Mr. G. 
was there. It was in its natural state, when the bright stream met 
with the frequent interruption of fragments of rock, and other' 
obstacles ' of a most picturesque character. When Mr. Glover was 
painting there, but few of these things remained. For the present 
proprietor had caused artificial weirs to be made in several places 
across the river, to deepen the water for his trout and grayling. Mr. 
Glover did not like this. We took up our quarters at a little inn 
called the Dog and Partridge, about a mile from the entrance of the 
dale, and early in the morning, when we [went] with our tents, and late 
in the evening when we returned to our inn, we stopped to do all the 
mischief we could to these weirs. Mr. Glover sometimes contrived 
to throw a lump of rock cleverly upon the verge of the fall, which 
caused a little diversion of the water ; but he intended to dislodge a 
stone of the weir, and leave the water to finish his work ; and he 
would, with a stick, wriggle about among the heavy stones till he 
actually saw runlets of the river beginning to do his bidding. But 
he had no mercy upon me ; for he sent me into the water to assist in 
the work of destruction. A quarter of a century has passed,' adds 
the writer, ' and the weirs appear just the same now as when we were 
trying to alter them.' 

Of Glover's agility and daring, his companion relates the following 
example, the scene being in the same locality ; ' There is a cavern in 
Dovedale, high up the hill on the right hand, and halfway up the 
dale, called ReynarcCs Cave. This cavern is in a perpendicular face 
of the rock. Directly in front of this is a high natural detached arch, 
through which you see the cave. Scramble up to it, for the base of 
the hill from which it rises is at an angle of about sixty degrees with 
the river. Pass through the arch, and still climb on many yards till 
you reach Reynard's Cave. Now, look down, through the arch, upon 
the river ; and look up to the ridge over the arch, and there you will 
see the spot on which I saw Mr. Glover. If you try to go there, you 

1 1856. 



CH. VI GLOVER, HAVELL, HOLWORTHY, AND RIGAUD 197 

will probably break your neck in the attempt. The way to it is up 
the hill, to the left, from the cave, till you are as high as the ridge over 
the arch. This is just the spot on which I stood, when Mr. Glover 
asked me to come to him. Moreover, he balanced himself and 
danced upon the ridge, and vaulted from thence across to the 
opposite rock (namely, the rock over Reynard's Cave). I could not 
go along it.' Yet there was ' this mountain of a man ' with club feet 
more foolishly daring than I was, or any school lad I ever saw. I 
have seen many daring fellows try to get to this place, without being 
able to do it.' If this was a true picture of John Glover at the time 
to which it refers, it cannot be a too highly coloured one to represent 
him as he was some twenty years younger, when our Society was 
founded. 

Though he played thus when he played, he worked also when he 
worked. He would be in the meadows of a summer morning, and 
his sketch-book was always with him at hand, as he went to attend 
his pupils. And in the winter, when the ground has been covered 
with snow, he made studies of cattle in the fold-yard. Nothing 
escaped his observation, and he never lost an opportunity of noting 
down anything that was worth remembering. ' I was with him,' 
writes the companion above quoted, ' at Penmaenmawr in North Wales, 
in a thunderstorm, when he stopped to sketch some donkeys with 
their backs raised like a pent-house, the water streaming off them ; 
and, when he was on his way to Dovedale, he alighted at the Green 
Man at Ashbourne from the " Derby Dilly " 2 and made an admirable 
drawing of a goat, which he afterwards exhibited. Thus he was 
always ready for his work, and thus he obtained a freedom of 
hand and a general knowledge of form and effect, which enabled 
him to produce pictures of any subject and size with rapidity and 
ease.' 

In 1795, 1799, 1801, 1803, and 1804, Glover had altogether had 
about sixteen works in the Academy exhibitions, from one to six a 
year. Only one was hung in the great room, namely a ' Sunset ' in 
1799- This was doubtless his d^but as a painter in oils. In 1804 he 
had a view of the Trossachs, before which time his subjects had chiefly 
been taken from Derbyshire and Wales. 

1 He weighed eighteen stone. 

2 ' Dilly ' is short for diligence \ and the above name was given to a coach running 
between Derby and Ashbourne. It is referred to by Canning in the Anti-Jacobin. See 
also Alhcnceuin, 16 Oct. 1886, p. 497, on Pendleton's History of Derbyshire, 



198 THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY UK. in 

The WILLIAM HAVELL who was found sketching at Dolgclly by 
the Varleys in 1802, and at Ross by Cornelius Varley and Cristall in 
1803, and who made a cock-shy of his palette in the market-place, 
was a young man just entering the profession, when he joined these 
friends as another member of the new Society. Probably he was the 
youngest of the brotherhood, his birthday being the gth of February, 
1782. His father, though a teacher of drawing, who lived and prac- 
tised at Reading, was not over-anxious that his sons should follow the 
same calling. For he had not found it lucrative enough to depend on 
for the maintenance of himself and his wife and a family of fourteen 
children. By way of supplement he had had to open a small shop 
which brought him a steadier income. Several of the family, how- 
ever, took to art in one form or another, 1 among whom William, the 
third son out of eight, was by far the most distinguished. He had 
been told off to the shop, but showed his desire to be an artist by 
seizing every opportunity of improving his power over the pencil. 
He was obliged to foster this taste in private ; but one day his father 
surprised him while he was finishing a sketch, and he surprised his 
father by the evidence it afforded of a secretly nurtured talent. He 
was then permitted to follow his bent, and turned out to gather a 
wholesome art-pasture on the Welsh mountain side. But he had 
first been provided with a good classical education under Dr. Valpy 
at the Reading grammar school, where his father held the post of 
drawing master. In 1804 he showed the results of his study, in the 
three first drawings which he exhibited at Somerset House, two of 
Caernarvon Castle, and the third of Nant Francon. It may be 
assumed that they were of such merit as to justify his admission to 
the body which he now joined, at the age of twenty-three. 

The new method of Turner, Girtin, and Varley, wherein local tints 
were laid in at once, and the design advanced with the corresponding 
shadows, was practised by Havell also. He painted in oil as well as 
water-colour, and was destined to hold a high place in the British 
school of landscape. His address in the Academy Catalogue of 1804 
is ' 6 Clipstone Street, Fitzroy Square,' and in the next year he is at 
'61 Poland Street.' 

Two more foundation members, of less distinction, have yet to be 
mentioned. 

1 There are eleven of the name Havell mentioned in Graves's Dictionary of Artists. 



CH. VI GLOVER, HAVELL, HOLWORTHY, AND RIGAUD 199 

JAMES HOLWORTHY was born on the loth of April, 1781. He is 
said to have been an intimate friend of J. M. W. Turner's ; ' and he 
appears to have been a pupil of Glover's. 2 He exhibited three Welsh 
views at the Royal Academy in 1803 and 1804; but otherwise little 
is known of him before the time of his joining the Society. His 
address in the first catalogue is ' 4 Mount Street, Grosvenor Square.' 

STEPHEN FRANCIS RIGAUD, a figure-painter, was, according to 
Redgrave, 5 ' a student of the Royal Academy, and first appears as an 
exhibitor in 1797, and for many years was an occasional contributor 
both of portraits and of subject pictures, sacred and classic. In 1801 
he gained the Academy gold medal for his historical painting, 
' Clytemnestra exulting over Agamemnon.' His address was '71 
Great Titchfield Street.' 

1 Bemrose's Life and Works of Wright of Derby (1885), p. 4. 

* 'Letter to /*** A*****, Esq., A connoisseur in London, by William Carey, p. 15.' 
Privately printed, Manchester, 1809. 
' Dictionary of the English School. 



BOOK IV 

THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 



CHAPTER I 
IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 

The Brook Street Rooms Their antecedent uses First Exhibition of the Society (1805) 
Sale-clerk, a novelty Classes of subjects Profits divided First Associates Their 
previous biographies Miss Byrne J. J. Chaton Robert Freebairn William Dela- 
motte P. S. Munn R. R, Reinagk John Smith Francis Stevens John Thurston 
Glover and Gilpin Wells elected President Second Exhibition (1806) Its contents 
Profits divided Shelley and his portraits Smith a Member New Associates Their 
previous biographies Thomas Heaphy Natural v. Academic teaching Augustus Pugin 
Birth and descent Escape from France Mathews the actor With John Nash 
Architectural drawings. 

THUS there were assembled sixteen practitioners in water-colours to 
join their forces in an Exhibition, which should show the public of 
what their art was capable, when standing on its own foundation. 
The next thing was to determine the locus in quo. A set of two 
rooms were found, apparently well suited to the purpose ; being in a 
central situation, and already familiar to amateurs and collectors. 
They were at No. 20 Lower Brook Street, not far from the spot where 
the scheme had been hatched in George Street, Hanover Square. 
They had been built for show or sale rooms, by Gerard Vandergucht, 
one of a well-known Flemish family of artists, who flourished for more 
than a hundred years in England as engravers, painters, and dealers 
in objects of art. Gerard died on the i8th of March, 1776, aged eighty. 
His stock-in-trade, comprising a large collection of engravings, was 
sold in the following year ; and Benjamin Vandergucht, his thirty- 
second child, 1 relinquishing portraiture for picture dealing, succeeded 

1 They were a prolific race these Vanderguchts ; the thirty-two were born of one mother, 
who survived her husband. 



202 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

to the business, 1 admitting the public to see his collection of pictures * 
on payment of one shilling. Benjamin was drowned in the Thames 
in 1794, not far from Hogarth's grave in Chiswick churchyard ; and 
this collection came in its turn under Christie's hammer in 1796. 
After that, Thomas Barker, known as ' Barker of Bath ' and celebrated 
for his picture of ' The Woodman," had an exhibition of his works in 
the Brook Street Gallery. From him the rooms passed into the 
hands of the painter, Henry Tresham, who, on returning from Rome, 
opened the gallery in association with ' several other gentlemen pic- 
ture dealers,' for the sale of ' Raphaels, Correggios, and stuff,' as some 
of them proved. Becoming a Royal Academician, however, in 1799, 
and engaged in literary and other work, he had no further occasion 
for the great room, and let it, with its appurtenances, to the Water- 
Colour Society. 3 In the days of the Vanderguchts, this house in Lower 
Brook Street was distinguished by the sign of the Golden Head* 

When the numbering of the houses was altered at a later period 
of the nineteenth century, No. 20 Brook Street (or Lower Brook Street, 
as it was sometimes called) became No. 54. An inspection of this 
and the adjoining number on each side (viz. 56 and S4A) seems to 
show that the old rooms, now divided, originally extended along the 
backs of these houses. Behind No. 56 there is a ware-room with 
a raised skylight, which has evidently been built for an exhibition 
gallery. 

Here, on Monday, the 22nd of April, 1805, the Exhibition was at 
last opened to the public, with the announcement quoted in the Intro- 
duction to this history. The plan, now adopted in similar exhibitions, 
of placing an attendant in the room with a price-book of pictures for 
sale, and a register of purchasers' names, was introduced as a new 
experiment. The novelty, if any, seems to have consisted in the 
power given to the clerk to enter into an agreement for sale, and 
receive a deposit of ten per cent, to secure the purchase. In the 
exhibitions at Somerset House, it does not appear to have been the 
practice at this period even to give information as to the prices of 

1 Cf. Somerset House Gazette, \. 1 30, Stanley's edition of Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and 
Engravers, and Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists of the English. School. Redgrave says, 
that Benjamin was a son of Gerard's brother John, an engraver who helped Hogarth, and 
died in the same year as he did, aged seventy-nine. 

2 Sir William Beechey exhibited some of his works here. See Sandby's History of Ike 
Royal Academy, i. 311. 

3 Somerset House Gazette, ttbi supra. 

4 See Royal Academy Catalogue, 1771 ; address of Benjamin Vandergucht. 



CH I IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 203 

pictures for sale, though, in the early catalogues, such works were 
distinguished by an asterisk. ' But there had been greater facilities 
at the Incorporated Society of Artists. In the catalogue of the 
exhibition of 1770, at Spring Gardens, is, for the first time, the 
following announcement : ' The Public are desired to take notice 
that the numbers and prices of such performances as are to be disposed 
of, are left with the assistant secretary, who attends in the room.' The 
Free Society employed a similar attendant, sometimes a woman. 

' The experiment thus fairly started succeeded beyond the most 
sanguine expectations of its projectors. The exhibition was daily 
crowded with visitors. Connoisseurs, dilettanti, artists, and critics, vied 
with each other in loud commendations of the collected works. The 
noble in rank and the leaders of fashion graced it with their presence. 
An eager curiosity seized upon those who claimed to live in the 
exclusive region of taste.' l Pyne tells us that among those who 
offered the warmest congratulations on the success of the undertaking 
were many of the leading Academicians. In the seven weeks during 
which the exhibition remained open, nearly 12,000 persons paid for 
admission. Not only were the rooms thus crowded, but, what was 
yet more gratifying, the visitors ' appeared emulous to become 
purchasers of the works exhibited. Hitherto, very few instances 
could be named of the pictures of living artists being disposed of at 
a public exhibition ; whilst here, the room at once became an excellent 
mart for sale.' 2 

All the sixteen members were represented by works in the 
gallery, but their contributions to the joint show varied considerably 
in quantity. John Varley sent no less than 42 works, Pyne and 
Shelley 28 each, Glover and Hills 23 each, Wells 21, Gilpin 20, Pocock 
17, Nicholson 14, Havell and Cornelius Varley 12 each, Barret n, 
Cristall 8, Rigaud 6, and Holworthy and Nattes 5 each. As was 
to be expected, the main strength of the collection lay in its land- 
scapes. But the figure element was present also, and it gave a 
variety to this first gathering, the absence of which was complained 
of a few years after, when landscape seems to have acquired an all 
but absolute dominion. 3 It is true that the works of Shelley, Rigaud, 
and even Cristall, whatever may have been their actual merits, did not 

1 J. J. J. MS. ! Somerset House Gazette, i. 131. 

' See Repository of Arts, iii. 423, on Exhibition of 1810 ; and Somerset House Gazette, 
ii. 127 on that of 1824. 



204 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

entirely represent the figure school which then existed among water- 
colour draftsmen. Of its most characteristic branch we find nothing 
as yet on the Society's walls. It was only in later years, and in a 
younger generation, that the illustrative school of Blake, Stothard, 
Westall, and others made its appearance in the water-colour exhi- 
bitions. Artists of their class had found full employment in making 
designs for the embellishment of books, and thus had not suffered 
in the same way as the landscape painters from competition with oil 
pictures. Nor was there at first much more than a suggestion of that 
species of figure painting which concerns itself with present life and 
the aspect of the world we live in, such as existed in the works of 
Gainsborough, and had been continued by Morland, Ibbetson, and 
others, and (largely mixed with caricature) in those of a real genius 
in his way, Thomas Rowlandson. This would have formed the true 
counterpart of the class of natural landscape which was now being 
brought into such marked significance. It was only present here in a 
few rustic figures of fishermen and others, and five studies for a work 
in hand on the costume of England, by Pyne, and a gipsy group by 
Wells. Including these, and eight portraits by Shelley, the figure sub- 
jects formed less than 20 per cent, of the whole collection. About half 
a dozen were pure allegory ; l conspicuous among them a tribute by 
Shelley to the memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds, to whom his own art 
was so much indebted. Herein ' Painting overcome with Grief is con- 
soled by Sculpture, who presents her with a medallion of Sir Joshua, 
for the Genii of Taste to convey to the Temple of Fame,' &c. &c. 
Reynolds had then been dead thirteen years. The remainder were 
subjects from the poets, sacred history, heathen mythology, and the 
classic fancy of the artist. Motives derived from English history or 
fiction were absent altogether. The art exhibited in these imaginative 
works was not of a progressive kind. Their ideal of beauty, never 
very robust, has since gone out of fashion. Nor was it destined long 
to survive. It had to die and be forgotten ere a fresh aesthetic impulse, 
reflecting archaic models of quite another stamp, came to create the 
poetic figure-school followed by certain of our painters in water-colours 
in recent times. 

In matters of technique, however, the works of Shelley and Rigaud 
afford, in the painting of the figure, examples of a method bearing 

1 One of Shelley's, ' Memory gathering the flowers cropped by Time,' is now in the South 
Kensington Museum. 



CH. I IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 205 

the same relation to the process in common use before their time, as 
that of the landscape draftsmen in local colour bore to the old-fashioned 
tinting of topographic views. Examples of the strong-outline and 
grey-and-wash process applied to the figure must be sought for in the 
drawings of Sandby, De Loutlierbourg, Dayes, Mortimer, Wheatley, 
Rowlandson, Alexander, and many others. Of the more complete 
practice, the leading representative appears to have been Richard 
Westall, R.A., whose name is specially associated with a reform of 
figure-painting in water-colours corresponding to that which Turner 
and Girtin have the credit of effecting in landscape. 1 William 
Hamilton, R.A. (b. 1751, d. 1801), and Shelley were of the same 
class as Westall. 

But the great majority of the drawings in this first exhibition 
were, as has been above said, landscapes, of one kind or another. 
And it was in this department that the change was chiefly manifest 
which had come over water-colour drawing. Here there was visible 
just enough, both of the old motives and of the old processes in 
painting, to indicate the states of art and practice out of which the 
present developments had sprung. The early tinted manner survived 
in the works of Pocock, old architectural topography in those of 
Nattes ; and in one or two examples by Gilpin there was just a 
reminder of the old craze for ' gentlemen's seats.' The ' classic ' or 
ideal element derived from Claude and Poussin, which had been 
paramount in our landscape art until the time of Gainsborough, was 
also present, and probably reigned over a group of ' compositions,' so 
named, among the drawings sent by Glover, Havell, and Varley, and, 
in nearly all cases, over the works of Barret. Under the generic 
names ' landscape,' ' view from nature,' ' a lake scene,' &c., may also have 
been included representations more or less characteristic of particular 
kinds of scenery, without the aim of giving importance to an actual 
locality. But by far the larger number of the landscapes belonged 
to the class which might still be called topographic, though in that 
wider acceptation of the term which does not exclude from its scope 
mere natural scenery, provided that the features peculiar to a given spot 
are duly recorded. It was the form of landscape in which the classic 
school on the one hand, and the ' dry-as-dust ' topography of the olden 
time on the other, had finally met and merged. Except eight views in 

1 See Somerset House Gazette, ii. 46, and Century of Painters, i. 408. 



206 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 UK. IV 

Norway by Wells, 1 and a few others of small importance, the whole of 
the remaining landscapes were scenes in the British Isles, forty-three 
per cent, being from Wales. Of these Welsh views more than two-fifths 
are by John Varley, besides from three to seven drawings each by 
Cristall, Havcll, Nicholson, Pocock, and Cornelius Varley, all belonging 
to the Celtic contingent. The North of England, chiefly Yorkshire 
with her abbeys, supplied the subjects of twenty-four drawings by 
various artists ; and ten, mostly by Nicholson, were from Scotland. 
Gilpin brought six Irish views-from the Lakes of Killarney. 

There were two further ingredients which varied the interest of 
the exhibition as a whole, namely : Hills's studies of cattle, sheep, and 
deer ; and a series of spirited drawings by Pocock, of British sea- 
fights, some of the great engagements that had taken place within the 
memory of all visitors to the gallery. Such pictures were not then, 
as they are now, mere reflections of the historic past, but contained 
matter of stirring present interest. Nelson himself was alive, though 
to die in the coming October. 

These two hundred and seventy-five drawings have long been 
dispersed, beyond all power to trace more than a very few. Some, 
perhaps, have perished, and of what remain many are sadly faded, we 
may be sure. Beyond a meagre tradition, little is left to give us an 
estimate of what this first exhibition was like, or the actual quality 
of its contents, except bare names as they stand in the catalogue, and 
some knowledge of what 'their owners did in after years. But even 
from the titles of their works we can tell something of the painter's 
intentions. It is noteworthy how some of them are in the habit of 
specifying among the chief motives of their pictures, the kind of 
weather, the time of day, and the various ' effects ' under which the 
scene they depict is represented. Among Barret's works, for example, 
we have ' An Evening Effect,' ' A Twilight Effect,' ' A Mountain 
Scene after Rain.' Of Glover's, such notes enter into more than half 
the descriptions. ' Morning,' ' Stormy Sunset,' 'Evening,' 'Mid-day,' 

1 Mr. Jenkins saw one of these drawings of Wells's, the ' Fortress of Frederickshall on the 
frontier of Norway, where Charles XII. lost his life,' long afterwards at the house of its 
possessor Mr. Henry Elliot, a lifelong friend of Wells's, to whom it was presented by the 
artist's family after his death. Mr. Elliot stated that he had known the drawing for more 
than thirty years, but could observe no change in its appearance. Mr. Jenkins describes 
it as ' representing a mountainous country, fir woods and water, under the effect of evening, 
when the sun touches with a mellow light the distant hill -tops, and pencils with deeper gold 
the glowing stems of the pine forests ; a work that favourably displays the artist's power 
over colour and effect. ' (J. J. J. MSS. ) 



CH. I IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 207 

1 A Partial Shower,' ' Thunderstorm at Sunset,' ' Moonlight,' ' Snow,' 
' Singular Effect of a Thunderstorm,' ' Sunshine and Distant Rain,' 
' Still, warm Evening.' All these memoranda occur in titles of his 
drawings in this first exhibition. And Pocock, like a true sailor, duly 
notes the distinctions of ' breeze ' and ' gale ' and ' storm,' and whether 
they be ' fresh ' or ' strong.' That Nicholson made his mark, we learn 
on the evidence of Pyne, who tells us that 'the discovery of ' that 
painter's ' process for preserving the heightenings pure and clean in 
touch threw a light upon this department of study. From the time 
his drawings appeared upon the walls of the first exhibition of the 
Society, many of its members, professors of landscape, wrought their 
elegant designs with a greater degree of force and effect.' The powers 
and capacities in the materials which they exhibit had, he contends, 
been developed by Nicholson alone. 1 

What was the contemporary verdict, as to the comparative merits of 
the sixteen painters now brought together, it would be difficult to 
discover ; for there were not then the host of art journals and a 
critics that we have now, to gauge or guide the public taste. But a 
tecord has been preserved, in the Society's minutes, of the estimates 
made by the artists themselves of the value of their own work. In 
accordance with the rule, wise or otherwise, which had been prescribed 
for the distribution of any available residue of profits, each member 
had to make a valuation of his accepted works. The aggregate 
amount of these valuations was 2,86o/., whereof Shelley set himself 
down as contributing a share of attraction worth 743/. 8s. ; Glover's 
estimate was So//. 3^. ; and others named smaller sums, down to a 
modest 44/. 12s. 6d. by Cornelius Varley. These various sums, on 
being compared with the numbers of drawings sent in by the different 
members, give for each the average price per exhibit, and the conse- 
quent order of self-estimation, appearing in the following list. 



I. 


Shelley . 


.26 


10 


6 


9- 


Wells . 


. 7 


o 


O 


2. 


Glover . 


. 22 


I 





10. 


Cristall . 


. 6 


13 


o 


3- 


Pocock . 


13 


o 


o 


it. 


Havell . 


S 


H 


o 


4- 


Nattes . 


. 12 


2 


6 


12. 


Nicholson 


S 


12 


o 


5- 


Hills . 


. 10 


18 


o 


13- 


J. Varley 


4 


14 


o 


6. 


Rigaud . 


. 10 


2 


6 


H. 


Barret . 


4 


9 


6 


7- 


Gilpin . 


9 


18 


o 


IS- 


Pyne 


4 


8 


o 


8. 


Holworthy 


9 


o 


o 


1 6. 


C. Varley. 


3 


14 


o 



Somerset House Gazette, i. 30, 31. 



2o8 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

On this showing, the average price of a drawing was about 
IO/. us. It need scarcely be said that the foregoing table of pre- 
cedence does not in all cases agree with the verdict of posterity as 
to the merits of the artists named therein. 

The exhibition closed on the 8th of June, and the founders met 
to ascertain their position. They had never ventured to hope that, in 
its early stages, their enterprise would do more than pay its expenses. 
They must therefore have been agreeably surprised to find that the 
public admissions had been so numerous as to bring to the door a sum 
of more than 577/., and leave in the treasurer's hands, after all expenses 
paid, a surplus of nearly 2721. This sum, in accordance with the above- 
mentioned rule, was duly divided among the members, in shares 
varying from 5/. "js. 6d. to 6i/. iSs. 6d. proportioned to the declared 
values of their contributions to the gallery. 

Encouraged by this success, the founders began to prepare on a 
larger scale for a second exhibition in the ensuing year. At the 
first anniversary meeting, on the soth of November, it was resolved 
that the number of contributors should be augmented by the forma- 
tion of a new class, called ' FELLOW-EXHIBITORS.' They were not 
to exceed sixteen, and from them future Members were to be chosen. 
Their privilege to exhibit did not extend to more, it seems, than five 
drawings at a time. It was further agreed that two Members should 
thus be added every year until their number should reach twenty- 
four, beyond which limit there was to be no further extension. 
Gilpin, Shelley, and Hills were reappointed to their respective offices 
of President, Treasurer, and Secretary ; and with Pocock, Glover, 
and John Varley, constituted the new Committee. 

On the 3Oth of December, 1 1805, the following nine artists were 
selected, out of sixteen candidates proposed by the different members, 
for Associate-Exhibitors, 2 namely : Anne Frances Byrne, John James 
Chalon, William Delamotte, Robert Freebairn, Paul Sandby Munn, 
Richard Ramsay Reinagle, John Smith, Francis Stevens, and from 
John Thurston. 

ANNE FRANCES BYRNE was one of a family of artistic children 

1 By reason of elections having taken place at the end of the year previous to that in 
which an exhibitor's name can first appear in the catalogue, slight errors of dates have some- 
times been made in biographies hitherto published. 

2 The name ' Fellow- Exhibitor' is used in the first two years' catalogues, and 'Associate- 
Exhibitor ' afterwards. 



en. I IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 209 

left by the William Byrne who engraved Hearne's 'Antiquities of 
Great Britain.' Scarcely three months before his daughter's election 
he had died in Titchfield Street, at the age of about sixty-two, while 
engaged in producing the first part of a series of prints, which were 
continued for a number of years, under the title Britannia Depicta. 
It contained views by Hearne, Turner, Farington, John Smith, and 
Alexander, but latterly by Farington alone. Other eminent line 
engravers, including Middiman, Landseer, and Pye, were afterwards 
employed on the work, together with three of William Byrne's 
children, John, Elizabeth, and Letitia Byrne. It will be necessary to 
speak further of John Byrne, the youngest, and the only boy of the 
family, as a water-colour painter. 

Anne Frances was the eldest child, and born in London in 1775 
(the birth year of Turner and Girtin). She seems to have taken to 
art con amore, giving up for its practice a course of more lucrative 
teaching in which she had been engaged, and devoting herself to 
painting fruit and flowers in water-colours. She had exhibited such 
subjects since 1796 at the Royal Academy, and now took her place 
as the first representative of that branch of art in the Society's annual 
show. ' Her flowers,' says Redgrave, who gives us the above facts in 
his Dictionary, ' were well grouped, and with great richness of colour 
combine a charming freshness ; but, with the exception of a bird 
exhibited on one or two occasions, her art was confined to fruit and 
flowers.' There is a study of flowers by her at South Kensington 
grouped after the manner of the Dutch painters De Heem and Van 
Huysum, and embellished with as liberal a sprinkling of bees, butter- 
flies, dewdrops, and other minute accessories, as one is apt to look 
for in the works of those masters. It appears that flower-pieces were 
not encouraged in the early days of the Society, and that the admis- 
sion of Miss Byrne's works was made a special exception to a rule 
relative to their exclusion. The rule was, however, rescinded in 
January 1809. Miss Byrne, was moreover the first lady-artist who 
had been admitted into the Society, and as such was held to occupy 
a peculiar position. The special provisions applicable to her class, 
while they assumed disabilities of her sex in the conduct of business, 
which are in modern times less rigidly insisted on, were not wanting 
in chivalrous generosity. ' Ladies associate-exhibitors,' says the 
writer of an early notice of the Society, 1 ' as they can never share 

1 See Microcosm of London (1808), ii. 33. 

P 



210 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

actively in the management of the Society's affairs, are not eligible 
as members ; but from the moment of their election they become 
entitled to partake of the profits of the exhibition in the same pro- 
portion as the members, while they are exempt from the trouble of 
official duties, and from every responsibility whatever on account of 
any losses incurred by the Society.' 

The name Chalon is more commonly associated, in the history of 
modern painting, with Alfred Ed-ward Chalon, the younger of two 
brothers, of whom the new exhibitor, JOHN JAMES CHALON, was 
the elder. The two were, however, so closely united in many respects 
that it is not easy to treat of one without the other. Alfred attained 
to higher distinction, enjoying Court patronage, and a unique position 
as the fashionable portrait painter in water-colours. John, though a 
clever designer, did not exhibit many pictures, and was little appre- 
ciated by the public. But he and his merit as an artist were widely 
known and recognized in the private and professional circles wherein 
the brothers moved as inseparable companions during their long lives. 
John Chalon was twenty-seven (Varley's age) when he was chosen 
as an associate. Alfred was nearly five years younger. They had 
been entered as students of the Royal Academy (whereof both were 
in after years to become full members) in 1796 and 1 797 respectively ; 
both having, like so many other successful artists, abandoned the 
drudgery of commercial pursuits to follow their common bent. 

They came of a Huguenot family ' who left France on the revoca- 
tion of the Edict of Nantes, and long resided in Geneva, where ' both 
the artist brothers were born. Their 'grandfather served as a 
volunteer in a French Protestant regiment in Ireland, under King 
William III., and was wounded at the battle of the Boyne. On the 
reverses which followed the French Revolution in 1789 the family 
came to England, and the father was appointed professor of the 
French language and literature at the Royal Military College, Sand- 
hurst, and afterwards settled with his family at Kensington.' ' 

John Chalon had as yet shown himself only as a painter in oils, 
having exhibited at the Academy in that medium since 1800. At 
first he had some figure pictures there of the genre class, but in 1804 
or 1805 his works had all been landscapes, and it is chiefly as a land- 
scape painter that he now joined the water-colour school. 

1 Redgrave's Dictionary. 



CH I IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 211 

ROBERT FREEBAIRN also belonged to the landscape class, and 
was in the main a painter in oil. He was of the earlier generation, 
had been a pupil of Wilson's, the last that master taught, and on his 
death in 1782 had gone to Italy to study. From that year he sent 
pictures to the Royal Academy, and returning to London in 1792 he 
continued to exhibit Italian landscapes at Somerset House. He was 
forty when he joined the Society. His place was not in the front 
rank. But Redgrave describes his works as ' carefully and neatly 
finished,' and his colour ' brilliant and pleasing.' Hakewill in his 
'Tour' couples Freebairn with Wilson, Cozens, and Smith as one of 
the great depictors of Italy. 

WILLIAM DELAMOTTE'S surname implies, like Chalon's, a French 
extraction. 1 He was a young man of five-and-twenty, who had, two 
years before, been appointed drawing master at the Great Marlow 
Military Academy. He had previously lived at Oxford. Wales, 
Cumberland, and Derbyshire had been his rural sketching grounds, 
and Girtin's works the models of his style. Like that painter, he had 
also sketched in Paris during the short Peace of Amiens in 1802 ; and 
some half-dozen views of Oxford, 2 which with Welsh and other land- 
scapes he had exhibited at Somerset House between 1796 and 1805 
showed him capable of strengthening the architectural element in the 
Society. Delamotte had begun his art-education as an Academy 
student, and had even been for a short time a pupil of West's, but 
had taken to modern landscape as a branch of art more suited to his 
abilities than the severer school to which such teaching naturally led. 

Little is known of PAUL SANDBY MUNN, except that he had 
lived at Greenwich, and had since 1798 been exhibiting, at the 
Academy, landscape drawings of picturesque subjects, cottages and 
the like, from the Isle of Wight, the English Lakes, and North 
Wales. His baptismal name provokes speculation, in seeming 
to point to a family connexion with landscape art. There was, 
indeed, a James Munn, who exhibited six landscape drawings in the 
old societies' galleries from 1764 to 1774; and Redgrave plausibly 

1 The name Delamotte occurs among those of the many French Huguenot refugees who 
settled at Canterbury. (Kershaw's French Protestants in their English Homes, p. 135.) 

1 A plate of ' Oxford, from Ferry Ilinksey,' in the Beauties of England and Wales, is 
dated 1834. 



r 2 



212 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805 1812 BK. iv 

suggests that this may have been a relation. Possibly it was his father. 
The younger Munn is said to have died at the age of seventy-two in 
1845, and could thus have been born within a year of the time when 
the elder ceased to exhibit, and perhaps to live. It may be that he 
was a devotee of Sandby's art, and desired to dedicate his infant son 
to service at the same shrine. It would be easy to weave a pretty 
romance to suit the case. But there is no tradition to support it, and 
it must be confessed that Munn junior, though he painted agreeably 
in the old-fashioned way, did not inherit the talent of a Sandby, any 
more than did Raphael Smith, or Claude Nattes, or Anthony Vandyke 
Fielding, or Julius Cczsar 1 Ibbetson repeat the greatness of the names 
their parents had given them. 

Munn was employed as a topographic draftsman by Britton, in 
whose Beauties of England and Wales are eight plates after his 
drawings or sketches, with the following dates of publication, 
namely : ' Stoke Park ' (sketched by Britton), 1 802 ; ' Fowey Har- 
bour,' ' Llanercost,' ' Wolford Lodge, Devon,' ' The Monnow Bridge 
&c., Monmouthshire,' ' Buildwas Abbey, Salop,' ' Wenlock Abbey, 
Salop,' 1803, and ' Farleigh House, Somerset,' 1813. 

RICHARD RAMSAY REINAGLE is another painter whose baptism 
records artistic descent ; for his second name is doubtless derived 
from the fact that his father had been a pupil of Allan Ramsay, 
portrait painter to the Court of King George the Third. The father 
was Philip Reinagle, A.R.A., and afterwards R.A., to each of which 
suffixes the son also became, for a time at least, entitled. 

The earlier painter of the name, during a career of about fifty-five 
years, which began with the exhibition of a work in 1773, seems to 
have studied nature, for subjects on his canvas, in a descending order 
through creation. For, beginning with portraiture of the lords there- 
of, he after a time found greater fascination in lower types of life, 
painting horses, hunting-pieces, dogs, and birds, till, abandoning the 
animal kingdom, he subsided into landscape, and then illustrated a 
book on botany. He assisted Barker in some of his panoramas. 2 
He had a wonderful knack, too, of copying Dutch pictures ; and 

1 Ibbetson is said to have owed his heroic preenomen to the fact that he was brought into 
the world by the Caesarian operation. One might cite the cases, too, of Michael Angela 
Rooker and John Buonarotti Papworth, were it not that the second name was in theirs a 
sobriquet added after baptism. 

1 Sandby's History of the Royal Academy, i. 345. 



CH. I IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 213 

his reproductions of the small cattle-pieces and landscapes of that 
school pass as originals. 

Young Reinagle's taste seems to have obtained its direction from 
some of these later phases of his father's practice, and the opportuni- 
ties of study which were given him accordingly. He was born on the 
igth of March, 1775, and began to exhibit at the Royal Academy 
in 1788, when he was but thirteen. As a young man he sketched 
in Italy and in Holland ; and his style in the landscapes which 
chiefly engaged his prolific pencil showed signs of both these educa- 
tional influences. His art, it need scarcely be said, was far from being 
confined to water-colours. He painted in oils ; and had also worked 
in distemper on Robert Barker's panoramas. 1 In 1802, indeed, he 
had joined partnership with that artist's eldest son, Thomas Edward 
Barker, and set up, in a building afterwards converted into the Strand 
Theatre, a rival establishment to that in Leicester Square. 2 

With JOHN SMITH we have already made some acquaintance. 
He was the ' Warwick ' or ' Italian ' Smith whose name is associated 
with the great reform which was taking place in the practice of water- 
colour drawing at the close of the last century. A notice of his 
antecedents and method of work has already been given. 3 Now that 
the Society appeared to be established, he overcame his shyness, and 
allowed himself to be a candidate for admission. But he did not 
exercise the privilege of exhibiting until more than a year after it 
was acquired. 

FRANCIS STEVENS, born 21 Nov. 1781 (possibly at Exeter, as 
he was called ' Stevens of Exeter,' and lived there at one time 4 ), was 
another and a clever landscape draftsman, a pupil of Munn's, whose 
address, at 107 Bond Street, is that which he gives in the catalogue 
for 1806. He exhibited five studies and views at the Royal Academy 
in 1804 and 1805, from Middlesex, Yorkshire, and Notts. Rustic 
architecture was apparently his forte ; and his first contributions to 
the Society showed that he had sketched in Yorkshire and elsewhere. 
There is at the South Kensington Museum a rather elaborate drawing 
by him of ' A Devonshire Cottage ' dated 1 806, probably one of the 

1 One of his panoramic views was of Rome. There is a copy of the printed ' Explana- 
tion ' of it at the British Museum, 8vo, 1800 (?). 

'* This Strand concern was sold in 1816 to Henry Aston Barker and John Burford. 
1 See Book I., chap. vi. * Redgrave's Dictionary. 



214 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

identical works contributed on his election. It is harmonious and 
warm in tone, ' painted in local colour, the lights boldly taken out ; ' 
but the figures are too small for the buildings. 

JOHN THURSTON was of the figure department, and represented, 
though incompletely, the school of illustration which was wanting in 
the first exhibition. He had been a copper-plate engraver, and 
worked with James Heath, on whose ' Death of Major Pierson ' and 
' Dead Soldier ' his burin was employed. But he was chiefly known 
as a designer of book illustrations, for the most part ' drawn on the 
block for wood-engraving. The following works contain cuts from his 
designs : Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, 8vo (Tegg), 1804 (frontis- 
piece) ; Thomson's Seasons, royal 8vo, 1805 (cuts by Bewick); 
Beattie's Minstrel, 4to, 1807 (cuts by Clennell) ; Rev. J. Thomas's 
Religious Emblems, 4to, Ackermann, 1809 (cuts by Branston, Clennell, 
and Nesbit) ; G. Marshall's Epistles in Verse (cuts by Branston) ; 
G. A. Stevens's Lecture on Heads, 1 2mo (47 cuts of heads by Nesbit). 
He seems, at the time of his election, to have been preparing a set of 
small groups for an edition of Shakspere, published by Whitting- 
ham in 1814. Five such groups were what he sent to the exhibition 
of 1806. Most likely they were in his usual manner, 2 tinted over 
Indian ink. These were the only drawings he exhibited with the 
Society. His figures were neatly executed with a firm line, but too 
often wanting in natural expression. He was born at Scarborough 
in 1774, had sixteen works at the Royal Academy between 1794 and 
1829, and died at Holloway in 1822. 

With these additions to their number, the Society proceeded with 
the arrangements for their second exhibition, to take place in the 
ensuing season. They had already been seeking for a more com- 
modious gallery than that in Brook Street, and had applied to Mr. 
Christie the auctioneer for the rooms then held by him in Pall Mall, 
the same that had been occupied by the Royal Academy before its 
removal to Somerset House. Unable, however, to come to terms in 
time, they had to fall back upon the former for one more exhibition, 
under a fresh lease of io/. a week from Mr. Tresham. But (as 

1 There are four designs of his engraved in stipple by Ridley in an edition of Zimmer- 
mann's Solitude, 2 vols. fcp. 8vo. (Vernor and Hood), 1804, 1805. 

2 Dr. Percy had an illustration by him of Swift's Tale of a Tub, ' 4-45 x 8-45 outlined 
with pencil and pen, and tinted.' (Percy Catalogue.) 



CH. I 



IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 



215 



announced in a fly-leaf of the catalogue for 1806) they secured the 
old Academy rooms for the following year. 

The exhibitors, generally speaking, had had good reason to be 
satisfied with the success of their first venture. Glover appears to 
have been so much so, that he gave up his establishment at Lichfield, 
and settled himself in London, at No. 3 Montagu Square. The 
result was not so satisfactory to one at least of the other members. 
It was no benefit to poor Gilpin. The apparent inferiority of his 
performances to those of some, at least, of his companions in art, had 
the effect of alienating his pupils. He lost much of his great practice 
as a drawing master, and of the extensive connexion which he had 
commanded through his uncle the Academician, and his brother the 
literary amateur. He continued indeed to exhibit drawings with the 
Society, but the move he made was the reverse of Glover's. He retired 
from town to settle in the country, accepting an engagement as a 
drawing master at the Royal Military College, Great Marlow, sub- 
ordinate, it is presumed, to that of William Delamotte. On the 
24th of March, 1806, on thus leaving London, he vacated the presi- 
dential chair, much to the Society's regret. Pocock was chosen to 
supply his place ; but he refusing the post, they elected Wells. 

The second ' annual ' exhibition, still at Brook Street, opened on 
Monday, the 2ist of April, and closed on Saturday, the I4th of June, 
1806. The 301 pictures which it contained were contributed in the 
following proportions ; prolific John Varley again heading the list with 
even one more than in 1805, and Hills rising to the second place with 
almost as many. 

J. Varley . . 43 Gilpin . .10 Chalon . . 5 

Hills . . .40 Havell . . 10 Munn . . 5 

Nicholson. . 26 Pyne . . . 10 Reinagle . . 5 

Pocock . . 24 Cristall . . 9 Stevens . . 5 

Glover . . 20 Shelley . . 9 Thurston . . 5 

Barret . .18 Rigaud . . 8 Freebairn . . 3 

Wells . .17 Holsworthy . 7 Delamotte . . 2 

Nattes . . 12 C. Varley . . 7 Miss Byrne . i 

The strength of the collection lay again, we may be sure, in the 
sound broad treatment of landscape, real and imaginary, by Varley 
and Havell ; in the repose and sunshine of Barret's classic drawings 



216 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

in Nicholson's views, powerful and deep in tone ; and Glover's less 
solid, but luminous and suggestive realizations of nature. 

One of the chief things that strike the eye, on a perusal of the 
list, is that nearly one-half of John Varley's works are now described 
as ' compositions.' The same thing was to happen in the end of that 
artist's career, when, having nearly ceased to sketch from nature, he 
relied almost entirely on his memory and imagination. But the fancy 
drawings of this early period were of a different class. They had in 
all probability been examples given to his pupils in certain general 
principles of landscape art, which he practised himself, and taught 
as their expositor, and which were recognized, as the rules of common 
guidance, by the school whereof he and the leading members of the 
Society constituted the core. One of Cristall's drawings, representing 
youths bathing, illustrative of some lines in Thomson's 'Summer,' 
Pyne speaks of as 'a design that would have done credit to any 
of our ancient schools,' and could not have been expressed in a 
better medium for the purpose than water-colour. 1 Shelley seems to 
have drawn so largely already on his stock of imaginative pictures, 
that he now sends but two (a ' Holy Family,' and ' Love disappointed" 
after the flattering tale told by Hope, a subject suggested by a 
popular ballad of the time), and makes up his number with portraits ; 
while Rigaud represents the Death of Nelson, in due allegoric form, 
the King of Terrors inverting his torch, and Victory and eternal Fame 
assisting at the ceremony. 

When the exhibition closed and the committee again took stock, it 
was found, that there were 12,439 checks of admission, which, as before 
at one shilling, would produce 62 1/. 19^. And the sale of catalogues, 
for which an extra sixpence was now demanded, increased the gross 
receipts to 7647. ids. A balance of 44O/. 3^., after paying expenses, 
was divided, in like manner as before, among the sixteen members, 
with the addition of Miss Byrne, who seems to have been allowed to 
participate under the polite arrangement above mentioned. 

The principle of apportionment, however, dependent as it was upon 
each member's estimate of his own works, was already beginning to 
be scrutinized. It was naturally considered that the portraits, of 
which Shelley had sent so large a number, and which could not fairly 
be said to promote the Society's objects, did not justly entitle him to 
a share of profits on their account. Resolutions to that effect were 

1 Somerset House Gazette, i. 195. 



CH. I IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 217 

passed by two general meetings in the ensuing spring. The imme- 
diate result was that Shelley resigned the treasurership, much to the 
Society's regret. He was replaced in that office by Reinagle, who, 
together with ' Warwick ' Smith, had been raised to the rank of 
Member at the anniversary meeting of i Dec. 1806. Glover, John 
Varley, Cristall, and Barret were the committee for 1807. 

On the 23rd of March in that year, Thomas Heaphy and Augustus 
Pugin were selected as new Associates, out of nineteen candidates. 
This choice added in each case to the artistic strength of the Society ; 
in the former to the figure department, in the latter to that of archi- 
tectural delineation. 

We are apt to boast, with good reason, of the native origin and 
character of our British school of water-colours. Yet several of its 
best practitioners have been of foreign descent. It was so with both 
these artists. THOMAS HEAPHY came from the Huguenot colony of 
silkweavers in Spitalficlds, settled there after the revocation of the Edict 
of Nantes. His father, John Heaphy, and mother (a Frenchwoman 
whose maiden name was Katharine Gerard), lived in the parish of 
Cripplegate, where Thomas was born. The date of that event is set 
down by Redgrave in his Dictionary as 29 December, I775> proba- 
bly on sufficient evidence ; though in an earlier account given of him 
in the Century of Painters it was, on the authority, it seems, of the 
artist's son, stated to have been ' about 1779-80.' 'In his early years,' 
writes the son, in some manuscript memoranda, communicated also 
to Mr. Jenkins, 'he showed some inclination for art; and his father, 
doubtless with the intention of utilizing this predilection, apprenticed 
him to a dyer. This occupation being distasteful to him, his 
indentures were cancelled, and he was shortly after apprenticed to 
Meadows ' the engraver, who had acquired reputation by his engrav- 
ings from the works of Richard Wcstall.' Long after, on seeing the 
series of Westall's Sacraments on sale at the European Museum, 
Heaphy pointed them out to Pyne as ' old acquaintances,' saying, ' I 
worked many a month nay, even for some years, on the large plates 
from these identical drawings.' 2 

1 Robert Mitchell Meadows engraved in the stipple manner for Boydell's Shakespeare 
Gallery, and after Westall, Hamilton, and others, and attained much distinction. He 
published in 1809 three lectures on engraving, and died some time before 1812. (Red- 
grave's Dictionary, ) 

Somerset House Gazette, \, 354. 



218 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 UK. iv 

But young Heaphy, to whom the canvas was more attractive 
than the copper, used to spend the evenings, when he had done his 
master's work, at a place of instruction in art somewhere in Finsbury, 
conducted by a painter of the name of Simpson. 1 It seems to have 
been a good school, for it turned out several scholars well known after- 
wards in the profession ; among them H. Ross, father of Sir W. C. 
Ross, R.A., and like his son a miniature painter. 2 

Heaphy moreover began to paint portraits, and exhibited them at 
Somerset House yearly, from 1797, when he made his debut with a 
likeness of himself. With this exception, his sitters are for the most 
part female, and for some years exclusively so. In 1799 he sends 
a ' Portrait of Miss Stephenson,' and in 1800 one of ' Mrs. Heaphy,' 
together with ' Mrs. Meadows,' probably the wife of his master, the 
engraver. Miss Stephenson and Mrs. Heaphy were, in fact, one and 
the same person. She was the sister of a fellow-student at Simpson's, 
and Heaphy married her while he was still an apprentice. 3 

He had now to earn his bread, and for a time managed to subsist 
by colouring popular prints, on soft paper, after Westall's pictures. 
He was what was called a ' soft-print toucher.' When his time had 
expired at the engraver's he also became a student at the Royal 
Academy. While in the schools there, he gained no distinction in 
the shape of medal or premium, for he chose rather to follow his own 
ideas than conform to the prescribed course and tread the beaten 
track of study. The works of Westall, which he had had to observe 
so carefully, had not bred in his mind a reverence for the old masters. 
It was, indeed, too much the practice of eminent figure painters in his 
day to neglect the study of nature. In works of the fashionable 
class, of which Westall's drawings may be taken as the type, they 
were wont ' to adopt a certain conventional style of feature, even in 
the most familiar subjects, that stood in the stead of expression and 
individuality.' Against this and the teaching which led to it, Heaphy 
rebelled ; and he passed the better part of his life in earnest and 
active hostility to the Royal Academy, and what he called ' academic 

1 It has also been stated that Heaphy was a pupil of a Mr. Boyne, who held a draw- 
ing school in Gloucester Street, Queen Square. See Arnold's Magazine of the Fine Arts, 
p. 222, ' Neglected Biography.' But his son does not mention this school. 

2 This is the account given by Heaphy's son, who adds the name of Thomas Uwins, R.A. , 
among Simpson's scholars ; but we find no reference to this alleged fact in Mrs. Uwins's life 
of her husband. 

3 His son spells the name Stevenson. 



CH. I IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 219 

art.' Copying a motionless model, artificially posed in the studio, was 
not, as it seemed to him, drawing ' from the life.' For the subjects of 
his pencil he betook himself to the fields and the sea beach, and 
having an eye to the varied appearance of the world he lived in, gave 
to his original works a vitality and freshness to which the public had 
not been accustomed among figure draftsmen, at least not in those 
above the rank of caricaturists, like Rowlandson. Before the time 
of his entering the Society, however, this side of his art seems scarcely 
to have been presented to the public. 

His son writes that his first subject-picture in water-colours was 
painted when he was about twenty-one or twenty-two, and represented 
a girl stooping over a river's bank to gather a water-lily. Except ' The 
Portland Fish Girl' in 1804, and perhaps a study called 'Watchful- 
ness ' in 1803, we find nothing of his of an earlier date in the Academy 
catalogues, except portraits. But in the latter department he had 
been rising rapidly. From portraying himself (which he did again in 
1 80 1 ), and his wife, and such ordinary folk, he had ascended to a 
more exalted patronage. In 1802 he represents in one picture the 
Russian Ambassador, Count Woronzow, and the Countess, Lady 
Palmerston, the Hon. W. and Miss Temple, and Lady Lavington ; 
and the next year he appears as ' Portrait Painter to the Princess of 
Wales,' and exhibits portraits of her Royal Highness and other persons 
of rank. It is, however, exclusively as a painter of subjects from 
humble, or, it might more correctly be said, from low, life, that he was 
to make his appearance in the Society's exhibitions. Portraits, as we 
have seen, had been virtually excluded from the walls by what lawyers 
might call the ' rule in Shelley's case.' He had ' struck out,' says 
Pyne, ' a new and a pleasing style of execution, and manifested an 
excellent feeling for colouring. Indeed, he gave great presage of 
future excellence, by a very original path.' l His sentiment was not 
refined, but his works would at least be a relief to the conventional 
quality of Shelley's and of Rigaud's. 

AUGUSTUS PUGIN was a Frenchman, at that time chiefly en- 
gaged in making professional drawings for Mr. John Nash, who built 
Regent Street, and was then rapidly acquiring his extensive business 
and fashionable repute. 

1 Somerset House Gazette, i. 194. 



220 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY 1805-1812 P,K. iv 

Pugin was according to some authorities thirty-eight, and toothers 
forty-five or so, when he joined the Society. 1 He came of a good 
family, being descended from ' a nobleman who raised a hundred 
soldiers for the service of Fribourg,' and for whose valour in defeating 
the same number of cavalry at Morat, besieged by Charles, Duke of 
Burgundy, in 1477, ' the senators augmented his arms (fun oiseau 
sable.' 2 When a young man in France he is said to have associated 
with distinguished artists, to have been intimate with David, and a 
companion of Isabey's. Monsieur Lafitte, a member of the Legion 
of Honour, and one of the household of the Emperor Napoleon I., 
who ' designed among other works the panel decorations of the 
" Arc de Triomphe " in the Place de Carrousel,' was his brother-in- 
law, and is said to have given him much instruction. 3 How he came 
to leave the land of his forbears (the ancestral black bird notwith- 
standing), has been variously related. Ferrey the architect (who was 
his pupil) reports that in the French Revolution Pugin fought for the 
king, and falling, was thrown with some hundred bodies into a pit 
near the Place de la Bastille, but swam the Seine, fled to Rouen, and 
thence escaped to England. 4 But the late Charles J. Mathews, the 
actor (another pupil), tells a different story. He says that Pugin, 
' having fought a duel in Paris, which ended fatally, sought refuge in 
England, landed on the Welsh coast, and having great talent as an 
artist, earned his living for the time being by his pencil.' 5 

When Pugin first came to this country his condition was forlorn 
enough. He was a typical Frenchman of the ancien regime, with ' a 
three-cornered hat, a muff, a gold-headed cane,' and little or no know- 
ledge of the English tongue. For some time his friends were unable 
to communicate with him ; for when he called for his letters, the 
country postmaster failed to recognize, in his pronunciation, any hint 
of the name inscribed on a pile of correspondence that stood waiting 
to be claimed by its rightful owner, ' Mr. Puggen.' The story was 
afterwards told by Pugin to his friend Charles Mathews, the elder 
comedian of that name, who made from it one of his most celebrated 



1 Benjamin Ferrey, in his Recollections of Welby and Augtistus Pugin (p. l), gives the 
date 1762 as that of the latter's birth; but states (p. 101) that he died in December 1832, 
' at the age of 63.' Redgrave takes 1762 to be the true date. Other compilers give 1769. 

1 Ferrey's Recollections of the Pugins. There is in the Art Library at South Kensington 
a copy of The Magazine of Fine Arts, vol. i. (1821), with a book-plate of the arms of 
' Augustus de Pugin,' and the motto 'En avant.' 3 Ibid. pp. 30, 31. 

* Ibid. p. 2. 5 Dickens's Life of C. J, Mathews, \. 39. 



en. I IN BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 221 

impersonations, combining humour and pathos, in the little piece- 
called ' Monsieur Malet.' l Pugin, indeed, took credit fora larger share 
in the origin of Mathews's ' at homes ; ' for he was even wont to 
insist, in after years, that it was from himself that the comedian 
acquired his astonishing power of mimicry and personation. 2 In 
time the refugee succeeded in mastering our language, and spoke it 
perfectly, ' as far as volubility was concerned.' So at least says 
Mathews the younger (no bad judge of volubility), who knew him 
only at a much later date ; adding, however, that after Pugin had 
been domesticated in England for some forty years, ' his French 
accent and his French idioms were as marked as if he had only 
recently arrived. If he talked in his sleep,' says his lively pupil, ' he 
talked in French, and in computing money he always mentally 
reduced the pounds and shillings into francs before he could ascertain 
their exact value.' 3 ' In person ' Pugin ' was remarkably good-looking, 
and in manner displayed overwhelming politeness. His foreign shrug 
and strong accent often astonished the country people with whom he 
was brought in contact.' 4 

The precise way in which, and time when, Pugin's acquaintance 
was made with John Nash, the architect of Regent Street, which is 
said to have led to a twenty years' connexion between them as 
fellow-workers, is also a little obscure. Ferrey's account is tolerably 
circumstantial. He says that Pugin's attention was arrested by a 
newspaper advertisement, intimating that the assistance of a drafts- 
man was required in Nash's office, and that a foreigner would be 
preferred. Pugin thereupon hastens to the architect's residence, and 
in the waiting-room comes across a French nobleman, whom he had 
known in Paris, a candidate for the same appointment. Nash weighs 
their qualifications, and chooses Pugin. 5 If, however, as he adds, 
Nash was then ' in the full tide of his prosperity,' and proceeded to 
employ Pugin on (among other things) drawings of a proposed 
' Waterloo Monument ' which could not well have been before the 
latter part of 1815 they must have been old friends at the time of 
this engagement. For Mathews speaks of Nash as having been (in 
times which were ' bygone' in 1819) a ' humble builder of Swansea,' 
and of Augustus Pugin as one who ' had painted the scenes for the 

1 Ferrey's Recollections of the Pugins, pp. 2-4. 2 Ibid. p. 29. 

1 Dickens's Life of C. J. Mathews, p. 42. 

4 Ferrey's Recollections of the Fugins, p. 30. 5 Ibid. p. 2 



222 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

little Welsh theatre.' 1 And Ferrey himself, in another place, gives 
to the first acquaintance between Pugin and the elder Mathews the 
specific date 1796, when the latter, ' returning from a professional en- 
gagement in Ireland, was nearly wrecked on the coast of Wales, and 
while at Carmarthen fell in with Nash and Pugin, 2 who thus seem 
to have been already known to one another. Mathews further says 
that his own father, when, 'somewhere about 1797, a struggling actor 
on the Welsh circuit, made the acquaintance of Mr. Nash the builder, 
at Swansea, who was a great patron of the theatre and occasionally 
indulged in amateur performances himself.' 3 And he tells us that 
Pugin, ' having become a great favourite of and of much use to 
Mr. Nash, ultimately accompanied his patron to London, and soon 
became the founder of a school of his own creation, and one much 
needed and highly patronized.' 4 But this independent position had 
not yet been attained. In 1807 Pugin had barely crossed the thres- 
hold of his career. He seems already to have been collecting mate- 
rials for architectural publications, with which his name is chiefly 
associated. To improve such practical knowledge of art as he had 
acquired in his native country, he had become a student of the 
Royal Academy, and, according to Ferrey, was the companion of 
Hilton and of Shee. 5 He also put himself under the tuition of an 
aquatint engraver called Merigot, probably a refugee like himself, 
whom he found living in London, and who had formerly been a 
drawing master in his father's family. In the Academy catalogues 
his name first appears in 1799, more as that of an architect than a 
picturesque draftsman, with a ' Design of an intended Villa in the 
North of England.' The next year he has a ' View of Belvidere 
House, Lambeth;' but nothing more till 1804, when he enters his 
proper field with a view of Westminster Abbey. In 1805 and 1806 
he has, each year, three architectural subjects, four of them from 

1 Dickens's Life of C. J, Mathews, i. 38. In Dr. Percy's collection were ' Two Studies 
for Operatic Scenes,' by A. Pugin. 

2 Recollections of the Pugins, p. 29. 

3 Ibid. The three acted together in the ' School for Scandal,' Nash being Sir Peter Teazle. 
Mathews (the younger) had a playbill naming him for the part, and had heard that he 
performed it admirably. Ferrey also mentions such a playbill (ubi supra. ) He says that Nash 
had patrons in Wales and acquired property there ; and, being fond of theatrical representa- 
tions, built a private theatre, in which Mathews, Pugin and other friends acted for their own 
amusement, sometimes inviting the surrounding gentry to witness their performances. (Re- 
collections of the Pugins, p. 14.) ' Ibid. p. 40. 

5 It is again difficult to reconcile dates. Shee entered the schools in 1790, and Hilton in 
1806 (Sandby's History of the Royal Academy}, being a contemporary of De NVint's. 



CH. I IX BROOK STREET, 1805, 1806 223 

Oxford. In 1807 he exhibits instead at the Water-Colour Society, 
beginning with an ' Interior of St. Paul's.' 

Of the many books of architectural illustration for which, during 
a quarter of a century from this time, he was constantly engaged in 
making drawings, and of the important part which he played in the 
revival of a taste for the Gothic style, mention will be made in due 
time. In the name of his son, A. N. Welby Pugin, the Gothic archi- 
tect, that 01 Pugin is known to many who are not aware how excel- 
lent an artist the father was in his own department of architectural 
drawing. It is as a water-colour draftsman that he here claims our 
notice. Some of the designs which he executed for Nash on a large 
scale were in body colour. 1 But these are exceptional. Mathews 
tells us that he produced his effects by the most simple means, con- 
fining himself literally to the use of three colours, indigo, light red, and 
yellow ochre. ' It would,' he justly adds, ' puzzle some of our modern 
water-colour painters to find themselves thus limited.' 2 This par- 
ticular combination we now know to be unsafe as regards perma- 
nence ; but at the time they were painted, Pugin's drawings were 
admired for their colour, as they still deserve to be for their form and 
chiaroscuro. 'Architects,' says Mathews, 'flew to him to have their 
plans and elevations put into correct perspective, and surrounded 
with the well-executed and appropriate landscapes Pugin was so 
skilful in producing.' 3 

1 Ferrey. 2 Dickens's Life of C. J. Mathews, \. 42. Ibid. pp. 39, 40. 



224 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 



CHAPTER II 
IN PALL MALL AND BOND STREET, 1807, l8o8. 

The old Royal Academy's rooms Third Exhibition (1807) Royal sentries Continued suc- 
cess Nattes expelled His subsequent career Glover, President Heaphy and Chalon 
Members Freebairn dies Posthumous exhibits Biographies of new Associates J. A. 
Atkinson Studies in Russia Published works William Turner Of Oxford Early 
drawings Fourth Exhibition (1808) Bond Street rooms A rival society The Associ- 
ated Artists Its founding and constitution Leading Members Turner and Atkinson, 
Members of The Water-Colour Society Reinagle, President Delamotte retires His 
subsequent career. 

WHILE the Society was thus securing good recruits, active prepara- 
tion was being made for its next exhibition, and the shifting of its 
quarters to Pall Mall. The old rooms of the Royal Academy, at 
No. 118 Pall Mall, which had at length been engaged for the purpose, 
were situate on the south side of the street, a little to the eastward 
of, or partly overlapping, the site of the United Service Club. The 
building adjoined old Carlton House, which stood back, behind an 
imposing colonnade on the now open space between that club and 
the Athenaeum. The galleries belonged to Mr. Christie, the auc- 
tioneer, and had been used as the sale rooms of that celebrated firm 
at least as late as 1804, previously to its removal to a house further 
to the west in Pall Mall, near to the War Office, adjoining Schomberg 
House. James Christie, the founder of the business, died in 1802. 
It was his son, James the second, who succeeded him, that let the 
rooms to the Water-Colour Society. There are 'several drawings in 
the Grace Collection at the British Museum, showing the street front 
of the old Royal Academy ; and a cut of it in Mr. Sandby's book. 
That writer further refers to a view of the interior in 1771, painted 
by Brondoin, and mezzotinted by Earlom, representing a small room, 
apparently some thirty feet long, with a central raised skylight, which 
was seen from the outside. 1 Here the third exhibition opened on the 
27th of April, 1807, and it remained open until the I3th of June. 

1 Sandby's History of the Royal Academy, \. 125, 131. 



CH. II IN PALL MALL AND BOND STREET, 1807, 1808 225 

Gilpin, still a Member, though no longer in office, did not with- 
draw his goodwill from the Society, but used his interest to give 
eclat to the occasion by procuring for it the distinction of sentries 
from the King's Guard to stand in the passage that led to the 
gallery. The previous success was more than repeated ; 14,366 
shillings were taken for admission at the door, beside the moneys for 
catalogues ; and 47 1/. 7s. \o\d. was the sum divided ; Glover coming 
in for the biggest share, 88/. 6s. ^d. Two rooms were open, hung 
with 324 drawings, about half in each. The general character of the 
show resembled that of its predecessors ; except that there were now 
no portraits ; that ' Warwick ' Smith, now a full Member, exhibited 
nineteen works, chiefly subjects of Italian landscape and ancient 
remains ; and that rustic figures by Heaphy, and Pugin's one archi- 
tectural drawing, were among the Associates' contributions. 

One element of a foreign nature had, however, been inadvertently 
admitted into the miscellany, which the Society was not slow to 
repudiate. On the I7th of June, four days after the close of the 
exhibition, a meeting was called, to adjudicate upon a serious charge 
against one of the original members, Claude Nattes. It was to the 
effect that a great part of the drawings sent by him as his own pro- 
ductions were the work of other persons, and had been exhibited 
in contravention of the Society's express rule that the works of out- 
siders were not admissible, and with a dishonourable intention of 
obtaining a larger dividend out of the profits than the exhibitor's 
own works would have entitled him to. On this charge Nattes was 
found guilty, and the meeting, bearing in mind the declaration laid 
down when the Society was founded, that its members were to be 
not only of ' professional reputation ' but ' moral character,' passed an 
immediate sentence of expulsion. Thus the first member who left 
the Society retired in disgrace. Nattes again resorted to Somerset 
House for exhibition. His name appears in the Academy catalogues 
till 1814, and then is seen no more. 

At the anniversary meeting, on the 3oth of November, Glover was 
elected President, in the place of Wells, who resigned that office ; and 
Heaphy and Chalon were raised to the rank of Members. 

The year 1 808 had not long opened, when another loss occurred 
by the death of the Associate Robert Freebairn, on the 23rd of January. 
It was in relation to this event that a rule was made, allowing 
the family of a deceased Member or Associate to exhibit works 

Q 



226 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

prepared by him for the gallery. Freebairn's widow, however, did not 
avail herself of the permission so given to her. He had exhibited 
only eight drawings during the two years of his Associateship, nearly 
all views in Italy, about Tivoli or Rome. 

The Society's numbers were soon replenished by the election, on 
the 29th of January, 1808, of two new Associates : John Augustus 
Atkinson, and William Turner. 

JOHN AUGUSTUS ATKINSON, besides being an oil painter, was 
a spirited and powerful sketcher of figures and figure groups, with pen 
and brush, in the line and wash manner so admirably adapted to 
reproduction by etching and aquatint engraving. ' His light touch,' 
says Seguier, ' appears to put everything in motion.' ' Born in 
London in 1775 (the birth-year of Turner, Girtin, Heaphy, and 
Reinagle), he had gone to Russia when nine years old, and been 
patronised by the Empress Catherine, and also by the Emperor Paul 
after her death in 1796. He had studied in the gallery at St. Peters- 
burg, and there are two pictures by him of subjects from Russian 
history in the Michael's Palace. A Russian edition of Hudibras, 
published in 1798 at Konigsberg, is mentioned as illustrated by him. 3 
In the year of Paul's assassination, 1801, Atkinson came home with 
sketch-books full of sketches of costumes, and memoranda of social 
habits and military scenes, which supplied him with much of 
the material for the works whereby he became known in his own 
country. 

In 1803-4 he brought out, in conjunction with one James Walker 
(no relation to William), who had gone to St. Petersburg in the same 
year to be engraver to the Empress, and returned at about the same 
time, A Picturesque Representation of the Manners, Ciistoms, and 
Amusements of the Russians, in 100 coloured plates, which (in an 
edition dated 1812) fill three folio volumes. Another publication 
in the same style, called A Picturesque Representation of the Naval, 
Military, and Miscellaneous Costumes of Great Britain, was now in 
course of publication. Volume I., published 1807, contains 50, the 
complete work too, coloured plates. 

In the same year he had produced a series of sixteen coloured 
engravings, 3 to illustrate separately, or bind up with, the two volumes 

1 Dictionary (i8",o). 2 Redgrave's Dictionary of the English School. 

1 Published by Miller in Albemarle Street. 



CH. II IN PALL MALL AND BOND STREET, 1807, 1808 227 

of Beresford's amusing book, The Miseries of Human Life. They 
are etched in soft-ground, and the shadows aquatinted ; and in their 
graceful composition, freedom of touch, and delicacy of colour, they 
bear some resemblance to the best designs of Rowlandson, without his 
coarseness. There is also a folding frontispiece, so etched, by him and 
coloured, to an edition of Stultifera Navis, 8vo, 1807. Since 1803 he 
had exhibited from three to six works a year at the Royal Academy ; 
comprising scenes from classic history, modern military subjects, and 
picturesque groups. 

WILLIAM TURNER, it need scarcely be said, was not the great 
painter of that name. He is usually, by way of distinction, called 
' Turner of Oxford,' having been born (at Blackbourton) in that 
county on the I2th of November, 1789; and having resided (near 
Woodstock) in the same county during the greater part of his life. 
He was as yet a very young landscape painter, and had just com- 
pleted a term of apprenticeship to John Varley, being one of the 
earliest of a series of pupils whom that artist had begun to receive 
into his house for training as artists. He is chiefly remembered in 
the gallery by his later drawings, generally extensive views, very 
painstaking and conscientious, but of a realistic kind, and wanting 
in interest as works of art. But his early drawings possess a certain 
grandeur and a breadth of composition, obviously the result of the 
good training he had thus received. In three of the drawings' which 
the young artist exhibited on joining the Society, John Landseer finds 
the ' wide range of capacity and contrivance, of a veteran landscape 
painter to whom nature has become familiar ; ' adding, more specific- 
ally : ' By the dint of his superior art he has rolled such clouds over 
these landscapes as has given to a flat country an equal grandeur 
with mountain scenery, while they fully account for the striking and 
natural effects of light and shade which he has introduced. His 
colouring ' adds the critic, ' is grave, subdued, and such as properly 
belongs to landscapes of a majestic character.' a 

For the exhibition of 1808, the Society had again to shift their 
quarters, the old Academy rooms being reported by their surveyor to 
be in a dangerous condition, and unfit for further use. After some 

1 ' Cornfield near Woodstock,' ' Ottmoor, near Oxford,' and ' Whichwood Fcrest, Oxford- 
shire' (exhibited 1808, 1809). 

1 The Review of Publications in Art (1808), p. 288. 

Q2 



228 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

inquiry as to the cost of building a gallery, although the Society had 
no funds for that purpose, the Committee engaged for that season, at 
the rent of 400 guineas, two large rooms belonging to a Mr. Oakley, 
at No. 1 6 Old Bond Street, opposite Stafford Street ; and there 
the fourth exhibition was held. The aspect of the gallery at that 
time has been preserved to us in a view taken of it by Pugin with 
the Committee's sanction. It is enlivened with figures by Rowland- 
son, and forms one of a published series of coloured aquatints, 
commenced this year and continued till 1810, by these two artists, 
under the title Microcosm of London. The number of the house, for 
a wonder, is unchanged, and it now contains a lofty, well-proportioned 
show-room, the length of which is at right angles to the street. This 
may have been, formerly, the ' two large rooms ' so used. 

The plate above referred to is numbered 34 in the series, and 
entitled ' Exhibition of Water-colour Drawings in Old Bond Street,' 
with the imprint 'London, Pub. 1st Sepf 1808 at R. Ackermann's 
Repository of Arts, 101 Strand.' ' Rowlandson et Pugin del* et 
sculp*. Stadler Aquat.' It is accompanied by a short account of 
the origin and constitution of the Society, and to this is appended a 
notice of the inauguration of a second water-colour exhibition which 
had sprung into existence in the same season. As many mistakes 
have arisen from a confusion between this short-lived rival institution 
and the Society whereof the annals are here being traced, as accurate 
a synopsis of its history will be included in this volume as can be 
obtained from the rather scanty records which still survive. 

The movement which gave rise to this new institution has its 
counterpart in the formation of more than one body established in 
modern times with a similar object. So far, the progress of the 
original Society had continued without let or hindrance, and the 
obvious advantages of belonging to it could not fail to excite emula- 
tion, and probably some envy, among those in the profession who were 
left outside the charmed circle. To these, the exclusive nature of the 
constitution, under which its walls were reserved entirely for Members 
and Associates, appeared to leave room for another exhibition, still 
confined to water-colour drawings, but on a more enlarged plan, and 
practically open to all members of the profession. It was thought, 
moreover, that a society formed on a more comprehensive scale would 
ensure a variety the want of which was perceptible in the existing 
exhibition, notwithstanding its acknowledged merit. This feeling 



CH. II IN PALL MALL AND BOND STREET, 1807, 1808 229 

took organic shape at a meeting, which was held on Wednesday the 
24th of June, 1807, at the Thatched House Tavern (one William 
Wood, a miniature painter, occupying the chair) and resulted in the 
following list of names being drawn up as those of the first members 
of a new association with the above objects : 



William James Bennett 
Henry Pierce Bone 
James Green 
J. Huet-Villiers 
J. Laporte 
Andrew Robertson 



W. J. Thompson 
William Walker 
Walter H. Watts 
H. W. Williams 
William Wood 



At a second or adjourned meeting, held on the 1st of July, it was 
resolved that the Society should be confined to proficient artists in 
water-colours or chalks, and it seems to have been at this time 
intended to make a direct attack upon the status of the existing body, 
by the assumption, without qualification, of the same title that it 
had chosen, ' The Society of Painters in Water-Colours' It is probable 
that this assumption has been at the root of some of the confusion 
above mentioned as existing between the two Societies. But the 
title was soon modified, and abandoned. First it was changed to 
' The Nezv Society of Painters in Miniature and Water-Colours ; ' and 
then, on the I4th of January, 1808, a resolution was passed : 'That 
the temporary title of the Society be discontinued, and the 
following adopted in its room : ASSOCIATED ARTISTS IN WATER- 
COLOURS.' Another source of confusion lies in the fact that the 
' Associated Artists ' came into visible being at the very same place 
as the original Society. They, too, held their first exhibition at Mr. 
Tresham's rooms, No. 20 Lower Brook Street, and they also after- 
wards removed to Bond Street, occupying there, for at least three 
years, the Society's former quarters at No. 16. 

Except that the number of members was to be without limit, and 
was to be increased from time to time by the addition of those among 
the exhibitors whose works should be most conspicuous, the laws of 
the new Society were for the most part similar to those of the old. A 
higher tribute was however paid to the capacity of its lady-members, 
who were held entitled to vote on all occasions with the lords of the 
creation. 

The first exhibition was optncd on the 2$th of April, 1808. The 



230 



THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 



BK. IV 



number of exhibited works was 273, among which miniatures 
played an important part. 

There were then eighteen members ; and to these were added 
another eighteen as ' fellow-exhibitors.' The following are the two 
lists, as given in the catalogue. 



MEMBERS. 



William Wood, President 

James Green, Treasurer 

Andrew Robertson, Secretary 

William James Bennett ' 

Henry P. Bone 

Alfred Chalon 

Mrs. Green 

J. Huet-Villiers 

John Laporte 



Samuel Owen 
John Papvvorth 
Miss Emma Smith 
William John Thomson 
William Walker, junior^ 
Walter Henry Watts 
William Westall ' 
H. W. Williams a 
Andrew Wilson 



W. Annis 
Tho. Baxter 
R. Dagley 
P. Dewint ' 
Geo. Dinsdale 
L. Francia 
Miss Gartside 
E. Goodwin 
J. Hewlett 



EXHIBITORS. 

J. Holmes 1 
J. Leschallas 
Fred. Nash ' 
Wm. Pearson 
Jos. Powell 
J. C. Schetky 
J. Clarendon Smith 
D. Thompson 
C. Turner 



Among the above names will be recognized those of some artists 
with whom we have already made acquaintance. Among them are 
Alfred E. Chalon (John's more distinguished brother), and the draw- 
ing master Laporte. There is also Louis Francia, whose career has 
been sketched in connexion with Girtin's. Samuel Owen was another 
sea-painter in whose works may be recognized the same fine feeling 
for composition that was displayed by the master just named : and 
John Christian Schekty was an eminent and loving depicter of the 

1 These were all in after times Members or Associates of the Water-Colour Society. 

2 Hugh William Williams (born 1773, died 1829), known as 'Grecian Williams,' and 
afterwards in much repute in Edinburgh, was an unsuccessful candidate for the Water-Colour 
Society in 1807. (Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists.) 



CH. II IN PALL MALL AND BOND STREET, 1807, 1808 231 

wooden walls of England. 1 Henry P. Bone (afterwards Court enamel- 
painter, as his father, Henry Bone, R.A., was before him) and John 
Buonarotti Papivortli (architect and ornamental draftsman) are other 
well-known names in the list of members ; and of some of the 
remainder much will be said in future chapters. 

An advertisement, of which the following is the material part, was 
prefixed to the catalogue : ' The members of this Society think it 
proper to state, that in forming the present exhibition they were not 
influenced by any sentiment of hostility or opposition to the society 
which originated a few years ago under a similar appellation. The 
rapid advance which this class of art had made, its powers of reach- 
ing greater excellence, if judiciously employed, and the propriety of 
separating drawings and pictures in water-colours from the immediate 
contact of those produced with other materials, were probably the 
motives for forming that society : the same opinions, the same feelings 
led to the association of the artists, who now, for the first time as a 
distinct body, submit their works to public inspection. . . . 

' The Society will listen with respectful deference to the public 
opinion, and repeat or withdraw their pretensions accordingly." 

A contemporary writer, favourable to the new scheme, declares 
that in its first year the Associated Artists ' met with encouragement 
similar to that which the prior establishment had experienced.' 2 It 
did not however last more than five years. But, during that period, 
the exhibitors, of one class or the other, included a few artists of con- 
siderable note, and some who afterwards became members of the 
Water-Colour Society. 

Meanwhile the old Society, though moving from place to place, 
was in other respects making satisfactory progress. The number of 
admissions on payment in 1808 was one less than 19,000, and the 
profit divided more than 445/. At the anniversary meeting of the 
3Oth of November, Turner and Atkinson were made full Members ; 
and, on the resignation of Glover, Reinagle was elected President for 
the ensuing year. 

Four drawings in 1 808 were the last which the Society received 

1 Both these marine painters lived to a great age. Owen died in December 1857, in his 
ninetieth year, having long ceased to practise his art (Redgrave's Dictionary] ; and Schetky 
lived till his ninety-sixth year, dying in 1874 (see Ninety Years of Work and Play, a Life t 
J. C. Schetky, by his daughter). 

* Rfitrocosm of London, ii. 



232 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

from the hand of WILLIAM DELAMOTTE. He had contributed in 
all only eleven, and been but three years an Associate, never rising 
to the rank of Member. His subjects, after the first, were views on 
or near the Thames at Marlow &c., with two or three drawings from 
his Paris sketches in 1802. He continued his practice as landscape 
artist and teacher of drawing for many years after. On the reopening 
of the Continent to English travellers he was able to replenish his 
portfolio with foreign subjects. Some views in Belgium dated 1819 
are among his drawings at South Kensington. Graves finds seventy- 
three works by him recorded in the catalogues of the Royal Academy, 
British Institution, and Suffolk Street exhibitions, between 1793 and 
1850. 

A drawing of 'Christ Church Oxford, from Hinksey Meadows' 
(20^ x 29^ in.), on wire-wove paper, in the South Kensington Museum, 
justifies the description given by Redgrave 1 of the artist's early works 
as being ' in the manner of Girtin." ' Later,' adds the same writer, ' his 
landscapes were chiefly drawn with the pen and tinted, and were 
peculiar in style.' He lived to old age, dying on the I3th of 
February, 1863, at St. Giles's, near Oxford. 

The following prints in The Beauties of England and Wales are 
from Delamotte's drawings: 'Oxford, from Ferry Hinksey,' 1804; 
' View in Dovedale,' 1805 ; ' Tetbury ' (from a sketch by Prout), 1807 ; 
' Matlock Bath,' 1809. He published Thirty Etchings of Rural 
Subjects in 1816. Illustrations of Virginia Water, lithographed by 
W. Gauci, impl. 4to, 1828; and Original Views of Oxford, coloured 
lithographs, impl. folio, 1843, bear the name of ' W. A. Delamotte.' 

There are other artists of the same surname. A brother, who 
signed himself ' George O. de la Motte,' was also a landscape 
painter ; and a son, Philip Henry Delamotte, practised as a photo- 
grapher as well as a draftsman, and published many views, and 
some technical treatises. The latter died at Bromley in Kent on 
the 24th of February, 1889. There are moreover some works on 
ornament by F. or F. G. Delamotte, probably of the same family. 

1 Dictionary of the English School, 



CH. in 233 



CHAPTER III 
AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809 to 

At Wigley's Rooms Exhibition of 1809 -Testimonials Changes to 1812 Shelley dies 
Final biography Death of Paul Sandby Final biographies of retiring members W. H. 
Pyne Heaphy Biographies of new Members and Associates Thomas Uivins William 
Payne Edmund Dorrett Charles Wild Frederick Nash Peter De tVint Copley 
Fielding William Westall. 

THE Society enjoyed no rest, however, in their new quarters. They 
were unable to obtain the rooms from Mr. Oakley for the ensuing 
season, and being again cast adrift, they finally came ashore in Spring 
Gardens at the historic site of many an old exhibition ; where the 
Incorporated Society of Artists had held their shows for a long series 
of years ; where Girtin had spread his view of London ; and where, 
more recently, under the name of ' Wigley's Rooms,' a variety of mis- 
cellaneous sights had been offered to view. These rooms were in the 
last house on the right hand, adjoining the iron gateway from Spring 
Gardens into the Mall, there being then no building beyond, on the 
site now occupied by the offices of the London County Council. From 
this Mr. Wigley they hired the gallery, on a lease, at zoo/, for three 
months in each of the next fourteen years ; and from 1809 to 1820 
the exhibitions which form the main subject of this chronicle were 
held, as the catalogues have it, ' at the Great Rooms, Spring Gardens.' 
Exhibition galleries were usually called ' great rooms ' in those days. 
That at Spring Gardens was in size 58 by 44 feet. 

The Exhibition of 1809 was the most successful of any which the 
Society had yet held. The number of drawings amounted to 341 ; 
and a surplus of 626!. was divided among the members, whose feel- 
ings of satisfaction with the state of things and with one another 
found vent in testimonials of a substantial kind. The Secretary and 
Treasurer had already been voted an annual So/, each out of the 
profits ; in addition to which, a presentation of plate of the value of 
100 guineas was made by general subscription to Robert Hills, ' as a 
token of respect and gratitude for his unremitting services since the 



234 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

establishment of the Society in 1804." Hills, however, gracefully 
declining to accept both honoraria at the same time, the amount of 
his 5O/. salary was, at his suggestion, employed in providing a similar 
testimonial to R. R. Reinagle, the treasurer. Both presentations 
took place at the anniversary meeting in November. 

Within the period now commencing, although the local habitation 
remained the same, important changes were to take place in the con- 
stitution of the Society, as well as in the group of artists of which it 
was composed. Until 1812, an epoch to be borne in mind, when an 
absolute revolution took place which will presently be described, 
these changes were chiefly of the latter kind. In the course of the 
four years 1809 to 1812 the following fresh dozen of artists joined 
the Society as Associates : 

Thomas Uwins \ 

William Payne 

, ., Y . elected 15 Feb. 1809 

Edmund Dorrell 

Charles Wild 

Frederick Nash . . . . \ 

Peter De Wint . . . } 22 Jan. 1810 

Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding I 

William Westall iijune, 1810 

William Scott ,,30 Nov. 1810 

David Cox \ 

Luke Clennellf . ,' . . . 8 June, 1812 

C. Barber ) 

On 12 June, 1809, Stevens and Dorrell; on n June, 1810, Nash 
and Uwins; on 10 June, 1811, De Wint and Westall; and 8 June, 
1812, Wild and Pugin, were taken from the list of Associates and 
made into full Members ; the limit of number being, on the 2gth of 
November, 1810, extended from twenty-four to thirty, though 
in point of fact it never exceeded twenty-five. In the Presidential 
chair which had been filled from Nov. 1804 to March 1 806 by Gilpin, 
from that time till Nov. 1807 by Wells, and then till Nov. 1808 by 
Glover Reinagle sat from Nov. 1808 to the end of the term. The 
post of Treasurer was held by Shelley from Nov. 1804 to March 
1 807 ; by Reinagle from that time to Nov. 1 808 ; and by Rigaud to the 
end of the term. During the whole period the duties of Secretary 
were performed by Hills. 



CH. in AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 235 

Besides the expulsion of Nattes, the Society had, on the other 
hand, been weakened in numbers by several desertions, and by one 
death. The catalogue of 1808 is the last which contains the name 
of SAMUEL SHELLEY. Redgrave tells us that he died at his house 
in George Street on the 22nd of December, 1808, at the age of fifty- 
eight. 1 He had continued to adorn the walls of the galleries in Pall 
Mall and Bond Street with ideal studies and pleasing fancies inspired 
by Tasso and other poets, and in this last year again placed some 
professed portraits among the drawings he exhibited, notwithstanding 
their exclusion from a share of profits. But his works had no place 
in the series of exhibitions at Spring Gardens. His total number of 
drawings in the Society's gallery amounted to sixty-three. Shelley 
made some designs for book illustrations, and there are prints after 
him by Bartolozzi, Caroline Watson, Nattes, Collier, Heath, Engle- 
heart, Sherwin, Burke, and Knight. It is stated that of some of his 
works he was his own engraver. A pencil sketch by him of himself 
and his sister, purchased at Sotheby and Co.'s in November 1884, is 
in the writer's possession. 

Another noted life came to an end in the first year of the Spring 
Gardens exhibition. Old Paul Sandby was gathered to his fathers 
at the age of eighty-three in the late autumn of 1809. With him 
died out the prior generation of the water-colour school of which he 
had been in many respects the father. He had now survived his 
brethren and many of his artist progeny, and had even in his own 
practice somewhat outlived the method of art more peculiarly his 
own. The tree drawings he made in Windsor Park when more than 
seventy had chiefly been executed in distemper. He expired peace- 
fully, with faculties unimpaired, at his house in St. George's Row. 
The place where his body rests (on the eastern side of the cemetery 
behind, close to the path) is marked by a flat stone slab, plainly sup- 
ported by a few rows of bricks, and inscribed in very large letters 
with the simple words 

PAUL SANDBY, R.A. 

OBIIT NOVEMBER 

7 1809. 

1 Dictionary of English School. But the facts, first that Nagler gives the date 1810, and 
secondly, that a certain ' Dowager Lady Shelley ' died, according to the Annual Register 
(which docs not mention Samuel), on this 22 Dec. 1808, combine to raise a suspicion of error. 



236 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

Sandby's death occurred just seven years, less two days, after that of 
his bright young neighbour, Thomas Girtin. 

The name of another of its founders passes out of the Society's 
records during the period of removal from Bond Street to Spring 
Gardens. 1 On the nth of January, 1809, WILLIAM HENRY PYNE, 
the zealous promoter of its formation, chose to exemplify the alleged 
fickleness of his disposition by resigning his membership, and de- 
voting himself to pursuits still connected with art, but in which the 
work of the pen encroached on, and gradually superseded, that of 
the pencil. His contributions to the annual show, fifty-four in all, 
though ably executed, had been of minor attraction. Latterly, 
cottages are his favourite subjects. He had not, however, been idle 
in work for the press, and a series of books of small figures, chiefly 
designed for the use of students and landscape draftsmen, whereof 
the Microcosm, already mentioned, was the first, are the productions 
on which the reputation of his pencil chiefly rests. The following 
works were afterwards published by him in succession, viz. ' The 
Costume of Great Britain, designed engraved and written by W. H. 
Pyne,' imp. 4to, Miller, Albemarle Street, 1808. It contains sixty 
coloured aquatints, a single figure or group only on each plate, the 
dresses being those of various degrees, from a dustman to a peer of 
the realm. It is the seventh volume of a series of works on costume, 
the others being of China, Turkey, Russia, and Austria. ' W. H. Pyne 
on Rustic Figures in Imitation of Chalk,' 4to, Ackermann. In the 
preface the author draws a contrast between the study of drawing 
the ' classic or elegant ' and the ' rustic ' figure, the former being 
characterized by flowing lines and studied folds of drapery con- 
forming to the limbs, the latter demanding more abrupt lines, and 
the draperies, of coarser stuff, giving no indication of the wearer's 
shape. And he announces that, ' to facilitate the study of rustic 
figures,' he ' has modelled a number of characters selected from the 
English peasantry, on a scale of 8 inches in height, from which 
plaster casts are taken, for the purpose of assisting young persons in 
acquiring the art of grouping, and to improve them in the study of light 
and shadow.' These were to be had at Ackermann's, the publisher. 
The thirty-six plates in this work appear to be soft-ground etchings, 

1 On one subsequent occasion, namely in 1815, Pyne contributed two works to the Spring 
Gardens gallery, but not as a member of the Society. 



CH. in AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 



237 



helped with the roulette, chiefly single figures for drawing copies, in 
the 'slight manner' recommended. They are dated 1813, though 
the title-page (of one edition at least) has the date 1817. ' Etchings 
of Rustic Figures for the Embellishment of Landscape. By W. H. Pyne, 
Author of the " Microcosm of Arts," &c.,' imp. 8vo, M. A. Nattali, 
23 Bedford Street, Covent Garden. This work contains sixty plates 
of figures and groups, boats, carts, &c., pure hard-ground etchings. 
They are dated 1814 and 1815. An edition was published in 
1819. 

As a practical artist he did little more, though he continued to 
labour in the cause of art till a late period of his life as a writer 
and conductor of works for the press. In 1819 was also published 
an elaborate work in three royal quarto volumes : ' The History of the 
Royal Residences of Windsor Castle, St. James's Palace, Carlton 
House, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, Buckingham House, 
and Frogmore." It was illustrated by one hundred coloured aquatints, 
to which Pyne supplied the letterpress, and a strong group of 
members of the Water-Colour Society 1 provided the illustrations. 
Though the author was in this case his own publisher, the book 
belongs to the same group as a series of works which emanated from 
Ackermann's firm during the first quarter of the century, and in the 
projection whereof Pyne is said to have borne a considerable share. 2 
They will be referred to more fully by-and-by. The following letter 
to his friend Jerdan, the editor of the Literary Gazette, referring to 
the progress of this work, is characteristic of the writer : ' My dear 
Sir, 1 have sent some account of Windsor, which I request you to 
read over carefully. I have marked the quotations all the way. 
Please make what alterations you may think necessary in the pro- 
logue, which is vastly modest. I had written something for Hampton 
Court, but determined yesterday afternoon to begin with the beginning. 
So all that I had gotten for the Literary Gazette will do for another 
occasion. I much wish to see you, but am so incessantly engaged, 
being on the very point of finishing my work, that I must postpone 
that pleasure for two or three days. I have written out some sheets 
of my CROOKED TELESCOPE, which I am Jack ass enough to 

1 Wild, Westall, Pugin, Mackenzie, Nash, and Stephanoff, were among the draftsmen 
employed. 

2 There is a plate after \V. II. Pyne in Ackermann's History of the University of Cam- 
bridge, 1815. 



238 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

think very witty and very pithy and very original, and, in short, what 
you cannot attack in INK POT MALICE. 

' Yours very faithfully, 

' W. H. PYNE. 

'July 22, 1819. 
' In great great great haste. 

'J. JERDAN, Esq., Upper Queen's Buildings, Brompton.' 

This particular work turned out to be a disastrous speculation, 
and involved him in difficulties which he was never able to overcome. 1 
He afterwards employed his pen chiefly as a journalist and critical 
writer on art. As a gossiping historian of the earlier days of the 
British school, he handed down to later generations, though in a 
desultory fashion, a valuable record, derived from the experience of 
his youth and the current hearsay of his older companions. Adopt- 
ing the nom deplume ' Ephraim Hardcastle' (citizen and drysalter), 
he wrote a series of papers in the Literary Gazette, which were after- 
wards collected into two octavo volumes, and published by Longman 
and Co., in 1823, under the title Wine and Walnuts. Then came 
the ' Somerset House Gazette ; Weekly Miscellany of Fine Arts, 
Antiquities, and Literary Chit-chat,' the first number of which was 
dated II October, 1823. In it was absorbed in the following February 
an existing paper called the 'Literary Museum,' and it came out 
weekly under a joint title until No. 52, dated 2nd October, 1824. 
A continuation was announced, but is not known to have been ever 
issued, and the year's work now fills the two small-quarto volumes 
which there has been such frequent occasion to quote in these pages 
It was published by William Wetton in Fleet Street, opposite St. 
Dunstan's Church. Pyne, who edited and probably wrote most of 
the work, already announces himself in the first number as one of 
the 'virtuosi greybeards.' He was then fifty-four, and he lived 
twenty years longer, contributing to other publications which followed, 
namely, Arnold's 'Library of the Fine Arts' and 'Magazine of the 
Fine Arts' and ' Fraser's Magazine!' 1 In 1825 he published his 
last entire book, ' The Twenty-ninth of May ; Rare Doings at the 
Restoration, by Ephraim Hardcastle,' 2 vols. 8vo. 



1 He had announced a second series, to be called ' Interior Views of the most magnificent 
Seats of the Nobility and Gentry throughout Great Britain.' See Elmes's Annals of the 
Fine Arts (1816). 

' The Greater and Lesser Stars of Old Pall Mall ' is the title of his last paper in Fraser. 



CH. in AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1811 239 

Sad to relate, Pyne's ' latter days ' were, as his friend John Britton 
expressed it, ' clouded by misfortune.' l 

The following letter to ' W. Jerdan Esq., Grove House, Brompton,' 
bearing the postmark of /th May, 1828, was written from the 
King's Bench prison, and speaks for itself: ' My dear Sir, Our friend 
Mr. Hunt has written to me thus : " Funds are ready for your relief, 
and if Forty pounds will extricate you that sum can be had instanter." 
He further says, " I am to say how and when the issues are to be 
made " etc. I have written to say that a sum not exceeding five 
pounds would be immediately most useful, as I have demands upon 
me here, and the residue will be no less beneficial at home, as I left 
Mrs. Pyne destitute of means. I have some employment which will, 
I believe, secure me three pounds per week, so that I trust two 
pounds weekly from you, my worthy banker, will supply the wants of 
myself and family. This place, with the most rigid economy, is yet 
expensive. Fortunately I have obtained a room to myself, in which 
I am occupied in painting and drawing. Had I not found a 
Samaritan here, in Mr. Hopwood, late a sheriff's officer, I know not 
what I should have done. He kindly advanced me the needful, and I 
have repaid him in part. I shall hope to have occasion therefore to 
draw upon the said fund of 4O/. only two pounds weekly. This gift, 
thus spontaneously bestowed through your friendly zeal, I receive 
with thanks indeed ! I feel proud in thus obtaining it, as it leads me 
to think that in the extremity of my misfortune I have not lost the 
esteem of good men, a blessing only to be duly estimated by one 
circumstanced like myself. The money thus obtained will enable 
me to go through the necessary ordeal to extricate me. I did, on the 
receipt of Mr. Hunt's letter, employ my attorney to give notice of my 
taking the benefit of the Insolvent Act, and my notice is signed and 
delivered. I trust that I shall be liberated within seven weeks. My 
attorney has engaged, and will give it to you and Mr. Hunt in 
writing, to do the whole within fifteen pounds. He thinks that the 
sum will not exceed twelve. So that I hope there will remain some- 
thing at the period of my liberation. Once more then, my dear 
Jerdan, I thank you, and remain, as ever, Your obliged and faithful 

servant, 

'W. H. PYNE. 

A graphic picture of poor Pyne's condition some half-dozen years 

' Britton's Autobiography, Part II. p. 183. 



240 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

later, and of his brave struggling against evil fortune, is given in the 
following long epistle addressed to worthy John Britton at ' Burton 
Street (or Place), Burton Crescent,' and dated 'October 30, 1835.' 
The writer is again in the debtors' prison, though he gives as his 
address ' 32 Dudley Grove, Paddington.' ' Dear Sir, I take the 
liberty to write to you again, in conformity with that I said in my 
last, and feel assured you will read what I shall pen, with your 
accustomed kindness. I write without reserve, which I venture to 
think will be more agreeable to you, than if I were to use compli- 
ments and flattery, and therefore beg to observe that it would not 
surprise me if you were to entertain an opinion that a man of talent 
with suitable industry and economy might contrive in such an 
enlightened age as the present to obtain a living, or at least avoid 
getting into debt. You indeed, and I say it in honest sincerity, are 
amongst those who might be forgiven for holding such an opinion, 
because it must be pretty generally known that you have practised 
these moral virtues, or your condition would not be so favourable as 
you have yourself expressed it to be I quote from your own con- 
fessions, on reading that sketch of your life which you kindly 
presented to me. 

' I have been both industrious and frugal, and yet at my advanced 
period of life I have nothing left of that private fortune which ought 
perhaps, with more foresight than I ever possessed, to have maintained 
me ; but I entered into speculations which were not sufficiently con- 
sidered, and the result has been only the experience of varied misfor- 
tune. I have indeed exerted my capacity to avert these evils, and 
have as worthy a wife, and two daughters, in every domestic respect, 
as ever man was blessed with, and yet we cannot, or at least have not 
prospered. I trouble you with these statements, lest your own 
honourable career should lead you to misgivings as to my prudence 
in the management of the means I have possessed. But should you 
so have thought, permit me to say, in behalf of myself and family, 
that we have mixed as little in the gaieties of life as though we were 
of the persuasion of the Quakers. My daughters, though accom- 
plished women, were never at a public ball ; we have never been at any 
watering-place, nor at any other [sic], excepting two or three concerts. 
Never together at any play-house. Have faith in me, moreover, 
though I should desire it not to be made generally known, that from 
the time of my reverses, namely, the failure of my work on the 



en. in AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 241 

Palaces, I have not purchased one single bottle of wine nor owed for 
one directly or indirectly. I could not afford to drink wine, and I 
would not go into debt for such a luxury. More than this, not one 
shilling has been owing by my wife or daughters for dress of any sort 
or kind ; all my expenses have been for the necessaries of life in 
supporting one daughter for many years afflicted with the tic dolour eux, 
and another, a widow, and her son (a youth now dead), and the mother 
engaged with the partners in his late concern in a chancery suit, not 
having received a shilling from the concern from the time of his 
death, now more than twelve years. This daughter has contributed 
to our means by going out as a governess, and the house which I 
hold on lease at Dudley Grove, the property of a worthy friend, was 
taken under the hope of my two daughters being enabled to establish 
a day school for young ladies, and we hope, and indeed expect it will 
succeed. Now my Dear Sir, the drift of these explanations is, to 
endeavour to shew to you the rectitude of our little family compact, 
as the best, and only warrantry I can bring before you, for again 
asking you to use your kind offices in my behalf, knowing, or hearing 
at least that there is to be a meeting of the worthy gentlemen who 
compose the Committee of the Benevolent Literary Fund Society, 
when I venture to solicit a renewal of your benevolent exertions in 
my behalf. 

' I have lost too much time of late in preparing two works. 
Indeed I have bestowed nearly fourteen months upon them ; the one 
a plan for teaching the polite arts and sciences by the aid of wood- 
cuts the other, an illustration of the Holy Bible. I have submitted 
each to Messrs. Longman and to others, who have expressed their 
approval of their originality but decline engaging to take them 
entirely in consequence of the probable out-lay for so extensive a 
number of blocks. Thus I have been diligent as it were, in doing of 
nothing. I hope, however, that the work which I am now upon I 
mean the graphic Wine and Walnuts, will be successful ; all without 
exception who I have made acquainted with the plan, urge me to pro- 
ceed, upon their opinion that it will meet with very extensive support. 
It has pleased God to bless me with health, and as I believe I said 
before, my mental en[ergies] are not at all diminished, and I hope very 
soon to commence upon the etching of two plates as specimens. I 
shall adopt your advice, and publish them as facsimiles three plates 
for one guinea, and the twelve celebrated clubs to make a volume, 

R 



242 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

with letter-press historically descriptive of each. My only anxiety is 
to procure some little funds to enable me to begin ; and I have the 
courage to believe that, once set a going, I shall obtain a good sub- 
scription. The worst of my tale is yet untold for I am at this 
moment a prisoner in the King's Bench ; although to alleviate my 
sorrow I have a room to myself and, by the goodness of the Marshal, 
such facilities, as will enable me to proceed with my studies undis- 
turbed. I remain, Dear Sir, your obliged friend and servant, 

W. H. PYNE. 

'To J. Britton, Esq.' 

These sanguine schemes, it need hardly be said, came to naught ; 
and even the blessing of health, which he so piously acknowledged, 
was taken from him ; for it is recorded to have been ' after a long and 
depressing illness ' l that he died at Paddington, aged seventy-four, on 
the very anniversary that he had celebrated in his last book, ' the 
29th of May,' 1843. 

A subscription had been raised for his benefit, to which Britton 
contributed ; and in his last year (June 1842) a sum of 2O/. was 
voted for his relief by the Water-Colour Society, on his daughter's 
representation that he was 'in a state of old age, incapacity, and 
extreme distress. 1 

Another member who deserted the Society was THOMAS HEAPHY. 
He resigned just at the end of the above-mentioned term, namely, on 
the loth of February, 1812, after having exhibited from five to thir- 
teen works yearly since his election, making forty in all. They had 
formed a distinct feature in the exhibitions, and their value stood 
high in the market. 

' We have a distinct recollection,' says Pyne, 2 ' of the favourable 
impression which the works of this artist wrought upon the admirers 
of water-colour paintings. 3 . . . For three or four successive seasons, 
the high prices which were paid for his novel designs were sufficient 
proofs of public approbation.' This, however, he regards as ' not 
entirely complimentary to public taste ; for,' says he, ' many of the 

1 Redgrave's Dictionary of the English School. 

* Somerset House Gazette, i. 194. 

' The writer includes the ' first opening of the exhibition in Brook Street.' But here his 
memory is at fault. Heaphy did not join the Society until they had left their first quarters 
for Pall Mall. 



CH. in AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 243 

compositions of his ingenious hand represented scenes in low life 
which, although depicted with great observance of character and 
truth of expression, yet, being destitute of that moral point which 
characterizes the works of the incomparable Hogarth, were disgusting 
to good feeling and repulsive to delicate sentiment.' But he cites his 
water-colour drawings of this period as examples of brilliancy and 
harmony of colouring attainable in that medium. 1 

Heaphy's contempt of ' academic art ' was not reciprocated by its 
professors, at least not by President West, who expressed his great 
admiration of a ' spirited little composition ' by this artist, called 
' Boys disputing over their Day's Sport,' which was exhibited in Bond 
Street in 1808; and the encomium being spread about among the 
crowd of persons of high rank who were present, his fame was at 
once established. 2 The next year, 1 809, at Spring Gardens his 
drawing of the ' Fish Market ' at Hastings was also highly praised by 
West, who said of it to Pyne, ' Sir, the subject is so well treated in 
its way, the expression is so complete, and the colouring and harmony 
are so pure and so perfect that it leaves one nothing to wish.' 3 This 
picture has been considered his chef-tfceuvre, and it was bought by 
Mr. Wheeler of Gloucester Place for four or five hundred guineas. 
The titles of many of his other works, such as ' Robbing a Market 
Girl,' and its companion, ' Young Gamblers,' 1807 ; ' Disappointment, 
or the Lease refused,' ' The Poacher alarmed,' ' Chiding the Favourite,' 
'The Lout's Reward,' 1808 ;' Family Doctress,' 1809 ;' The Proposal/ 
' The Mother's Prayer,' 1810 ; ' Scene round a Fish Tub, Symptoms of 
a Broomstick Wedding,' 'The Happy Meeting,' 1811; and others, 
seem to aim at a kind of popularity which one is not apt to associate 
with the highest appreciation of art. One of the above, the ' Family 
Doctres?,' is possibly the drawing, now at South Kensington, con- 
fessedly rechristened ' The Wounded Leg.' 

After his success with the ' Hastings Fish Market,' the sale of 
Heaphy's works for some reason declined, and his pictures remained 
on his hands. In 1813 he had an exhibition of them at the old 
Academy Rooms, where the Society had been located in the first 
year of his Associateship. The result does not seem to have been 
such as to encourage the composition of more subject-pieces, for he 

1 Somerset House Gazette, i. 114. 2 Ibid. p. 194. 

1 Ibid. ' Poor West used to overwhelm young men with flattery, and often spoil them." 
Memoir of Uwins, ii. 114. 

K 2 



244 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

now turned his attention again more exclusively to portrait-painting, 
and sought a more promising field of operations. After leaving the 
Society, he accompanied the British army during the war in the 
Peninsula, in order to portray the chief officers engaged therein. He 
was with the troops during most of the operations till the battle of 
Toulouse, and at the close of the war returned to England and 
painted a large water-colour picture of the Duke of Wellington and 
his staff, the engraving from which is well known. In February 
1821, he began an issue in numbers, each containing six heads in 
black and white chalk, of ' Studies from Nature of the British 
Character, consisting of soldiers who have fought under the Duke of 
Wellington, sailors, and rustics.' ' 

He afterwards entered into some building speculations in the then 
almost uninhabited district of St. John's Wood, and may be said for 
some years to have nearly relinquished painting. The result was 
what might have been expected. On resuming the brush, while yet 
in the prime of life, he exclaimed with grief, ' My power has gone 
from me.' But he did not abandon art. He was among the 
originators of the Society of British Artists, was their first president 
in 1823, and exhibited fourteen works at their gallery in Suffolk Street. 
In 1831 he joined the 'New Society of Painters in Water-Colours' 
(now the Royal Institute), and in November 1835 departed this life. 
In his later time he evinced a higher appreciation of the old masters 
than he had professed in his youth, by the earnestness and avidity 
with which he made copies of their works during a visit he then paid 
to Italy. 2 

A son of his, T. F. Heaphy, practised art as an original painter 
and as a picture restorer, and was the author of several books. 3 

Thus much for the departed. Among the artists who joined the 
Society in the latter part of its first period, were one or two whose 
names are ordinarily used to indicate its golden era. Cox and De Whit, 
and Copley Fielding, were indeed made Associates before the close of 
the period, and De Wint was for one year a full Member. But Cox 
came too late to have any place in this series of exhibitions, and 

1 Ackermann's Repository, xi. 128. 

2 In Ackermann's Repository for February 1821 is announced 'Studies of Character and 
Expression from the Old Masters,' by Heaphy. 

3 There is an account of him and them in Redgrave's Dictionary (and edit.), and in 
the Athenceum, 13 August, 1881 ; see also Notes and Que,ie$, 6th series, iv. 508. 



CH. in AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 245 

De Wint and Fielding appear only in three out of four of those held at 
Spring Gardens during the period in question. The great majority of 
the Associates elected, as above mentioned, from 1809 to 1812 belong, 
as before, to the department of landscape, two only being figure- 
painters, and one of these, Clennell, elected (like Cox) too late to 
exhibit at all. But the names of De Wint and Cox, and Clennell also, 
were already before the public, for they had all been exhibiting with 
success in the rival society of the ' Associated Artists." 

The new figure-painter who contributed to our gallery was 
THOMAS UwiNS, who nearly thirty years after became a Royal 
Academician. When he began to exhibit with the Water-Colour 
Society, in 1809, he was a man of twenty-seven, known as a graceful 
designer, at this time chiefly employed (by J. Walker of Paternoster 
Row, and others) in making designs for book-illustration, 1 of the 
school that acknowledged the leadership of Stothard ; whom he 
followed without imitating, either in style or treatment. He drew 
the very pretty faces 2 and figures in the coloured fashion-plates of 
Ackermann's Repository, in which periodical he moreover wrote critical 
articles. He also copied pictures for engravers, 3 a practice in which 
many of our best painters in water-colours found profitable employ- 
ment at a time when line engraving was still held in general esteem 
as a living art. 

Thomas Uwins was the fourth and youngest child of a clerk in 
the Bank of England, who bore the same name, and lived at Hermes 
Hill, Pentonville ; where this boy, one of three, was born on the 24th 
of February, 1782. His father's calling, and the classic fitness in the 
appellation of his own birthplace, may lead one to assume that he 
too would have been dedicated to the shrine of commerce, had not a 
capacity for art been found within him on a timely occasion. This 
discovery was made one day by an Italian refugee, who taught his 
sister drawing. Miss Uwins was being educated for a teacher of 

1 There is an edition of the works of 'Peter Pindar' in 4 vols. I2mo, 1809, with 
vignettes by Uwins. 

2 Ackermann, in his German English, called them Uwins's ' britty vaces,' and paid for 
the tinted drawings at the rate of half a crown apiece. The artist had not only to draw but 
collect the dresses he depicted. (Memoir of Uwins, by his widow, i. 23, 24, 46.) 

3 In or about 1810, he copied in Indian ink, for Charles Warren, Barry's big painting of 
the ' Grecian Harvest Home ' at the Society of Arts, thereby relieving Wilkie, who had 
undertaken the work, but left it for his own natural domain of art. He also copied in 
water-colours Hilton's ' Europa ' in Sir John Leicester's gallery. (Ibid. p. 25.) 



246 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

young ladies, and flower-painting being considered the most profit- 
able branch for her to study with that object, some ' copies ' of 
another kind which the master had with him when he came to give 
her a lesson, chanced to fall under her brother's eye. He ' began to 
look over them, borrowed a pencil, and very quietly set himself to 
copy the limbs and faces of figures.' The drawing- master, on seeing 
what the boy had done, was ' greatly surprised,' and told his mother 
that ' this child ought to have the best instruction, and would most 
assuredly excel in art.' Tom Uwins was then about nine, and had to 
be given a general education as well. So he was sent, with his 
brothers, for six years to Mr. Crole's academy in Queen's Head Lane, 
Islington. But his mother, who seems (after the nature of artists' 
mothers) to have been more pleased than his father with the above 
prophecy, took care to get him some instruction in drawing at the 
same time, not only in the class there, but from a master on half- 
holidays. The teacher so employed was honest enough to declare, 
after six months, that he could teach him nothing more, and would 
not rob his parents by pretending to do so. 

In 1797, when he was fifteen, Uwins was bound apprentice, at a 
premium of 100 guineas, to an engraver, one Benjamin Smith, living 
in Judd Place, 1 New Road. Smith, though himself possessed of no 
great talent, had some good engravers as pupils. Among them were 
William Holl and Henry Meyer, the former of whom was, in Uwins's 
time, employed as an assistant, but was in fact the chief instructor. 
There was also an occasional assistant, called R. Syer, from whom 
Uwins declared that he ' learned more of art than from any other 
person.' Smith was then doing work, or getting it done, for Alder- 
man Boydell, and there is a plate, in the Shakspere series, of ' Richard 
surrendering his Crown to Bolingbroke,' after Mather Brown, which 
(having been begun by a friend and fellow-pupil, R. C. Roffe) was 
finished by Uwins. But he disliked this kind of work, and, worry- 
ing himself over it into an attack of jaundice, had to be released 
after one year's servitude; when he exchanged the burin for the 
brush. 

While at Smith's, he had diligently practised his drawing after the 

daily ten hours of drudgery there were over, and would even employ 

his pencil at tea-time in sketching the cups and saucers. It is 

possible that now, when enabled to devote himself to congenial 

1 The number was 21, afterwards changed to 74. 



CH. Ill AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 247 

branches of art, he became one of Simpson's pupils at the school 
in Finsbury, where Heaphy received instruction. 1 Like his alleged 
fellow-pupil, he too became afterwards (in 1798) a student at the 
Royal Academy. And now again the careers of the two artists were 
to run parallel for a short period in the annals of the Water-Colour 
Society, where Heaphy was Uwins's proposer as an Associate. 

While at the. Academy, Uwins attended Sir Charles Bell's ana- 
tomical class, and his drawings of the muscles were much praised 
for their truthfulness by that eminent surgeon, himself an excellent 
artist. He had begun also to try his hand at likenesses in water- 
colours when he was quite a boy, and is said to have ' supported 
himself by miniature portraits and by teaching before he was 
twenty.' But his chief delight was found in original design. 

During the four years 1809-1812, Uwins exhibited at the Water- 
Colour Society forty-three separate drawings (seven of them being 
small ones, grouped together, more than one in a frame). Eight, in 
1 8 1 1, represented scenes from Shakspere. Others were illustrations of 
Fielding, Sterne, &c. Rural industries of his time and country, hop 
and fruit pickers, plaiters, gleaners, and the like, supplied him with 
picturesque figure studies and groups, that made up nearly all the 
rest of his contributions. In treating subjects of the latter class he 
showed a refinement which in some measure associates his work with, 
but does not make it resemble, that of Cristall, who was beginning to 
cultivate a like field, in a spirit more severely classical. 

The name of one of the remaining landscape painters, WILLIAM 
PAYNE, recalls an earlier age of the present history. He is known 
to the reader as one of the improvers of water-colour drawing, who 
helped to adapt it to a wider range of landscape than had come 
within the scope of the old topographers, and as a very fashionable 
teacher of showy ways of handling the brush, and contrasting bright 
colours with the tempering aid of his favourite 'grey.' But his 
practice latterly had taken a downward course. Like many a pro- 
mising painter, having once secured his standing in the profession, 
he seems to have attained the summit of his ambition. He had 
ceased to be a student, and become a professor with a settled style of 
painting, to which nature had thenceforth to conform. Content to 
repeat himself, he had allowed his art to degenerate, as it always 

' See supra, p. 218, n. 2. 



248 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

does in such a case. His painting, which had depended for some 
of its attraction upon manual dexterity and tricks of the brush, 
became absolute mannerism. He was surpassed by better artists, 
and forgotten before he died. 

During the four years of his short connexion with the Water- 
Colour Society, he remained an Associate only From 1809 to 1811 
he had five drawings each year, and in 1812 he had two, making 
seventeen in all. They were nearly all views in Devon and Cornwall, 
with three or four in Wales. Often, like Glover, he specifies the time 
of day or the weather, three being 'moonlights.' One was a pro- 
fessed ' composition,' and another represented ' Banditti.' The South 
Kensington Gallery possesses eight of his drawings. 1 

According to Graves, Payne exhibited, between 1776 and 1830, 
ninety-one works : seventeen at the Society of Artists, twenty-two 
at th^ Royal Academy, fifty at the British Institution, and two at 
Suffolk Street. The dates of his birth and death have not been 
ascertained. 2 

EDMUND DORRELL was another of the many good artists who 
have been induced by a natural longing to take up the brush in pre- 
ference to the occupations designed for them by the guardians of their 
youth. He was brought up by an uncle, who intended to make him 
a doctor, having himself a good medical practice at Warwick, where 
Dorrell was born in 1778 ; but helped him to be a painter when he 
discovered his bent. Dorrell had begun to exhibit at the Royal 
Academy in 1807. He sent thirty-nine drawings to the Water- 
Colour Society's four exhibitions (1809 to 1812) at Spring Gardens; 
mostly picturesque landscape subjects, without special topographic 
interest. Cottages and trees and river-banks in the home counties 
supplied most of his material. With them there were one or two 
views in Monmouthshire, and sometimes studies of cottage children. 
His drawings are very pleasing, but, not being numerous, are not often 
seen. He treated his subjects with an artistic eye and some poetic 
feeling, endowing well-balanced compositions with deep and warm 
tones of colour. 

1 There is a drawing by Payne at the British Museum, on absorbent paper, with dark 
trees, powerful in colour. 

2 Some speculations as to the identity or connexion of W. Payne (who exhibited at R.A. 
1821-1822), W. R. Payne, jun., and Matthew Payne of Coventry, are in Notes and Queries, 
6th series, i. 522, ii. 277. 



CH. ill AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 249 

CHARLES WILD was born in London in 1781, the second son in 
a large family, 1 and was therefore about twenty-eight when he joined 
the Society as an Associate. He had in his earlier youth been articled 
to Turner's perspective-master, Thomas Malton, and from the first 
had devoted himself to architectural subjects, using his pen and pencil 
with the geometrical rigour of a professed architect, and with the 
same neatness of detail. This minute truthfulness was retained when, 
becoming more of a painter, he gave to such representations the 
superadded charm of pictorial treatment, with refined and delicately 
harmonized colour. In 1803 he began to exhibit his drawings at the 
Royal Academy, with two views at Christ Church, Oxford, and from 
that year to 1810 had nine drawings there; those of 1805 being of 
Westminster Abbey, and those of 1808 of York Cathedral. From 
1809 to 1812, he brought five drawings a year to the Society's collec- 
tion. They were nearly all views of English cathedrals, of which he 
had, some years before, commenced the production of a long series of 
engraved illustrations, that continued to be issued for many years. 
Those of Canterbury, York, Chester, and Lichfield were published 
between 1807 and 1813. Some of the titles of Wild's drawings are 
accompanied by illustrative verses, which indicate a poetic treatment. 
His ' Canterbury ' has its pilgrims, and one drawing, of 1812, 'The 
Trial of Constance de Beverley,' from the second canto of Marmion, 
seems even to have belonged to the class of 'subject' pictures. 

FREDERICK NASH, another architectural draftsman of great 
eminence, was in his line a most accomplished painter, and con- 
tributed largely in after years to the Society's exhibitions. He joined 
it, as above recorded, a year after the accession of Wild, whose junior 
he was by about the same space of time. He was already in good 
practice. His merits as a draftsman had not only gained him employ- 
ment by eminent architects of the day (Sir Robert Smirke among 
them, from whose designs he made drawings), but were known to the 
public by divers engraved works. 

There is some danger of confusion between three successive 
Nashes, of no known kinship, but all connected with architecture 
and its graphic illustration. There was John Nash, the builder and 
architect already mentioned, Pugin's friend and employer. There 
was Frederick Nash, now before us. And there was Joseph Nash, 

1 He was nephew, on the mother's side, of Sir Isaac Herd, Garter King-at-Arms. 



2SO THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

another, but much younger, member of the Society, who will have to 
be dealt with by-and-by. Our present subject, the elder draftsman 
of the name, was the son of a respectable builder in Lambeth, and 
there first saw the light on the 28th of March, 1782. He was the 
youngest child of his mother, separated in age from the rest of her 
offspring by an interval of ten years. The latter circumstance, added 
to his own engaging nature as a child, made him the pet of the family, 
among whom his infantine fancy for decorating all scraps of paper 
that came in his way with ships, houses, and trees, was duly recalled 
when it became apparent that, tractable on most subjects, he was im- 
movable in his choice of a profession. In after life he admitted that 
he had not known his own interest. But the world is a gainer by his 
want of that knowledge. He thought (and there are precedents in 
his favour) that ' to be an artist was greater than to be a king.' So, 
rejecting the offer of a rich relative to pay all costs and give him other 
advantages if he would only be a lawyer, he clung to his pencil, and 
had to be placed with an architectural draftsman. His master was 
one Moreton (said to have been of repute at the time), who gave him 
a thorough grounding in perspective. Thence he entered the schools 
of the Academy in the early days of President West, and at the age 
of eighteen exhibited there his first view of Westminster Abbey, the 
subject of some of his finest and most important paintings. This 
represented the ' North Entrance.' 

During the next ten years he drew for the engravers. In 
Britton and Brayley's voluminous work, The Beauties of England and 
Wales, may be found at least twenty prints after drawings by F. 
Nash, bearing dates of publication from 1801 to 1809. In 1805 a 
series of aquatint views, exterior and interior, by him, of The Collegiate 
Chapel of St. George at Windsor, was published with explanatory 
letterpress. When engaged in preparing this work, he was received 
by King George the Third with marked kindness and condescension. 
' There is,' says Mr. Maurice B. Adams, ' a thoroughness of purpose 
in these so-called pre-Puginesque works, not always conspicuous in 
our own contemporaneous productions.' ' This series was followed 
by Twelve Vie^vs of the Antiquities of London, ' for the illustration 
of Lysons, Pennant, &c.,' 4to, 1805-1810. He also exhibited water- 
colour drawings at the Royal Academy, and his name is in the first 
volume of Britton's Architectural Antiquities, published in 1807, as 
1 Paper on Architectural Illustrations, 1877, p. 7. 



CH. ill AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 251 

the draftsman of five of the plates (one of the Temple Church and 
four of Malmesbury Abbey). To this period also belongs an ' Inside 
View of King's College Chapel in Cambridge,' engraved, with date 
4 May, 1808, by John Byrne, in Britannia Depicta, Part II. 

In 1808 he was an exhibitor with the Associated Artists, and in 
j 809 a Member of that Society ; contributing, in these two years, 
eight drawings. They included two interiors of Westminster Abbey, 
the West Front of St. Paul's, a large drawing of the choir of 
Canterbury Cathedral, and several ruins in Wales and the North of 
England. In 1810 he became, instead, a contributor to the old 
Society, exhibiting his five drawings as an Associate. In 181 1, having 
become a Member, he sends twenty-two, followed by nine in 1812. 
Some were called 'sketches,' but others were superb and highly 
finished drawings. They included subjects from London and the 
neighbourhood, Westminster Abbey, the Temple Church and the 
Savoy Chapel, St. Albans, Eltham, and Windsor, the cathedrals of 
Salisbury and Lincoln, and the Yorkshire abbeys of Fountains and 
Kirkstall. 

Pyne informs us that one of the drawings exhibited by Nash in 
1811, an ' Inside of Westminster Abbey, with Funeral Procession,' 
drew forth a special tribute of praise from Benjamin West, another 
instance of the lively interest taken by that kindly President of the 
Academy in the progress of the water-colour school. He took it as 
a text to combat the dictum of an amateur that ' such subjects 
demanded little more than a mere mechanical application of the 
executive part of painting.' ' It is true,' said West, ' that an accurate 
view of this or any other building may be drawn on mechanical 
principles, but to describe the scene under the influence of this grand 
and pictorial sentiment is as much an affair of mind as to represent 
nature under the gorgeous colouring of a Titian.' 1 This drawing 
was purchased from the artist by Mr. T. T. Wheeler, of the New 
Road, a liberal patron of water-colour art, for I55/. A very large 
and fine work, 46^ x 35 inches in size, answering to the above 
description, was lent by Mr. Henry Carr for exhibition at a conversa- 
zione of the Royal Water-Colour Society Art Club in 1886. It was 
well preserved, and would fully justify West's encomium. Other 
important drawings of the same interior were made by Nash at later 
dates, which will be referred to in due course. 

1 Somerset House Gazette, ii. 128. 



252 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

On the 5th of May, 1807, Nash was appointed architectural drafts- 
man to the Society of Antiquaries ; and he was employed in work 
for that body for many years. 

The year 1810 also introduces to us the distinguished artists 
De Wint and Copley Fielding, who were to take leading parts in the 
achievements of the Society in the sunny days to come. 

PETER DE WiNT, as his name implies, was of Dutch extraction. 
His father was a physician, with a Leyden degree, practising at Stone 
in Staffordshire. His ancestors were wealthy merchants of Amster- 
dam. The penultimate generation had migrated to New York, 
whence our artist's father, Henry De Wint, a second son, came back 
to Europe for medical instruction, with an allowance of 3OO/. a year 
and a comfortable prospect of marrying a cousin, practising the 
healing art in America, and being otherwise well provided for. All 
this might have happened had not the young man, on attaining his 
majority, chosen to fall in love with and marry a lady of Scotch 
descent, whose British blood did not compensate, in his parent's eyes, 
for her slender fortune. One result of this imprudence was that his 
father disowned him, stopped his allowance, and, dying from an accident 
soon after, was found to have cut him off with a shilling. Another 
was, that he remained in England ; and thus we are able to number 
among our most cherished native artists his fourth son, Peter De 
Wint, who was born at Stone aforesaid on the 2ist day of January, 
1784. 

Peter was at first intended for his father's profession, but, evincing 
a marked predilection for graphic art, which declared itself in a con- 
stant use of the pencil, 1 and in lonely rambles after nature, he was 
allowed to learn drawing of a local professor, one Rogers of Stafford, 
and at the age of eighteen to abandon a study of the healing art, upon 
which he had unwillingly entered, and go to London as a resident 
pupil of John Raphael Smith. 2 It was on the /th of June, 1802, that 
the indentures were signed which bound him 'prentice for seven years 

1 His after calling as an instructor, too, was foreshadowed in these early days ; for he not 
only drew himself, but taught his schoolfellows to do the same. Thus they could boast in 
future times of having had ' lessons from De Wint ' (and gratis !). 

' l It is conjectured by Mr. Armstrong that John Raphael Smith's brother, Thomas 
Correggio Smith, who was a painter of miniatures at Uttoxeter, may have been the 
channel through which this connexion was brought about. (See Memoir of Peter De 
Wint. ) 



CH. ill AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 253 

(phis an extra year's service in lieu of premium), and whereby Smith 
engaged to teach him ' the arts and mysteries of engraving and 
portrait-painting.' We are already acquainted with the name of 
this lively mezzotint engraver, draftsman, and taker of likenesses in 
crayons, Morland's gay associate, the publisher for whom Turner and 
Girtin coloured prints together when boys. Those days were old 
when De Wint came to him for instruction. The acts of that earlier 
generation were but traditions of the past in Smith's studio. Poor 
Morland's reckless career was virtually ended. That same year 1802 
saw him released for a time from his creditors, but utterly broken, to 
die miserably, again a captive, after two sad winters more had flown. 1 
In the same year Girtin passed away, and Turner was enrolled an 
Academician. Smith himself was entering his last decade. 2 And in 
the same year the little partie carrfe in George Street, Hanover 
Square, were already discussing the prospects of their art, and laying 
the foundations of the Society which our young student was destined 
so richly to adorn. 

Among the young artists at Raphael Smith's in this later time 
was William Hilton, afterwards R.A., and distinguished among the 
history painters for his high aims in art. We all know his ' Find- 
ing the Body of Harold,' in the National collection. He was junior 
to De Wint by more than two years, but had begun his studies earlier, 
having become a pupil of Smith's in 1800. He bsgan to exhibit at 
the Academy in 1803. The fields of art afterwards cultivated by 
Hilton and De Wint were about as widely separate as they could well 
be ; but their amiable natures had much in common, and, brought 
together thus, they struck up a mutual friendship which united them 
very closely ever after. While at Smith's they shewed a similarity 
in taste, or rather in distaste, in their preference of the mystery of 
painting to that of engraving, and the master had the good sense to 
humour their natural predilection. Being an ardent fisherman, he 
used to take the two cronies out with him and let them sketch while 
he indulged in his sport. This was at any rate the very thing to suit 
De Wint. But his attachment to Hilton on one occasion brought 
about less amicable relations between master and pupil. Hilton took 
upon himself to play truant and run away home, and De Wint, to 
whom he had confided his intention, declining to betray him by 

1 George Morland died 29 October, 1804, aged forty-one. 

2 John Raphael Smith died 2 March, 1812, in his sixtieth year. 



254 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

declaring whither he had gone, was actually clapped into prison, like 
Girtin, as a refractory apprentice, until the facts had otherwise 
transpired. Smith was, however, more kindly as well as more appre- 
ciative of genius than Dayes had been ; for, although it happened 
that DeVVintwas released from his apprenticeship before its time had 
expired, the indentures being cancelled for a valuable consideration, 
the terms of this transaction showed how highly the master esteemed 
his pupil's work as an artist. It was on the lyth of May, 1806, 
that young De Wint purchased his freedom under an agreement 
which he faithfully performed to paint for Smith within the following 
two years eighteen oil pictures (nine in each year) of specified sizes, 
varying from 1 1 x 9 in. to 2 ft. 3 in. x I ft. 2 in. 

Hilton's apprenticeship ending at about the same time, the two 
young men continued to pursue together their careers in life. 1 Before 
settling in a joint lodging, however, each paid a visit to the other's 
home. Hilton's father was a portrait-painter living at Lincoln, and 
thither they first repaired. And there it fell out that De Wint fell 
in love at the same time with Hilton's sister Harriet and with their 
native city and the country round about it. Both became objects of 
his devotion to the end of his life. 

Then he travelled to his father's home in Staffordshire, sketching 
on the way the High Tor at Matlock, ever after a favourite subject of 
his; and Hilton followed soon after. It was in the autumn of 1806 
that the two took up their quarters in Broad Street, Golden Square. 
This, it will be recollected, is the same street in which at that time 
resided John Varley, and De Wint is known to have derived much 
benefit from gratuitous counsel and instruction in landscape art 
received from that able expert. At about the same time De Wint 
was received by Dr. Monro as one of the knot of students who 
frequented his house in Adelphi Terrace. His kind host is said to 
have much admired his sketches. There he became acquainted with 
the works of Girtin, which were his favourites among all the drawings 
in the Doctor's collection. And there he probably acquired the germ 
of his future practice as a water-colour painter. The earliest drawing 
known to the writer from the hand of De Wint is a sketch at South 
Kensington, the gift of the artist's daughter, Mrs. Tatlock, called 
' Tutbury Castle,' and attributed to the year 1805 or 1806. In it 

1 Mr. Armstrong finds their names united as brother recruits in the ' St. Margaret's and 
St. John's Volunteer' corps, about 1805. 



CH. Ill AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 255 

the influence of Girtin is so strongly marked that it might easily be 
mistaken for a work by that master. 1 

In 1807 De Wint is first found exhibiting at the Royal Academy, 
where he has two views in Staffordshire, one being of Trentham, and 
a ' View of High Torr, Matlock,' doubtless from his sketch in the 
preceding year. He must have been much occupied at this time 
in executing his commission of pictures for Raphael Smith ; 2 but, 
although his biographer declares that ' his strong preference was for 
oils,' he seems already to have made up his mind to rely on water- 
colour art for his living, and to adopt that as his professed branch 
of painting. 

In 1808, on the opening of the gallery of the Associated Artists, 
he sent there four drawings for exhibition ; and he had nine there in 
1809, in which year he was made a full Member of that body. One 
of his drawings in 1 808 was a view of Westminster from the bridge ; 
and two views in the following year were at Lincoln. These drawings 
are much praised by a contemporary critic. He describes them as 
being 'of the very first class. Correct observation of nature, fine 
selection of form, with the greatest truth and simplicity of colour, are 
the characteristics of his style. His works have all the indications of 
superior thinking, all the germs of greatness.' 3 

How long the fellow-students remained in Broad Street is not 
clear. De Wint's address, as given in the catalogues of the above 
exhibitions for 1807 and 1808, is 40 Windmill Street, Rathbone 
Place. As his father died in May 1807, leaving the younger children 
partly dependent on Peter, a change of residence may then have 
been made. But wherever he was, it is probable that Hilton was 
there also. An incident which occurred in February 1809 fixes a 
date when at least they were together. Hilton was ill of a fever, 
and his friend, while running for a doctor (De Wint, a nurse 
more zealous than careful, having administered to the patient 
vinegar instead of drugs), was impeded in his progress by the fire 
that destroyed Drury Lane Theatre, which event happened on 
the 24th of that month. Hilton, getting better, returned home 
for a while, and De Wint, after spending the summer with him 
at Lincoln, was alone for a few months in Carburton Street. 

1 In the Northern Cambrian Mountains, folio, 1820, Plate 35 is a coloured aquatint of 
' Chirk Castle : painted by De Wint from a sketch by T. Girtin,' engraved by T. Fielding. 
* Some were of Lincoln. ' depository of Arts, i. 493 (1809). 



256 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

On the 8th of March in the same year, 1809, he was admitted a 
student at the Royal Academy, Hilton having entered the schools 
there on leaving Smith's in 1806. In the autumn they again put 
up together at No. 93 Norton Street, Fitzroy Square. By that time 
a demand had arisen for De Wint's drawings, and he was receiving 
many commissions. 

It was on the I2th of February, 1810, that he was elected an 
Associate of the Water-Colour Society, and on the i6th of June in 
the same year Miss Hilton became his sympathetic partner for life. 
He was then twenty-six years of age. His marriage did not separate 
him from his old companion, now his brother-in-law, who lived with 
the married couple in their new residence, No. 10 Percy Street, for 
the next seventeen years. De Wint still continued to study at the 
Academy, and was admitted to the Life School on the 1 6th of March, 
1811. But in his profession as a landscape-painter he was now well 
established, and on the roth of June in the same year became a full 
Member of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours. In that year 
his wife gave birth to a daughter, their only child. In the three 
years 1810-1812 he exhibited in increasing numbers eighteen 
drawings in all at Spring Gardens. Of these, three are professedly 
views at Lincoln (one of the cathedral), one is ' Conisborough Castle, 
Yorkshire,' and nearly all the rest, if not described simply as ' Land- 
scapes,' are harvest scenes. It was in a similar round of home and 
rural subjects that his great talents were displayed year by year 
during the long space of his professional life. 

It is probably to this early period only of De Wint's career that 
his biographer's account must be taken to apply which records that 
' at first he received no more than a guinea or so for a small drawing, 
and five shillings an hour for lessons.' ' 

COPLEY FIELDING was another of the new comers who entered 
the fraternity as a disciple, though not, as it has been asserted, a 
regular pupil, of Varley's. He did not possess the originality or 
native talent of a De Wint ; and in his case no tales are told of an 
irresistible penchant for art that overcame all opposition. The per- 
sistence required on his part was only what the task demanded of 
fostering and improving such natural aptitude as he was found to 
possess. At the same time, his great success and deserved popularity 

1 Armstrong's Memoir of De Wint, p. 19. 



CH. in AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 257 

as an artist were due in no small degree to his own steadfastness and 
perseverance. He seems indeed to have been consecrated to art in 
his very baptism. The names that his godfathers and godmother had 
bestowed upon him, in the church of East Sowerby, ' Anthony 
Vandyke Copley,' high-sounding though they were, did not, it is 
true, exactly foreshadow the line of art to which he afterwards 
devoted himself. The last is a testimony to his father's friend- 
ship for John Singleton Copley, R.A., the distinguished painter of 
the ' Death of Lord Chatham ' &c., and father of Lord Chancellor 
Lyndhurst. The first two indicate his respect for one of the greatest 
of his own calling ; for Theodore Nathan Fielding, at the time of 
his son Copley's birth, was in practice as a portrait painter, near 
Halifax in Yorkshire. He had, however, painted landscapes before 
he took to portraiture. He had four sons, at least, born at rather 
long intervals, all of whom he encouraged in the use of the pencil 
and all of whom became successful artists. Of these Copley, born 
on the 22nd of November, 1787, was the second. His elder brother 
was Theodore Henry Adolphus. The younger ones had the more 
manageable names of Thales and Newton. Their mother was of a 
respectable family in Yorkshire of the name of Barker. 

A few months after Copley's birth, Mr. Fielding removed, with 
his family, to London. The greater part of the lad's time was, 
nevertheless, passed in the country. Even in infancy he had been 
observed to be sensitive to the beauty of nature. A woody bank at 
one time, a thunderstorm at another, made indelible impressions on 
his mind before he was three years old. The walks, through fields, 
to his preparatory school at Acton were, we may be sure, a greater 
pleasure to him than they would have been to an ordinary child of 
five. At the age of six, he chanced to see a pure spring bubbling 
from under a stony bank with overhanging bushes, and the vision of 
it kept recurring to his memory for years after. Yet we hear of none 
of the early attempts to portray such objects which are so commonly 
recorded in the lives of great artists. His education was desultory, 
but he took great delight in reading. 

His parents do not appear to have at first intended him for an artist. 
Indeed, a record exists of his having actually entered upon a very dif- 
ferent career. In a Memoir of Thomas Dodd, ' the last of the grand school 
of connoisseurs,' privately printed at Liverpool for Joseph Mayer, F.S.A., 
in 1879, it is related that Dodd, when an engrossing clerk in the 

s 



258 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

Enrolment Office of the Court of Chancery, ' had two young clerks 
under him, who were destined to become famous. They were the 
sons of an old painter named Fielding, and were called Copley 
and Raffael.' ' It was not, indeed, until Copley arrived at his 
sixteenth year, when his father went to reside at the Lakes, that his 
future profession was fixed. There the family established themselves 
in a little cottage at Ambleside, and afterwards at Keswick ; and 
there Mr. Fielding did his best to promote his sons' improvement in 
the art of landscape. 

His own qualifications as a teacher would be differently estimated 
by the adherents of different schools. What they were may be 
partly inferred from the following account of him at this period, from 
notes written by the Rev. Mr. Barker, no doubt a relation of Mrs. 
Fielding's : ' In the summer of 1804, the father of Copley Fielding 
was a lively, active man, of easy access and agreeable conversation, 
daily at the easel, painting con amore. He showed his pictures 
readily, and not without much satisfaction. Of a head of an old man, 
which he had recently painted, and which had elicited some admira- 
tion, he said, " Yes, they call me the English Denner." * He painted 
in oil, exclusively I think, and appeared as fond of landscape as of 
old faces. In his room were several small pictures, chiefly landscapes, 
painted by him and copied by his sons. Taking up one, he said, 
"Copley, is this mine or yours ?" adding, " We copy each other so 
exactly, it is difficult to know which is which." One day, on going in 
I found Mr. Fielding finishing a small picture in oils of Keswick 
Lake. In the sky was a light cloud elaborately painted, and principal 
in effect. He joined in my admiration of it and said, pointing to 
the cloud, " It would take a touch brighter," and after a pause, " No, I 
don't know." My recollection of this picture is that it was laboured 
in the touch throughout, of a uniform warmish green colour, and 
wanted aerial hues, and consequently space and distance. Of another 
small picture he showed me, of a bluish hue, he said, " I was deter- 
mined to see what ultramarine would do." In colour it reminded me 
a little of Paul Brill, or Velvet Breughel.' 

1 Page 22. Whether ' Raffael ' was a fifth artist brother, does not appear. 

2 The reader need scarcely be told that Denner is usually regarded as the type of a school 
of imitative painters whose highest ambition is to copy, in a deceptive manner, the very 
pores of the skin. Bryan calls him a ' laborious painter, whose works surprise by the toil- 
some servility of their finish, as much as they disgust by a total absence of all that is esti- 
mable in the art.' Probably Mr. Fielding's estimate was higher. 



CH. in AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 259 

But the father provided the young Fieldings with other and 
better models than his own paintings. He was very desirous of their 
improvement in the art, and used to send them out early in the 
morning to draw from nature. ' They don't return,' said he, ' till the 
evening, till it is dark ; and if that won't do, I know not what will.' 
The lads, however, were not always employed with the brush, as 
their father had supposed, from morn to dewy eve. Sometimes they 
had with them, in their day's ramble, their only sister, a blooming 
girl of sixteen or so, extremely healthy and active, as well as 
adventurous, for she is said to have had the nerve to scramble across 
the well-known mass of rock that is wedged over the chasm of 
Dungeon ghyll. And Copley Fielding related in after years, with 
much sly fun, how he and his brothers once laboured for a whole 
morning, heaping up stones, not indeed, as Glover did in Dovedale, 1 
to make a stream more paintable, but to change the course of a 
waterfall, when they knew that a party of tourists in search of the 
picturesque were coming to admire its natural beauty. 

The Fieldings had for a neighbour a painter whose works in 
water-colour were good enough to exercise a salutary influence on 
their art, whether it did or not namely, Julius Caesar Ibbetson, then 
living at the retired village of Troutbeck, about four miles from 
Ambleside, with his second wife, whom he had married a few years 
before. She, at least, visited the Fieldings. She is described as 
young and handsome, and we seem to be familiar with her dark hair 
and bright complexion, among the telling rustic groups that adorned 
her husband's later landscapes. 2 

It was during this residence at the Lakes that the bias of Copley 
Fielding's mind asserted its strength, and determined his lot in life. 
The scenes he there met with filled him with delight. But for some 
time he passed his days on the lakes, and in wanderings over rock 
and mountain, through wood and through valley, storing his mind 

1 Vide supra, p. 196. 

2 Though he followed the old tinted method, Ibbetson was an effective painter in water- 
colour, delicate in touch, though firm and decided. His painting in oil showed some resem- 
blance to his friend Morland's, and to that of Berghem, whom he copied. In 1803, he 
published the first and only part of An Accidence or Gamut in Oil and Water-Colours, the first 
edition of which he illustrated with original specimens, apparently painting two separate 
examples, one in oils and one in water-colours, for each copy of the work, of different 
designs. He was born in 1759 and died in 1817. His reputation has suffered from associa- 
tion with Morland's, let us hope on no better ground than that of Thomas Girtin. Soma 
excellent drawings by Ibbetson were in the late Dr. Percy's collection. 

s 2 



260 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

with impressions, and leading a kind of enchanted life, without making 
any serious attempt to put into form his floating ideas. His daughter 
declares that it was the sight and study at this time of some of 
Wilson's pictures that inspired him with the desire to be an artist. 
And the fact accords with the theory that Fielding's success in 
practice did not arise from any marked originality of conception. 
From this study of Wilson he derived great benefit, particularly 
from a copy which he made in water-colours of 'Apollo and the 
Seasons.' ' They assisted,' writes Miss Fielding, ' ' in forming that 
correct taste which could only be satisfied with the works of the first 
Masters.' 

In 1807 he accompanied his father to Liverpool, and, offering his 
drawings for sale there, was encouraged by an amount of patronage 
which he always referred to with expressions of gratitude. 2 In 1808 
he made a tour in Wales, by Flint and the Vale of Clwyd to Chester. 
But a visit to town in the same year, to see the exhibitions, for the 
first time opened out to him a prospect of greater advantage than 
could be expected at Liverpool, and induced him to settle in London 
in the autumn of 1809. There he enjoyed the great benefit of assist- 
ance from Varley in the formation of his artistic style, though he 
never was an actual pupil, as it has been asserted, of that excellent 
artist's. He ' came to town,' writes Cornelius Varley, 3 ' with indifferent 
drawings, and received most free instruction and advice, as a friend,' 
from John, who, we know, was always ready and willing to lend a 
helping hand in this way to his professional brethren. Of Varley's 
genius and liberality, Fielding always spoke with the highest com- 
mendation. In order to be near him, he took a lodging in Wells 
Street. Varley was then living in Broad Street, Golden Square. He 
does not seem to have been sanguine at first of the student's success. 
Observing the slowness with which the young man imbibed his 
principles, Varley was even induced, it is said, to dissuade him from 
his professional pursuit. But Fielding was not lightly to be deterred 

1 MS. 

* Carey in his Letter to J. A. (28 April, 1809), p. 19, writes from Manchester : ' Fielding is 
here, a veteran artist whose old heads in the manner of Denner are purchased at high prices 
by the admirers of that master. ... He has a son, a young artist of great merit, who gives 
instructions as a drawing master at Liverpool. I do not know him, but I saw at the house 
of Mr. Harrison, a merchant of that town, among other clever drawings by young Fielding, 
a moonlight view of Melrose Abbey, from Walter Scott's Marmion, in which there was a very 
lovely stillness and solemnity.' 

> MS. 



CH. Ill AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 261 

from treading the path of life which had been chalked out for him. 
Varley recommended him to make coloured sketches from nature in 
the neighbourhood of London, and acting upon his advice, and guided 
by his criticism, he by the end of that year had acquired proficiency 
enough to obtain his election as an Associate of the Water-Colour 
Society in January 1810. In the season that followed, he exhibited 
his first five drawings at Spring Gardens, most of them views in the 
Lake district. 

When the exhibition closed, he went into Cumberland to study 
nature and visit his brother Theodore at Penrith, going afterwards to 
Carlisle and making an excursion to Haworth Castle, Lanercost 
Priory, and down Tynedale as far as Hexham, &c. In the following 
month he made a tour in Scotland through Dumfries and Selkirk 
to Melrose and back to Carlisle. Results of this tour were seen in 
the exhibition of 1811. At the close of that summer he went to 
Liverpool, and paid another visit to Wales, which furnished some of 
his subjects of 1812. He was then on the threshold of the more im- 
portant period of his career, and there he must be left, in order that 
some account may be rendered of other new Associates, with names 
less widely known in the present day. 

WILLIAM WESTALL, who was elected five months after Fielding, 
contributed only twelve drawings (in 1811 and 1812) to the Society's 
exhibitions, and but a third of these belong to the branch of art which 
he specially represented. His experience had been of no ordinary 
kind. He was a younger brother, by no less than sixteen years, of 
Richard Westall, R. A., whose leading position in the figure school has 
been above recorded, and from whom he had received his early in- 
struction. But his own practice had been in a very different and 
much wider field. He had been a great traveller, and the labours by 
which he was distinguished give him an important place in the line of 
topographic artists whose mission it was to portray distant parts of 
the earth's surface. While his brother draftsmen were devoting their 
energies to the better cultivation of the art itself by continued practice 
at home, by repeating under varied aspects the selfsame views 
among their Welsh mountains, and studying again and again familia'r 
scenes of native life and landscape, Westall had been bringing new 
material within the range of its application. 

He was born on the I2th of October, 1781, at Hertford, whither 



262 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

his parents had removed from Norwich, to which city the family 
belonged. His early years were spent still nearer London, at Syden- 
ham and Hampstcad. His passion for art was displayed when he 
was very young, and he would play truant from school to sketch from 
nature. He was under nineteen, a probationer at the Royal Academy, 
when President West picked him cut as fit fora Government appoint- 
ment as landscape draftsman to a discovery ship about to sail for 
what geographers called ' Terra Australis,' and less classic linguists 
' the fifth quarter of the globe.' ' Thenceforth much of his life had 
been passed in perilous adventure. Embarking in H.M.S. Investigator, 
Commander Flinders, which sailed from Spithead on the 1 8th of July, 
1801, he soon had an opportunity of plying his pencil. Landing at 
Madeira, a scientific party explored the interior, and Westall, going 
with them, made many sketches of the scenery. On their return to 
the ship, however, the native boatmen upset them into the surf, and 
besides losing all the fruits of his toil, our artist was nearly drowned. 
Next he was struck down and again brought to death's door by a 
coup de soleil. For two years the ship continued her cruise, and then 
she was found to be unseaworthy and left at Port Jackson ; Westall 
and most of the voyagers being transferred to H.M.S. Porpoise, which, 
instead of bringing them safely back to England, deposited them on 
a small coral reef in the Pacific, whence they were rescued after a 
lapse of eight weeks. Westall, who had happily saved most of his 
drawings, was carried off to China by the good ship Rolla, and re- 
mained some months at Canton, sketching there and up the river 
memoranda of the scenery and its celestial inhabitants. Thence he 
sailed to Bombay, where he was the first to contradict a report that 
he and his shipwrecked companions had perished on their reef. 

Since Westall had left England, the short peace with France had 
come and gone ; and he chanced to be an eye-witness of the first 
naval success of the new war. For the ship 2 in which he had set 
sail from China was one of the fleet of merchantmen with which the 
gallant Commodore Dance, of the East India Company's service, beat 

1 William Daniell, afterwards R.A., had been first appointed, but, becoming engaged to 
be married to Westall's eldest sister, preferred to stay at home. Probably he, as well as 
West, had a voice in the selection of the substitute. 

2 As Lieut. Fowler, R.N. , who had commanded the ill-fated Porpoise, and was of great 
service in this action, had embarked as a passenger in Dance's ship, the Earl Camdcn, it is 
probable that Westall was with him in that vessel. The Rolla had also been put under Dance's 
charge, to convoy, but had somehow got left behind at Macao. (See Annual Register, 
PP- 5Si, 552- ) 



CH. II! AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 263 

off and pursued a French squadron under Admiral Linois, in the 
Straits of Malacca, on the i$th of February, 1804. The good will of 
the Duke of Wellington (then commanding in India as Sir Arthur 
Wellesley) enabled our artist to explore the mountains of the 
Mahratta country ; and among those of the Boa Ghaut he fell in 
with the victorious Indian army, that had fought the battle of Assay e 
in the preceding September. He also visited the temples of Kurlee 
and Elephanta, and other places of interest, of which he made careful 
drawings on the spot. 

During his travels in India, Westall was appalled by sufferings 
which met his eye, the effects of famine and drought. His son tells 
us that ' he was always much affected when alluding, in after life, to 
the horrors he here beheld,' and relates at 'the same time an anecdote 
which exemplifies his kindness of heart. 1 One of his servants, having 
taken advantage of the utter destitution of a native family, had, as a 
slave speculation, purchased an only remaining son for little more 
than a meal and a few pounds of rice. Westall, shocked and 
disgusted with the sordid cruelty of the transaction, watched his 
opportunity, and when he had to cross from the coast to Bombay 
island, the servants and baggage being aboard, and he and the new 
slave alone remaining ashore to be conveyed to the vessel, slipped 
some money into the young man's hand, and silently pointed to his 
native mountains. The youth 'threw himself on the ground and 
kissed his benefactor's feet, then with the swiftness of a deer darted 
towards his home, and was out of sight in a few minutes,' leaving the 
discomfited servant ' lamenting ' (like my Lord Ullin) on the vessel's 
deck. 

At Bombay, Westall received kind attentions from Sir James 
Mackintosh, then residing there as Recorder, and in return gave his 
daughter lessons in drawing. He described Sir James as suffering 
from nostalgia. He himself too had a mind to see his own land 
again. He had left home, a lad, before Girtin went to Paris. Now 
he had grown to man's estate, and, returning to England, found a 
new page open in the annals of his profession. The Water-Colour 
Society was formed, and blossoming in its first exhibition. 

But Westall could not settle down so soon to home work. The 
taste for travel was yet upon him, and off he went to Madeira in 1805, 

1 Art Journal, Memoir of Wm. Westall, A.R.A. (l April, 1850, p. 104), from which 
most of the above account is derived. 






264 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK iv 

to pass a year there in great enjoyment, and make up in new sketches 
the loss of his first portfolio ; receiving there much kindness from 
the British residents, and, by painting the houses of planters and 
merchants, raising a sufficient fund to enable him to cross the 
Atlantic and complete his collection of drawings with a large number 
of sketches made during a few further months in Jamaica. 

Returning to England once more, he set to work to make pictures 
out of the materials he had collected in the two hemispheres ; and in 
1 808 opened an exhibition of his own, in Brook Street, of water- 
colour drawings of the scenes and places he had visited. It did not 
however, arouse the expected interest, and Westall had to fall back 
upon home scenes, in which he had to compete with artists to whom 
they were more familiar. 

He joined the ' Associated Artists ' in water-colours as an exhibit- 
ing Member in 1808 and 1809. In the first of these years he had 
ten works in their gallery, all foreign views. In the second he had 
fifteen, whereof the greater number were home subjects, from 
Worcestershire and the Wye. His works of the former class are 
favourably noticed at some length in John Landseer's Review of 
Publications in Art (1808), but the latter called forth the remark of a 
contemporary critic that the artist's unsuccessful delineations of 
English scenery had shaken previous belief in the truth of his 
foreign views. 1 He was now, however, obtaining commissions to 
paint oil pictures, and, on the ground that his time was so occupied, he 
sent in his resignation on the 2/th of June, 1809. Nevertheless he 
became an Associate of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours on 
the nth of June, 1810. With his few drawings at Spring Gardens of 
views in China, Madeira, and New South Wales, were some of the 
London Thames and Rievaulx Abbey. 

He had only now begun to prepare for publication the set of 
drawings made during the ill-fated voyage of discovery ; the history 
as well as the completion of which had been delayed by adverse fate. 
Long and far as our artist had wandered, after his rescue from the 
coral reef, he had got back to England years before his less fortunate 
commander. Flinders was picked up by a small schooner, the Cumber- 
land, and on the way home, while his brave lieutenant was fighting 
the French with such success in the Malacca Strait, was captured 
by the enemy ; and he was detained in a long and cruel confinement 

1 Ackermann's Repository, \. 493. 



CH. in AT SPRING GARDENS, 1809-1812 265 

in the island of Mauritius. He did not arrive in England until the 
very year 1810 when Westall joined the Water-Colour Society, and 
the book of travels was not published until after that artist's connexion 
with the Society had ceased. 

The name of WILLIAM SCOTT, though he was a competent 
painter, and long an exhibitor with the Society, has left no strong 
mark in its annals. Scarcely anything has been recorded of his per- 
sonal history, and the dates of his birth and death are alike unknown. 
Even the industrious Redgrave tells us less than we gather from the 
catalogues. His home was Brighton, whence, says that writer, he 
seldom strayed abroad ; and ' home scenery and cottages of Sussex 
and Surrey ' were the class of subjects which introduced him to our 
gallery in 181 1. He then brought five drawings. The next year he 
had three, two of which were from Edinburgh. In the catalogue for 
the latter year, a work by him is advertized, with the title ' Six 
Etchings on Stone, printed on brown crayon paper and retouched 
with white, to imitate drawings in black and white chalk,' to be had 
of P. S. Munn, New Bond Street, and of other ' persons in London ' 
therein named. 

As the three Associates, Charles Barber, Luke Clennell, and, 
lastly not least, David Cox, were not elected until after the close of 
the exhibition of 1812, their names do not virtually belong to the 
period of the Society's annals which this year brought to an end. 
More special notice of them will therefore be reserved for its proper 
place in the chronicle of the succeeding period, when their names 
and works are first recorded in the exhibition catalogue. The 
election at the same time, namely on the 8th of June, 1812, of Wild 
and Pugin as full Members, was, as it turned out, little more than 
nominal, by reason of important events which have now to be related. 



266 



THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 



BK. IV 



CHAPTER IV 

FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 

Statistics Decline of prosperity Further history of ' Associated Artists ' Their decline 
and fall Proposal to extend the Society Its dissolution Final biographies of retiring 
Members Wells Rigaud Reinagle C/talanThe ' Sketching Society ' Westall. 

IT has now to be explained why this particular epoch of 1812 has 
been selected to terminate the first stage of our Society's history. 
For this purpose recourse must be had to the minute-books of the 
committee and general meetings during that period. The following 
schedule compiled therefrom will exhibit at a glance the progress 
of the Society, considered purely as a business undertaking, from 
its first exhibition in 1805 to that of 1812. 



Year 


Members 


Asso- 
ciates 


Drawings 


Admissions 
on payment 


Members' valuations 


Surplus divided 












' d. 


s. d. 


1805 


16 


_ 


275 


11,542- 


2,860 o o 


270 19 o 


1806 


16 


8 


301 


12,439 


Return wanting 


440 3 o 


1807 


18 


8 


324 


14,366 


4,380 i o 


47i 7 ii 


1808 


19 


7 


334 


18,999 


5,787 i 6 


445 14 8 


1809 


20 


7 


34' 


22,967 


5,222 5 


626 6 ill 


1810 


22 


8 


328 


20,030 


4,807 17 o 


480 14 o 


1811 


24 


8 


369 


19,067 


6,610 15 6 


523 7 5 


1812 


25 


6 


341 


10,624 


4,498 ii 6 


121 18 4 



It appears by this statement that until 1810 there had been 
a satisfactory improvement in the Society's position almost year by 
year. The public had been attracted in constantly increasing 
numbers. Artists who had held aloof while success appeared 
doubtful had eagerly sought admission when the permanence of the 
Society seemed assured, with a growing surplus to be distributed at 
the close of each season rateably on the sum each Member set upon 
his works. In 1809, when the Society moved to Spring Gardens, 
this prosperity was at its height. The number of paid admissions 

1 Approximately. 



CH. iv FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 267 

had risen to nearly 23,000, and every Member received a profit little 
under 12 per cent, upon the price he had assigned to his contribu- 
tions. Heaphy in that year came in for as much as I3O/., Glover 
IO4/., and the rest in due proportion. No one seems to have 
questioned the prudence of so dividing the whole of the profits, 
though this practice proved in the end a source of danger that 
threatened the existence of the Society. Successful beyond their 
expectations, they hardly contemplated future reverses or the 
difficulties they had to encounter, which a wise reserve of their 
funds might have been the means of averting. But after this year 
there came a turn of the tide. Patronage, with its attendant profits, 
began from that time to diminish, and in 1812 there was a sudden 
and serious drop to a lower level in both respects than that at which 
the Society had ever stood. It was plainly suffering from a general 
depression of the times, which told with peculiar severity on the 
artists' craft. The renewed contest with France had strained the 
resources of the wealthy, and public attention was now absorbed in 
the events of the Peninsular War. 

When the account was taken after the close of that year's ex- 
hibition, the balance of profit was found to be so small as to excite 
reasonable apprehension of a future loss. On Thursday, the 5th of 
November, 1812, the Society met at Hills's house to take this state 
of things into consideration, and discuss the prospects of the en- 
suing season. According to an estimate then made, it did not 
appear likely that more than 230 drawings would be forthcoming 
for the next show, a number less by nearly a third than had been 
exhibited in the preceding spring. It was evident that a serious 
crisis had arrived in the Society's affairs. 

The Members, moreover, could not disregard the warning which 
had been given by recent events outside their Society. Their rivals 
in Bond Street had been in still greater trouble. The Associated 
Artists had fairly broken down under its weight, and ended their 
career in disaster. The remaining chief facts of their history may 
here be entered on the record. 

During the period now concluded the two Water-Colour Exhibi- 
tions, at Spring Gardens and in Bond Street, had come to be regarded 
as concurrent annual sights of the London season. The Associated 
Artists had removed from Brook Street to 1 10 New Bond Street in 



268 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

1809. From 1810 to 1812 they were at 16 Old Bond Street. Before 
the second exhibition (in 1809) they lost four Members : H. P. Bone, 
Alfred E. Chalon, Miss Emma Smith, and H. W. Watts. Their 
places were, for the time, well supplied by P. De Wint, J. Holmes, 
Frederick Nash, and J. Clarendon Smith. Before the exhibition of 

1810, however, De Wint, Nash, and Westall seceded to join the older 
Society, and J. B. Papworth, W. J. Thompson, and H. W. Williams 
also ceased to be active Members. Papworth, who had been Secre- 
tary, was afterwards made an Honorary Member. In the place of 
these six, a strong reserve of eight artists was then brought up to 
reinforce the ranks. The new Members were Luke Clennell, John 
Sell Cotman, David Cox, W. M. Craig, Louis Francia, Mrs. Meen, 
Samuel Prout, and Henry Richter. Some of these were of great 
future distinction, and the majority were, sooner or later, to become 
Members of the Water-Colour Society. David Cox at the same time 
succeeded William Wood as President for the year. The number of 
Members was thus raised from eighteen to twenty, and about as 
many non-Members were annually admitted as Exhibitors. The 
works exhibited each year varied in amount between the limits of 
266 (in 1809) and 345 (in 1810). 

With such constituent elements as these, the series of shows in 
Bond Street could scarcely fail to be a formidable rival to those at 
Spring Gardens. The body of skilful painters who afterwards con- 
stituted the strength of the Water-Colour Society, when it came again 
to stand alone in the field, was, at the period we are considering, 
divided in no very unequal proportions between the two annual ex- 
hibitions. At that time, the after leaders of the landscape school, 
Cox, De Wint, Prout ; the architectural draftsmen, F. Nash and Mac- 
kenzie ; Cotman, excelling in both departments and in marine also ; the 
subject-painters,/. Steplianoff, Holmes, Richter, and Clennell ; William 
Westall, too, the traveller ; all these were exhibiting with the Asso- 
ciated Artists before any of them joined the Society where Varley 
and Havell, Nicholson and Glover, Barret, Cristall, and their earlier 
confreres, retained a supremacy as yet undisputed. The first-named 
no doubt, were younger men, some of whom Prout for example 
had not yet felt their full strength or acquired their maturer style. 
They were, moreover, immersed in a crowd of obscure practitioners, 
so that the exhibitions in Bond Street were, as a whole, less select in 
quality than those at Spring Gardens, and contained ' a large proper- 



CH. iv FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 269 

tion of bad and hasty works.' The former might perhaps more truly 
be described as a nursery for, than as a rival of, the latter. 

In general character, the contents of the two galleries had much 
in common. ' The first thing,' says a contemporary reviewer in June 
1 8 io,' ' that strikes an observer, both at Spring Gardens and Bond 
Street, is the overwhelming proportion of landscapes, a proportion 
almost as unreasonable as that of the portraits at Somerset House. 
In pacing round the rooms the spectator experiences sensations some- 
what similar to those of an outside passenger on a mail-coach making 
a picturesque and picturizing journey to the North. Mountains and 
cataracts, rivers, lakes, and woods, deep romantic glens and sublime 
sweeps of country, engage his eye in endless and ever-varying succes- 
sion. For a while he is delighted, but as he proceeds the pleasure 
gradually fades ; he feels that even in variety there may be sameness, 
and would freely exchange a dozen leagues of charming landscape for 
a scene among " the busy haunts of men." ' 

In works of the ' subject ' class no artist of the rival association 
could rise to the refinement of Cristall, or even emulate the delicate 
sweetness of Uwins. The class of figure-painting there represented 
was rather the correlative of Heaphy's, having more of a popular than 
an artistic aim. Richter, indeed, had some ' emblematical riddles,' but 
such titles as 'The Taylor's [sic] Bill,' 'A Visit to the Cunning 
Woman,' ' The Brute of a Husband,' indicate his most taking works. 
Holmes followed the same line in 'The Doubtful Shilling' (1810), a 
scene in a butcher's shop ; and ' Miseries of Human Life,' wherein 
paterfamilias displayed his temper before an underdone joint. Clennell, 
too, was a prolific contributor, successful in various subjects of real life, 
from ' Greathead's Lifeboat, putting off to relieve a Vessel in Distress,' 
down to a ' Cellarman bottling Liquors.' 

In 1810 the name of the Society underwent further modification, 
becoming the ' Associated Painters in Water-Colours.' In the next 
year, 1811, the numbers of exhibitors and of works exhibited are both 
somewhat diminished, and symptoms arise of financial difficulty ; the 
following confession of failure being printed in the catalogue, by way 
of apology for the raising of its price from sixpence to a shilling : 
' Some surprise having been expressed on account of the increase in 
the price of the catalogue of the present Exhibition, it is thought 
proper to state that the expenses of the Establishment, chiefly owing 
1 See Ackermann's Repository, iii. 423 and 432-435. 



2/o THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805 1812 UK. iv 

to its situation, greatly exceed those incurred by any other Body of 
Artists in the United Kingdom, and that these expenses will perhaps 
eventually rest upon no more than Eight Persons, who, sensible of the 
stimulus which this Society has given to the Arts, have, though at a 
great and certain loss, determined to continue its support, and to 
communicate gratis the advantages it affords to all Artists of real 
merit. They have, therefore, ventured to add to the price of their 
Catalogue, as a trifling means of lessening their expenses, and with 
the direct view of throwing a small part of the burthen they have 
spiritedly undertaken upon the liberality of the Public. 1 The list of 
contributors is at the same time further divided, nine out of the twenty 
exhibiting Members being placed in a distinct class under the title of 
' Associated Members.' One of these, John Laporte, withdrew before 
the following season ; but the remainder, who were still true to their 
colours in 1812, may be assumed to have been the eight spirited 
enthusiasts above referred to. These were : Henry Richter (Presi- 
dent), W. J. Bennett (Treasurer), L. Francia (Secretary), David Cox, 
W. M. Craig, J. Huet-Villiers, J. Holmes, and W. Walker. 

The exhibition of 1812 was the last expiring effort of the Bond 
Street association. To ensure popularity they employed fresh 
devices, even to the extent of abandoning the original lines upon 
which that society had been constituted. Oil paintings were 
admitted ' as well as water-colour drawings, and the number of 
exhibitors was largely increased. Among the Members for this year 
was William Blake, who exhibited his extraordinary pictures of the 
' Spiritual Forms ' of Pitt 2 and Nelson, guiding Behemoth and 
Leviathan respectively, and his well-known 'Canterbury Pilgrims 
leaving the Tabarde Inn.' Richter had an oil picture of ' Christ 
restoring the Blind to Sight ; ' and Francia painted in the same 
medium a pendant to a Poussin which Sir Thomas Baring had ex- 
hibited in the British Institution. Holmes had a popular present- 
ment of a refractory schoolboy, and Frederick Mackenzie continued a 
series of excellent studies for Ackermann's aquatint illustrations of 
Westminster Abbey. 

In spite of these and other attractions, the exhibition was a com- 
mercial failure. The associated eight had been only too just in their 
anticipation of loss. Instead of a surplus of profit remaining, as in 

1 Ackermann's Repository, vii. 336. 

1 That of Pitt is now in the National Gallery, No. 1 1 10. 



CH. IV 



FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 



271 



the case of the old Society, for distribution among Members, there 
was not enough in hand to pay expenses; and, finally, down came the 
landlord, and seized the contents of the gallery in distraint of rent. 
The chief sufferer was David Cox, the whole of his year's drawings 
being taken from him and sold without compensation, which, even at 
the small prices they then fetched, inflicted a serious loss upon the 
rising painter. 

Thus closed the short career of the ' Associated Artists ' (or 
Painters) in Water-Colours. 1 Catalogues of the five exhibitions are 
to be found in the excellent Art Library at the South Kensington 
Museum. But as copies are very scarce, it has been thought ex- 
pedient to compile, for the convenience of collectors and others, the 
following alphabetical list of the Members and Exhibitors, with an 
indication of the capacities in which they appear in the several exhi- 
bitions. Those whose names are in small capitals afterwards became 
Members, and those in italics Associates of our Society. 

MEMBERS AND EXHIBITORS OF AND WITH THE 
ASSOCIATED ARTISTS (OR PAINTERS} IN WATER-COLOURS. 

P signifies President ; T, Treasurer ; S, Secretary ; M, Member ; HM, Honorary 
Member ; AM, Associated Member ; E, Exhibitor ; HE, Honorary Exhibitor. 





IN 
1808 


:ATALOGI 
1809 


E OF EX 

1810 


1IBITION 
l8ll 


OF 

1812 


Annis, W. . 


E 










Barber, C. . 






E 


M 


M 


Barker, B. . 










M 


Baxter, Thomas . 


E 










Baynes, James 




E 


E 


M 


M 


Bennett, William James 


M 


M 


M 


T 


T 


Betham, Miss 








E 


E 


Blake, W. . 










M 


Bone, Henry Pierce 


M 










Bourlier, Miss 










E 


Brighty, G. M. . 










E 


Brooke, W. H. . 






E 




E 


Burden, J. 










E 


Cartwright, C. M. 










E 


Cawse, J. 






E 






Chalon, Alfred 


M 










Clennell, Luke 






M 


M 


M 


Cockburn, R. 










E 


Compton, T. 










E 


Conde, P. 








E 


E 


Coney, J. 










E 



1 The sources of confusion arising from similarity of names and places appear to be inex- 
haustible. There was yet to be another body of ' Associated Painters in Water-Colours, ' 
which held three exhibidons at 16 Old Bond Street in 1832-34. It was started by the late 
Mr. James Fahey, and was the origin of the ' New Society of Painters in Water-Colours," 
now the ' Royal Institute.' (See Aihenaitm, 19 Dec. 1885, and infrj.) 



273 



THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 



BK. IV 



MEMBERS AND EXHIBITORS &c. continued. 





IN 
1808 


CATALOGl 
1809 


E OK EX 

1810 


1IBITION 

1811 


OF 

1812 


Cooper, G. . 










E 


Cotman, J. S. . . . 






M 


M 




Cox, DAVID. 




E 


P 


AM 


AM 


Craig.J 








E 


E 


Craig, W. M. 




E 


M 


AM 


AM 


Dagley, R 


E 










De Barde, Chevalier 










E 


DE WINT, P. ... 


E 


M 








Dighton, D 










E 


Dinsdale, George . 


E 


E 








Dixon, J. . . 








E 




Dixon, Robert 




E 








Douglass, J. . . . 










E 












E 


Foster, W 










E 


Francia, L. . . 


E 




M 


S 


S 


Gartside, Miss 


E 










Gauci, M. . 










E 


Goddard, J. (Strand) . 
Goddard, J. (Upper Grosvenor 








E 




Street) .... 








E 




Goodman, T. 










E 


Goodwin, E. ... 


E 


E 


E 




E 


Green, James . . 


T 


T 


T 






Green, Mrs. .... 


M 


M 


M 






Green, W 






E 


E 




Hassell, J 










E 


Hayter, G 










M 


Hewlett, J 


E 


E 


E 


M 


M 


Hoffland, T. C. . 










E 


HOLMES, J 


E 


M 


M 


AM 


AM 


Huet-Villiers, J. . 


M 


M 


M 


AM 


AM 


Ibbetson, John 








HE 


E 


Jones, Mrs. S. . . . 










E 


Kennion, Charles James 






E 






Laporte, John 


M 


M 


M 


AM 


E 


Leschallas, J. 


E 


E 








Leveque, J. . 










E 


MACKENZIE, FRED. 








E 


M 


Martin, . . . . 










E 


Meen, Mrs. .... 






M 






Morton, H. . 








E 


E 


NASH, FREDERICK 


E 


M 








O'Neill, H 










E 


Owen, Samuel 


M 


M 


M 






Papworth, John 


M 


S 




HM 


HM 


Pearson, William . 


E 


E 








Perkins, L. . . . 










E 


Powell, Joseph 


E 


E 


E 


E 


E 


PROUT, S 






M 


M 


M 


RICHTER, HENRY 




E 


M 


P 


P 


Roberts, T. Santell 




E 








Robertson, Andrew 


S 


M 


M 






Robertson, C. 




E 








Robertson, C. J. . 






E 






ROBSON, G. F. . 






E 


M 


M 


Sass, Richard 




E 








Schetky, J 
Schetky, J. C. 


E 


E 


E 

E 


M 
M 


M 
M 


Shepperson, M. 






E 


E 





CII. IV 



FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 
MEMBERS AND EXHIBITORS &c. continued. 



273 





IN 

1808 


CATALOG I 
1809 


E OF EXJ 

1810 


ilBITION 

1811 


OF 

1812 


Smith, Miss Emma 


M 










Smith, J. Clarendon 


E 


M 


M 






Smith, S 








E 


E 


Stanley, C. R. . 










E 


Steele, Miss J. 








E 


M 


Stephanoff, F. P. . 




E 


E 


M 




STEPHANOFF, JAMES . 




E 


E 


M 


M 


Stump, S. J. 










E 


Thomson, D. 


E 










Thomson, William John (or 












Thompson) 


M 


M 








Tulloch, Mrs. 




E 


E 






Turner, C. . 


E 










Upham, . 










E 


Walker, William (Junior) 


M 


M 


M 


AM 


AM 


Watts, William Henry . 


M 










WESTALL, WILLIAM 


M 


M 








Williams, H. W. . 


M 


M 








Wilson, Andrew . 


M 


M 


S 






Wood, William . 


P 


P 


M 







Events had thus appeared to demonstrate that there were as yet 
no sufficient means of subsistence for two co-ordinate societies. Nor 
was the survivor so conscious of vitality as to neglect the opportunity 
now offered of engrafting upon its own system any profitable element 
which had appertained to the defunct association. 

At the meeting at Hills's before referred to, on the 5th of 
November, 1812, it was first proposed to extend the scope of the 
exhibition in Spring Gardens, by inviting the co-operation of all 
painters in water-colours. But a resolution to this effect was rejected 
by a decisive majority, and a second proposal of a far more subver- 
sive kind was made and accepted. This was in fact to do what had 
been done by the rival Society in the last fatal year of its existence. 
A resolution was carried by a majority of ten to eight, ' that in 
future Members and Associates of this Society may send Oil Pictures 
as well as Drawings for Exhibition.' All the Members entitled to 
take part in the proceedings were present at this meeting, except 
Gilpin, Pocock, Pugin, Uwins, and Westall. At a further meeting, 
held at Glover's house in Montagu Square on the following Thurs- 
day, of eighteen Members, including Pugin and Uwins, this important 
subject was submitted to a long discussion, and the law admitting 
oil pictures was confirmed on a division, by the casting vote of 
Cornelius Varley. The result of this victory of the revolutionary 



274 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 EK. IV 

party was that Chalon, Stevens, and Dorrell immediately tendered 
their resignations. President Reinagle, also, in a letter (appa- 
rently not preserved) expressed his sentiments on the admission of 
oil pictures into the future exhibitions. They seem to have been 
unfavourable ; for he took no further part in the affairs of the 
Society. 

Four days after, however, on the i6th, there was another muster, 
at Glover's, of eighteen Members, who rescinded the above resolutions, 
and substituted the following : ' That the Society was established, as 
the preface to their first Catalogue declares, for the purpose of 
forming an Exhibition, which, consisting of " Water-Colour Pictures 
only, must from that circumstance give them a better arrangement 
and a fairer ground of appreciation than when mixed with Pictures 
in Oil." That the admission of Pictures in Oil would entirely change 
the character of the Society, and prove a manifest dereliction of that 
principle upon which they have hitherto uniformly laid their claim to 
the public support. That therefore the said Law admitting oil 
Pictures be rescinded. That, unconscious as the Society feel of any 
relaxation in their efforts to deserve public patronage, that patronage 
has been withdrawn from their two last Exhibitions. That, upon 
inquiry among the Members respecting the degree of support likely 
to be brought forward in their ensuing Exhibition, they cannot draw a 
hope of forming one that will in any degree vie with their last. That 
with such an evident decline in their Exhibition, the Society can see 
no other prospect than that of a serious deficiency in their receipts 
(those of the present year having done little more than cover their 
expences) and still further neglect from the Public. That therefore 
the Society do consider itself as dissolved on Monday, November 3<3th, 
its Anniversary, but that Members be summoned to attend on that 
day at Mr. Hills's at seven in the evening to receive the Report of 
their Committee, who are requested to be prepared with a final adjust- 
ment of the Society's affairs.' 

Thus on its eighth birthday the young Society, which first drew 
breath at the Stratford Coffee House in Oxford Street on the 3Oth of 
November, 1804, met at the house of their secretary, Robert Hills, 
No. 1 5 London Street, Fitzroy Square, with the intent of deliberate 
suicide. This final meeting was attended by Wells, Nicholson, 
Pocock, Chalon. Pugin, Nash, C. Varley, Rigaud, Smith, De Wint, 
Ilavcll, Uwins, Barret, Dorrell, Glover, Holworthy, J. Varley, Cristali, 



CH. IV FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 275 

Atkinson, Wild, and Hills. Havell took the chair, and for the long 
chain of resolutions above quoted was substituted the following short 
epitome of their result : ' That the Society, having found it imprac- 
ticable to form another Exhibition of Water-Colour Paintings only, 
do consider itself dissolved this night.' The books, vouchers &c. 
were ordered to be retained for reference in the hands of Rigaud 
and Hills, the treasurer and secretary of the moribund Society, and, 
with an entry to that effect, its minutes come to an end. 

We shall see, however, that the Society, taking indeed for a time 
a somewhat altered shape, was soon to spring again, like the Phcenix 
from its ashes. But certain of the old constituent elements were to 
form no part of the new body. A farewell has therefore to be taken 
of some of our present acquaintance, before again resuming the 
thread of the main history. 

Eight years had now passed over the heads of the original 
Members of the Water-Colour Society, and the same number of 
summers and winters had had their effect, whether of ripening or 
decay, upon the artists and their art. Of the little group of founders, 
the names of Wells and Rigaud appear no more. 

WELLS was now upwards of fifty. He had been an annual con- 
tributor to the gallery since 1805, to the number of about ninety 
works in all, but had exhibited no more than seven during the last 
three out of the five seasons. Besides subjects from his old sketches 
in Norway, and a few others from foreign lands (some doubtless from 
sketches by other travellers), his drawings include views in Kent, 
where he had the house at Knockholt in which the great Turner 
planned his Liber ; and in Wales, where, during a professional tour, 
he made sketches that came into the collection of Mr. Hibbert (to 
whom the volume of Gainsborough fac-similes by him and Laporte 
was dedicated). There were also ' landscape compositions,' and a 
few rustic figures. He had at the same time continued to exercise 
his calling as a teacher. Upon the completion of Addiscombe 
College he was appointed the first Professor of Drawing to that 
institution, an office he retained for twenty years. 

Wells was a man of industrious habits and fond of books. His 
latter days were passed in easy retirement, and he still enjoyed in 
quiet the partial practice of his art, at a cottage he purchased at 
Mitcham, where he lived for some years before his death. That 



276 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805 1812 UK. iv 

event took place there on the loth of November, 1836, in the seventy- 
fourth year of his age. 

RlGAUD had pursued his wonted path in the fields of fancy, 
exhibiting from three to ten drawings a year, amounting to fifty in 
all. One-fifth at least are sacred subjects, from the New or the Old 
Testament. The rest are for the most part illustrations of heathen 
mythology, and of the writings of Milton, Spenser and other British 
poets. A considerable number are from Ossian, and a few of the 
earlier, as already stated, are pure allegory. After severing from his 
former colleagues he showed his pictures again at the Royal Academy 
until 1815, and also at the British Institution and the Society of 
British Artists until 1852. In 1814 he exhibited a large picture 
of the ' Invasion of France ' in the preceding year, with portraits of 
Wellington and his generals. Including the fifty drawings at our 
Society, his exhibited works amounted in number to II8. 1 

The date and place of his death, as of his birth, have not been 
ascertained. During his membership he had moved from Titchfield 
Street to 48 London Street, Fitzroy Square, and thence to 19 Upper 
Thornhaugh Street, Bedford Square, all in the same much frequented 
artist quarter of London. Rigaud's name appears once more, how- 
ever, in the records of the Society, long after its last reconstruction, 
and in the days of its subsequent prosperity. It is recorded on the 
minutes of 3 August, 1849, that 'the Secretary read a letter from Mr. 
Rigaud, one of the original founders of the Society in 1804, stating 
his desire to be again recognized as a Member. The Secretary was 
directed to communicate to Mr. Rigaud that his letter had been 
heard with much interest, and with the respect due to a communication 
from the only surviving 2 original Member, but that according to the 
Laws it would be necessary for Mr. Rigaud to present some of his 
recent works for the consideration of the Society in the usual way of 
election, &c.' No further mention is made of the application. 

Final notice has to be taken at this epoch of several other artists 
with whose names the reader is more or less familiar. Reinagle, 
Chalon and Westall took no part in the proceedings of the new 

1 Graves's Dictionary. 

1 This was an error. Cornelius Varley was the last survivor. And, moreover, Rigaud 
was not one of the ten actual founders, though he joined them immediately after their union 
took place. 



CH. IV FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 277 

Society. All three soon became Associates, and afterwards full 
Members, of the Royal Academy. 

R. R. REINAGLE, who was President at the time of the dissolution, 
had been a steady contributor. He had exhibited sixty-two draw- 
ings, from first to last, all of them scenes in South Italy, or views in 
the PLnglish Lake district. No doubt they were carefully composed 
pictures. The artist, in describing them for the catalogue, is fond of 
specifying topographic particulars at more than usual length, and is 
careful to add the time of day at which the picture is supposed to be 
painted, as ' early in the morning,' ' forenoon,' ' noon,' ' sunset,' ' even- 
ing,' ' twilight,' and the like. 

He was thirty-seven when his connexion with the Water-Colour 
Society ceased, and a great part of his artistic career was still before 
him. He was made an Associate of the Academy in 1814, and an 
R.A. in 1823, and he exhibited there between 1788 and 1857 no less 
than 244 works. 1 But an unfortunate event occurred in 1848, which 
cast a blot upon his reputation somewhat allied to that which has 
been recorded of J. C. Nattes. He was charged with having 
exhibited at the Royal Academy, and sold as his own, a picture 
painted by another hand (that of a young artist named Yarnold, of 
whom little is known), which he had bought at a broker's. He had 
indeed added some of his own handiwcrk, so much of it in fact that 
a living critic who remembers seeing it assures the writer that he 
considered it ' a complete Reinagle.' But his brother Academicians 
refused to admit that this had converted it into a work of his own, 
and he was obliged to retire from their body. Possibly an employ- 
ment wherein he had been for some time engaged had induced an 
inverse habit of imitation which misguided the direction of his efforts. 
He had not been trying to engraft his own characteristics upon the 
works of other painters, but, on the contrary, training his hand to 
assume their several manners. He was, it is said, engaged at a daily 
fee by a picture dealer in Golden Square to restore old masters ; and 
to have become an adept in putting in figures and cattle where re- 
quired, touching up trees in Ruysdaels and Hobbemas, and to have 
been equal even to the completing of a Cuyp. 2 He was a skilful 
copyist of Caspar Poussins in the National Gallery. He began on 

1 Graves's Dictionary of Artists. 

* There is a story of his having overheard from his adjoining work-room a negotiation 
which ended in the purchase by Sir Robert Peel, on Lady Peel's persuasion, of a 700 



278 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

a red ground, and finished the picture in a day or so. 1 Reinagle was 
then more than seventy years of age, but full of life and energy. He 
was a man of great natural ability and intelligence, with a taste for 
mechanics and inventions. Some years after he had left the Academy, 
he took to discoursing upon technical art, and gave some lectures at 
about half-a-crown admission in one of the show rooms of his friend 
Collard, the pianoforte maker, who was fond of pictures. Some main- 
tained that he had been harshly treated by the Academy, and perhaps 
the opinion was held there. For a liberal allowance, made to him 
from the funds of that body, was continued to his death, which event 
occurred at Chelsea on the i^th of November, 2 1862, at the age of 
eighty-seven. 

Many of his landscapes have been engraved as book illustrations. 
From 1818 to 1828, and in 1830, the small pocket-book views in 
Peacock's Polite Repository, engraved by John Pye, are from R. R. 
Reinagle's designs. To W. B. Cooke's The Thames he supplied 
three of the plates, viz. 'Richmond,' dated i Feb. 1819; ' Sion 
House,' i Nov. 1821 ; 'Opening of Waterloo Bridge,' I Aug. 1822. In 
the Bijou for 1828 is ' Haddon Hall ' (z\ x 3| in.), engraved after him 
by R. Wallis. In Tillotson's Album of Scottish Scenery (1834?) is 
' Bothwell Castle,' engraved after him by E. Finden. In J. M. W. 
Turner's Views in Sussex, engraved by W. B. Cooke, 1819 (Part 
i : no more published), the ' scientific and explanatory notices of 
the drawings' are by R. R. Reinagle. 

J. J. CHALON was not received into the Academy until long after. 
He was made A.R.A. in 1827, and R.A. in 1841. In the mean time 
he exhibited works there of greater interest and importance than 
any he had sent to the Water-Colour Society, showing his versatility 
and power in painting both landscape and genre, and giving character 
to his figures as well as grouping them with skill. His works at the 
Society from 1806 to 1812 numbered fifty-one, mostly studies by 
the Thames or the Wye, with rustic figures to match. In 1809 he has 
a view of the fire at Drury Lane Theatre, seen from Westminster 

guinea Hobbema in the conversion of which he had had a hand. Sir Robert, it is added, 
who was doubtful of it from the first, retained it in his gallery, though not on the line, as au 
interesting specimen of clever imitation. 

1 Three of his copies from the Rubenses at Antwerp were exhibited at 61 Pall Mall in 
1819. See Description, 8vo. 1819. (S., K, Lib.) 

* Redgrave. Ottley says ' December. ' 



CH . 



FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 279 



Bridge. He gave to Greenwich Hospital a picture of ' Napoleon on 
board the Bellerophon, 1815,' and there is a large and striking oil 
painting of ' Hastings ' by him at the South Kensington Museum. 
A set of Twenty-four Subjects exhibiting the Costume of Paris, ' the 
incidents taken from nature, designed and drawn on stone by 
J. J. Chalon,' small folio, was published in 1822, the dates on the 
plates being from May 1820. Most of them have a touch of humour. 

Neither he nor his brother ever married, and their close com- 
panionship was only severed by John's death, which took place on 
the i4th of November, 1854, at the age of seventy-four, after a long 
illness, commencing with a paralytic seizure in 1847. His brother 
followed him in less than six years, dying at the same old house at 
Campden Hill where the two had passed together the autumn of their 
lives. They were regarded with much esteem, and their social 
qualities made them always welcome in the high professional circle 
in which they moved. 

The name of the brothers Chalon must not be dismissed from 
this record without a memorandum of a pleasant club of which they 
are said to have been the founders, as they were for many years its 
life and soul, called The Sketching Society. It was not confined to 
Members of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours, but the two 
bodies had Members enough in common to justify our regarding the 
former as in some measure an offshoot of the latter. The father of 
such Societies was that accredited to Girtin, of which an account has 
already been given. Rut that now spoken of was the most celebrated, 
and left the most enduring visible results. Earlier meetings of the 
same kind are spoken of as having taken place among the first 
Members of the Water-Colour Society, even from the time of its 
foundation in 1804, when 'a friendly society' is alleged to have 
met ' at the house of each in rotation, there to spend the evening 
in sketching, composition &c. &c.' To its meetings John Varley, 
it is said, though ' not one of the original members, was always 
invited, his talent as an artist, social qualities, and liberality in 
imparting information to his brother artists securing him always a 
welcome.' ' Sketches by Havell and Atkinson also are believed to 
have been made on such occasions. Of this earlier body Cristall 
was a Member, and perhaps the originator. It was dissolved 
before the foundation of the more celebrated 'Sketching Society.' 2 

1 Art Union, Jan. 1843. * Letter from A. E. Chalon. J. J. J. MSS. 



280 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. IV 

Though it was popularly known by the above name, the original 
title of the more celebrated club was ' The Society for the Study of 
Epic and Pastoral Design.' It originated with the two Chalons, and 
Francis Stevens, at whose house in Wigmore Street the first meeting 
was held on the 6th of January (Twelfth Night), 1808, when the plan 
of the Society was arranged. Its first members, besides the above 
three, were Turner (of Oxford) and Cornelius Varley (fellow-Members 
with them of the Water-Colour Society), with Thomas Webster, the 
architect, above mentioned as a companion of the Varleys in Wales 
in 1802, and Michael Sharp, a painter of portraits and popular 
subjects of a humorous class. To these at the second meeting was 
added Henry Pierce Bone, the portrait painter in enamel, above 
mentioned as one of the Associated Artists in 1808, who was then 
working chiefly in oil, and composing subjects from history and 
poetic fiction. The number was at first limited to eight, but two or 
three honorary Members were afterwards admitted, and the president 
for the evening had the privilege of introducing one visitor. The 
Society held weekly meetings during the winter season from October 
to April. At the anniversary they indulged in a little extra merri- 
ment, with toasts and speeches round a Twelfth cake, and at Mid- 
summer they made an excursion together to visit ' something beautiful 
in nature or art, generally in both,' winding up the day with a 
dinner at Richmond or Greenwich, ' or some other country retreat.' 
The ordinary meetings, on the model of Girtin's Society, were held 
at each other's houses ' in rotation, the host of the evening being also 
president, and giving out the subject to be treated after tea and 
coffee. At eight o'clock they commenced operations, and at ten 
sat down to supper, a very simple meal at first, but as their appetites 
grew more fastidious it became so luxurious that laws were found 
necessary to restrain it. After supper the drawings were collected 
by the president, and put up separately for each member to criticize ; 
and this was done with more candour and judgment than is usually 
found in professional critics. The drawing remained the property 
of the president of the evening (who by ancient law was not allowed 
to sell or otherwise dispose of them during his life without the 
consent of the Society), and thus ended a very agreeable and 
not ill-spent evening.' * In accordance with the name chosen for the 

1 Memoir of Thomas Uwins, R.A., \. 163, 164. 



CH. iv FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 281 

Society, the subjects at first were ' chiefly from the ancient classics,' 
and, according to Pyne, ' the host prepared written extracts on 
separate slips ' for the use of the members (whose school memories 
were perhaps not always to be trusted), besides providing, as in duty 
bound, 'paper strained on drawing frames, pencils, and -sepia.' l 
Afterwards the scope allowed was almost unlimited. The Sketching 
Society had a bright existence, and lasted for forty years. It will 
be recurred to at a period of its greater fame. 

One of the last drawings exhibited by WILLIAM WESTALL with 
the Water-Colour Society was a view of Port Jackson (in the gallery 
of 1812), doubtless that now at South Kensington with the date 
1804. It forms one of the illustrations (engraved in line from his 
drawings) of the two quarto volumes containing the history of the 
ill-fated expedition to which he had begun life as draftsman. In the 
South Kensington Catalogue it is described as ' painted in the tinted 
manner, but with local colour used with opaque white sparingly 
for the high lights." The book did not come out until 1814, when 
it was published with the title A Voyage to Terra Australis, ' under- 
taken for the purpose of completing the discovery of that vast 
country, and prosecuted in the years 1801, 1802, and 1803, in his 
Majesty's ship the Investigator, and subsequently in the armed vessel 
Porpoise and Cumberland schooner : with an account of the ship- 
wreck of the Porpoise, arrival of the Cumberland at Mauritius, and 
imprisonment of the commander during six years and a half in 
that island ; by Matthew Flinders, commander of the Investigator! 
The following eminent landscape line engravers were employed 
therein in reproducing Westall's designs, namely : J. Byrne, S. Middi- 
man, J. Pye, L. Scott, and W. Woolnoth. Captain Flinders died in 
July 1814, on the very day on which the book was published. 3 
Westall was also employed by the Admiralty to make pictures from 
some of the views, which, being exhibited in 1812 at the Royal 
Academy, attracted great attention by reason of the absolute novelty 
of the subjects. In the same year he was made an Associate of the 
last-named body, his short connexion with the Water-Colour Society 
coming to an end at the same time. 

It is, however, upon his water-colour drawings, rather than upon 
his oil paintings, that his reputation rests. Even the former are 

1 Somerset House Gazette, \. 35. * Fenny Cyclopizdia. 



282 THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 BK. iv 

chiefly known through the medium of engravings. ' His colouring,' 
says John Landseer the engraver, 1 ' was chaste, and his chiaroscuro 
harmonious, never flashing, or forced, or meretricious. The obtain- 
ment of fleeting popularity was quite out of his way : the artist was 
never obtruded before the demands of the subject : and hence 
Westall's forte was rather landscape portraiture than the treatment 
of ideal subjects; hence too, and from a corresponding want of critical 
discrimination on the part of the public, he was not as a landscape 
painter one, besides, who had seen much more of the world than 
his academical brethren duly appreciated, although justly valued by 
the judicious few." Westall's professional career had scarcely passed 
its first stage when he joined and left the Water-Colour Society. 
According to Graves, seventy of his works are named in the 
catalogues of the Royal Academy, thirty in those of the British In- 
stitution, and seven in those of the Society of British Artists, between 
the years 1801 and 1849, the last of his life. 

His integrity of character and unassuming manners secured him 
many valuable friendships, among them that of Sir George and Lady 
Beaumont, who when staying at Keswick were induced to seek him 
out on observing the merit of one of his Indian sketches at a stationer's 
shop there. His acquaintance with Professor Inman, astronomer to 
Flinders's expedition, led indirectly to one with the Rev. Richard 
Sedgwick, whose daughter Ann, the youngest sister of the eminent 
geologist, Professor Adam Sedgwick, he married on the 22nd of 
September, i82o. 2 She died in 1862. 

The incidents of travel in his youthful days seem to have quenched 
any thirst for adventure that he may have possessed ; for, with one 
exception, he passed the rest of his life in his own country, sketch- 
ing chiefly, but not exclusively, in the fine scenery of the North of 
England, with which, after all he had seen, he was much impressed ; 
and working up for the engraver both home and foreign studies, to 
be reproduced in popular series for many a year. The exception was 
a visit to Paris in the spring of 1847, the only time, strange to say, 
that he ever set foot on the continent of Europe. In the following 
autumn he met with an accident, which, though not immediately 
fatal, brought about his death on the 22nd of January, 1850, in his 

1 See Art Journal, April 1850, p. 105. 

2 The Life of Sedgwick, published in 1890, contains some landscape woodcuts and 
portraits from drawings by W. Westall, made in or before the year of his marriage. 



CH. iv FALL OF THE FIRST SOCIETY 283 

sixty- ninth year, at St. John's Wood, where he had chiefly resided 
since his marriage. 

The following works (mostly named in order of date) are illustrated, 
wholly or in part, by William Westall : Views of Scenery in Madeira, 
the Cape, China, and India, 1811; Ackermann's History of Oxford, 
1813-14 (eight of the plates); Ackermann's History of Cambridge, 
1815 (twenty-one of the plates) ; Ackermann's History of Winchester, 
Eton, Westminster &c., 1816 (fifteen of the plates); Cooke's Pic- 
turesque Vieivs of the Southern Coast, 2 vols. folio, 1826 ('South- 
ampton,' i Jan. 1814; 'Netley Abbey,' i Oct. 1816); Pyne's History 
of the Royal Residences, 1819 (six of the plates) ; Views of the Caves 
near Ingleton, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove in Yorkshire, 4to, 1 8 1 8 
(twelve strongly shaded aquatints, 'drawn and etched by Wm. Westall, 
A.R.A.') ; A Series of Views of the Abbeys and Castles in Yorkshire, 
'drawn and engraved by W. Westall, A.R.A., and F. Mackenzie, 1 
folio, 1820, letterpress by T. D. Whitaker, LL.D. (four of the eight 
aquatint plates ' ) ; Fourteen views of the Lake and Vale of Kesivick, 
drawn and engraved by W. Westall, A.R.A., 4to, 1820; Britannia 
Illustrata (Kent), folio, Rodwell & Martin, 1822 (two lithographs, 
'Canterbury from North Lane, i Feb. 1822;' and 'The Valley of 
Maidstone, looking towards Allingham, pub. Ackermann, 1823 '); 
Views on the Thames at Richmond, Eton, Windsor, and Oxford,' imp. 
4to, 1 824 (thirty-five large views lithographed by Hullmandel); Vieivs 
in Egypt and Nubia, 4to, Murray, 1824-5, letterpress by Edw. J. 
Cooper, lithographs after drawings by S. Bossi, drawn on stone by 
W. Westall and J. D. Harding (those by Westall comprise land- 
scape, architecture, and figures) ; Picturesque Tour of the River 
Thames, twenty-four coloured aquatints and two vignettes 'from 
original drawings taken on the spot by Wm. Westall and Samuel 
Owen,' folio, Ackermann, 1828 (twenty are by Westall, chiefly repre- 
seting gentlemen's seats below Oxford, and the bridges in London) ; 
Great Britain Illustrated, ' a series of original views from drawings 
by William Westall, A.R.A., engraved by and under the direction of 
Edward Finden, with descriptions by Thomas Moule, 4to, Tilt, 1830' 
(the views, 161 in all, are placed two on a plate, dated 1828-30; 
editions dated 1832 and 1834, in two vols. 8vo, with 119 plates, 
bear the prefixed title ' Landscape Album '). 

To the steel-plate annuals and drawing-room books he also con- 
1 The British Museum has a unique copy with three unpublished plates. 



284 



THE WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY, 1805-1812 



r,K iv 



tributed views, of which the following is a (probably imperfect) list : 
In the Forget-me-not, 1831, 'The Boa Ghaut;' 1834, 'The Hong 
Merchant's Garden ' (eng. by E. Goodall). In Tillotson's Illustrations 
of Byron, 3 vols. 4to, 1833-4, ' Cagliari, Sardinia ; ' ' Newstead Abbey ,' 
' The Fountain at Newstead,' and ' Hucknell Church, Notts ' (vignettes 
from 'Life and Works of Byron,' I2mo, Murray) ; and another' New- 
stead Abbey ' (from a sketch by C. Fellows, Esq.). In Tillotson's 
Album of Scottish Scenery, ' Woodstock ' (from a drawing in the 
collection of George III.) and ' Nidpath Castle' (from a sketch by 
F. Skene), both engraved by E. Finden. In Tillotson's New 
Waverley Album, ' Windermere.' In the Keepsake for 1839, 'Byron 
contemplating the Coliseum.' Plates of this kind, however, appeared 
and reappeared, being made to do duty in successive publications, so 
that it is not easy to trace them to the first issue. For example, a print 
of the ' Fortress of Bowrie ' (from a sketch by Captain Auber) in 
Emma Roberts's Hindostan, 2 vols. 4to, 1845, ma 7 a l so be found in 
Fisher's Drawing-room Scrap Book for 1836, itself a receptacle for 
plates already published elsewhere. Westall also did some work 
for the illustrated pocket-books. 1 

1 Dr. Percy's Sale Catalogue, Lot 1431. 



BOOK V 

THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY 
1813-1820 



CHAPTER I 

A NEW SOCIETY 

Reconstitution Oil pictures, portraits, and sculpture admitted Non-members allowed to 
exhibit Claim of continuity Changes of personnel An independent water-colour 
exhibition Final biographies of retiring Members Nicholson Gilpin Holworthy. 

IN strictness it may be insisted that by the end of the year 1812 the 
original Society of Painters in Water-Colours had ceased to exist. 
But the severance of its ties was not an absolute disruption. The 
Members of whom it had been composed divided themselves into two 
opposing factions, consisting respectively of those who favoured, and 
those who dissented from, the scheme of admitting oil pictures to the 
future exhibitions. The reforming party had already taken measures 
to carry into effect the resolutions which they had succeeded in passing 
on the 1 6th of November. For between that date and the final meet- 
ing of the 3Oth, namely on the 26th of that month, the following 
group had assembled at John Varley's house, in Broad Street, Golden 
Square, in order to form ' a society for the purpose of establishing an 
exhibition consisting of pictures in oil and water colours.' Nicholson 
took the chair, and, besides him, there were present, of the original 
set, Barret, Cristall, Havell, Holworthy, and John and Cornelius 
Varley ; with Smith and Uwins, the Associate Fielding, and two 
artists who had not hitherto joined the Society, namely James Holmes 
and John Linnell. It was then and there resolved that the new body 
should consist of twenty Members, and that a select number of other 
artists should be specially invited to contribute to the exhibitions, but 
that the gallery should not be thrown open to the profession in general. 



286 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. V 

At another meeting, held two days after at the same place, it was re- 
solved that, ' notwithstanding the promiscuous admission of works in 
oil and water colours,' it should ' always be considered a leading 
principle that in the arrangement of the exhibition the two classes be 
kept separate and distinct,' the centre of the room being devoted 
exclusively to paintings in water-colours. It was moreover agreed, 
according to a plan suggested by Glover, who had now joined the 
confederacy, that the arrangement and division should be so con- 
trived that the public might be compelled to pass through the water-, 
colour department before conning to the pictures in oil. 1 

On the 3rd of December, the old Society having in the mean time 
been formally dissolved, the promoters of the new one met again at 
Glover's in Montagu Square, and drew up the following list of 
Members, to constitute the ' Society of Painters in Oil and Water 
Colours ' : 



George Barret 
Joshua Cristall 
David Cox 

A. V. Copley Fielding 
James Holworthy 
John Varley 
Francis Nicholson 
John Linnell 



John Glover 

Miss Harriet Gouldsmith 
William Havell 
James Holmes 
Cornelius Varley 
William Turner 
Thomas Uwins 
John Smith 



On the I7th Nicholson was elected President ; Smith, Secretary; 
Barret, Treasurer ; and Uwins, C. Varley, Glover and Cristall were 
chosen to constitute the first Committee. To the above Members were 
added by election on the 4th and i8th of February, 1813, respectively, 
Frederick Mackenzie and Henry Richter. The artists whose names 
are in italics had not been connected with the defunct Society ; and 
Fielding and Cox had been admitted thereto as Associates only, the 
latter not having even exhibited in its gallery. 

Atkinson, Pugin, Nash, Scott, Clennell, and C. Barber now ex- 
pressed themselves as favourable to the views of the reconstituted 
Society, and they all exhibited with it, though they did not join it as 
Members. Heaphy, Nash, and De Wint, as well as Clennell, had been 
invited to become Members ; but Heaphy held aloof altogether, and 

1 Such favouring of the water-colours afterwards gave rise to complaints of injustice to the 
oil. See Elmes's Annals of the Fine Arts (1820), pp. 140, 170. 



CH. I A NEW SOCIETY 287 

the other three contented themselves with aiding it as exhibitors 
only, as did also the former Members, Miss Byrne, Dorrell, Stevens, 
and Wild. 

The promoters of the. new Society proceeded to draw up a set of 
rules, retaining for the most part the original code, as far as it could 
be applied to the new conditions. They obtained a transfer of the 
intermittent lease of the Spring Gardens Gallery, took at a valuation 
the plant and fittings of their predecessors, and prepared to open an 
exhibition in the following spring. Invitations to contribute were 
sent to several artists of repute, as well as to their old colleagues, and 
the scope of the exhibition was extended so as to admit (with the oil 
paintings) not only portraits and miniatures, but a few designs in 
sculpture. Non-members were, as before, nominally restricted to five 
works apiece, but the number was afterwards extended to eight. 
Twenty-nine non-members co-operated with the eighteen Members, 
making forty-seven exhibitors in all ; and the number of works brought 
together was 250 of all kinds, the great majority being still by artists 
who had earned their chief celebrity as painters in water-colours. 

Although the original Society had in reality been dissolved, it 
seems to have been the policy of the new one, by clothing itself as 
far as possible with the same external aspect, to hide the breach of 
continuity which had in fact occurred. The words ' oil and ' are 
prefixed to those of ' water colours ' on the title-page of the catalogue ; 
but in typographical details and general appearance it is similar to 
those which had gone before it, and the exhibition of 1813 is boldly 
numbered as ' The Ninth.' Moreover, an advertisement is there 
inserted, in the following words, which will not bear a close com- 
parison with the records contained in the minute-books, from which 
chiefly the foregoing account has been compiled : ' THE SOCIETY OF 
PAINTERS IN WATER-COLOURS stimulated by Public Encourage- 
ment, and gaining Confidence from Success, have ventured this year 
on a considerable extension of their Plan. Pictures in Oil and in 
Water Colours, Portraits, Models, and Miniatures are admitted into 
the present Exhibition ; and should these increased efforts receive 
from the Public that liberal support which has always accompanied 
the former exertions of this Society, every Year may produce fresh 
sources of Amusement, and each succeeding Exhibition become more 
worthy of Approbation and Patronage.' Notwithstanding the proposed 
contrivances to ensure the prominence of the water-colour drawings, 



288 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813 1820 UK. v 

and their due presentation to an eye unfatigued with the glare of oil, 
there is no distinction at all in the catalogues between the two classes, 
so that it is impossible to tell therefrom in which material any given 
work was painted. 1 

Under the above conditions, exhibitions were held for the next 
eight years, 1813 to 1820, in this 'great room' at Spring Gardens. 
They constitute the second period, upon which we now enter, in the 
annals of our present history. It will be narrated how, at the close of 
that period, the Society reverted to the original scheme, and became 
once more a body of painters in water-colours only. 

The following further changes in the personnel of the Society took 
place before the close of the first year. Nicholson, notwithstanding the 
prominent part he had taken in forming and inaugurating the new 
Society, tendered his resignation in the November of 1813, and sent 
nothing to the exhibition of the following year. He was, however, 
specially permitted to exhibit as a ' Member ' in 1815, after which year 
his name disappears from the catalogues. Richter, too, threw up his 
Membership in December 1813, but gave help for some time after 
as an occasional Exhibitor, and eventually, as we shall see, rejoined 
the Society. Two new Members, however, were elected in the same 
month, namely, George Fennel Robson, and the former President of 
1805, William Sawrey Gilpin. But the latter name is attached to 
five drawings only in 1814, with 'no effects' in 1815, and then dis- 
appears altogether. 

There was a rule (not always strictly enforced) that every Member 
should contribute one work at least to each exhibition. In 1814, 
Holworthy, having failed to do so, was called upon to explain, and 
thereupon resigned. In the catalogue for the same year we find the 
name of William Havell transferred from the list of Members to that 
of Exhibitors. After 1816 it is not to be found again for a long 
series of years. In 1827 he returned to the Society for a short period. 
But Nicholson, Gilpin, and Holworthy were leaving, or shortly to 
leave, it for good and all. 

We are left in the dark as to the circumstances of Nicholson's 
retirement, and it is somewhat of a surprise to come upon his name 
in a group of separatists from the body of his old colleagues. It 
seems that, after the abandonment by the original Society of their 

1 In 1813, Glover, Hills, Turner, Havell, and J. Varlcy had oil pictures. (Papworth 
MS.) In 1818 about half were in oils. (Literary Gaset/c.) 



CH. I A NEW SOCIETY 289 

attempt to maintain an exclusive exhibition of water-colour drawings, 
an independent effort was made to set on foot an annual gathering of 
the kind; and with this view a gallery was opened 'at the Public 
Room, New Bond Street' (No. 23), in 1814, with an exhibition 
of 193 ' Paintings in Water-Colours,' which the promoters declared 
to be ' unconnected with any Society or Establishment whatever.' 
Several of the old Society's Members (including its Presidents for 
1813 and 1814) were among the contributors. F. Nicholson had 
21 works, F. Nash II, 5. Rigaud 9, and J. Smith 3. Some, whose 
names had been included with the 'Associated Artists' in 1808, 
were also of the number. A second exhibition opened there in 
1815, on the 3rd of May, with 205 works, including 3 by Nicholson, 
3 by Nash, and 4 by Wild. Several artists who had yet to win 
their spurs as Members of our own Society, were contributors to 
these exhibitions. 1 But it was the same old story. Already it was 
found necessary to eke out the attraction by admitting some oil 
paintings, together with a few ' old masters ; ' and we hear nothing 
more of the venture. 2 

FRANCIS NICHOLSON, at the time of his retirement, had exhibited 
277 works on the Society's walls, in numbers varying from 13 (in 
1815 3 ) to 41 (in 1809); having been absent but one season, that of 
1814. The subjects embraced views among the mountains and lakes 
of Wales and Scotland, Yorkshire abbeys, Chedder rocks, and hills 
and vales of Lynton and Lynmouth ; with a shipwreck or two at 
Scarborough, and, latterly, a few foreign views, done from sketches by 
amateurs. Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Bart. ; Sir Richard Colt 
Hoare, Bart., and John Thornton, Esq., supplied some of these, 
Nicholson's original study of nature, like that of most of his brother 
landscape painters in the war-time, having been confined to his own 
well-stored country. There are two Irish views in 1812 and 1813, 
from sketches by Sir Thomas Gage, Bart. The artist himself is not 
known to have been in Ireland ; but his son Alfred, who, after serving 
in the navy, followed his father's profession as a water-colour painter 

1 Samuel Prout had 10 works in 1814, and 18 in 1815. To the first exhibition 
G. F. Rohson contributed 2 ; and in the second J. D. Harding\\a& 5, and H. Gastineau 4. 

* Catalogues of the two exhibitions are preserved in the Library at the South Kensington 
Museum under the William Smith bequest. 

* As one (and one only) of these thirteen works is described in the catalogue as ' painted 
in water-colours,' it is to be inferred that the remaining twelve were in oil. 

U 



290 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

and teacher of drawing, made many sketches in the Emerald Isle, 
during a residence there of three or four years commencing in i8i3. 1 

John Landseer, writing in 1808, observes of our painter's art : 
' Mr. Nicholson generally chooses to paint romantic rocks and water- 
falls and lake scenery, of which there are several pictures in the 
present Exhibition, and in our opinion his generalized style is far 
better suited to such subjects than to subjects where (as in Gothic 
architecture) portraiture in detail is more imperiously required.' 2 

Pyne, writing in 1823, records, in words before quoted, his ob- 
servations on the influence of Nicholson's drawings upon the landscape 
school of his day, when the results of his new technical processes 
came to be displayed. And the critic adds that although each 
professor ' continued to pursue his own particular style, yet the ex- 
ample of such works, exhibiting, as they did, powers and capacities 
in the materials with which they were wrought, that had been de- 
veloped by ' Nicholson ' alone, acted as a stimulus to their exertions.' 3 
Nicholson himself was fond of strong, bold effects of light and shade. 
He considered Claude's gradation of light ' tame and almost insipid,' 
preferring the sudden gleams, or ' accidents ' as he called them, of 
G. Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Wilson. The chiaroscuro of 
Reynolds, Wilson, Barret, and Gainsborough, was, in his opinion, 
carried, in principle and practice, to a greater degree of perfection 
than was ever attained by the Venetian painters. These views ap- 
pear in an elaborate treatise on his art, which he published after 
ceasing to be a Member of our Society, under the following title : 
Tlie Practice of Drawing and Painting Landscape from Nature in Water- 
Colours, ' exemplified in a series of instructions calculated to facilitate 
the progress of the learner, including the elements of Perspective, 
their application in sketching from nature, the explanation of various 
processes of colouring, for producing from the outline a finished pic- 
ture, with observations on the study of nature, and various other 
matters relating to the Arts. By Francis Nicholson. London, 1820.' 
The author dedicated his book to the Hon. Mrs. Fortescue, with a 
compliment to her proficiency in art, and thanks for ' numerous 
favours and acts of kindness from her and her family.' So he was 
still in the enjoyment of high patronage among amateurs of the 
brush. 

1 Redgrave's Dictionary. * Review of Publications in Art, p. 199. 

3 Somerset House Gazette, i. 30, 31. 



CH. I A NEW SOCIETY 291 

With the exception of eighteen, noted by Graves between 1789 and 
1833 at other galleries, Nicholson confined the exhibition of his 
works to that of the Water-Colour Society. But he continued to 
teach, by example as well as by precept. His treatise passed quickly 
through several and enlarged editions ; and he took advantage of the 
newly invented process of lithography to put a large number of 
drawings, several hundred it is said, upon stone, which, serving as 
' copies ' for students, have been thumbed and torn and worn away 
like old school books, and consequently become rare. Among his 
views so executed are eighty-one large lithographs from Sketches of 
British Scenery, obi. folio, 1821, and Six Views of Scarborough, imp. 
folio, 1822. 

Besides the earlier ones already mentioned, engravings after 
Nicholson's drawings may be found in the following works : Tn the 
Beauties of England and Wales are ' Porchester Castle,' 1 805 ; two 
views of ' Netley Abbey,' 1805, 1806, both from sketches by Dayes ; 
'St. Vincent's Rocks, near Clifton,' 1806, and ' Prudhoe Castle, 1 1811. 
In Havell's aquatints of Noblemen's and Gentlemen's Seats is ' Pan- 
theon, Stourhead Gardens' (Mr. Colt Hoare), 1817. In the Northern 
Cambrian Mountains, folio, 1820, are 'Rhaiadyr y Wennol ' (No. 31) 
and ' Denbigh Castle ' (No. 36), both highly coloured aquatints, by 
T. Fielding, I May, 1820. In Facsimiles of Water-Colour Drawings, 
published by Bowyer, 1825, are 'Robin Hood's Bay 1 (PI. 4), 'Ship- 
wreck near Scarborough ' (PI. 7), ' Dropping Well, Knaresborough ' 
(PI. 9). 

' Eminent as was his position as an artist,' says Ottley, ' he was 
also distinguished for his practical knowledge in mechanics, music, 
optics, chemistry, which led him often to try experiments, often 
highly interesting in their result. It was his practice to paint upon 
unbleached paper, and to use water-colours, the durability of which 
his experience had established. Some of his experimental drawings 
after thirty or forty years' probation remained as fresh and full in 
colour as when they were first executed.' ' 

The latter years of Nicholson's life present an agreeable picture 
of ease and enjoyment of a competency acquired by successful 
industry. Long retired from professional practice, he continued to 
use the pencil for his own pleasure, and to amuse himself with his 
trials of colours and vehicles. He had had the satisfaction of seeing 

1 Supplement to Bryan's Dictionary of Painters &>c. (1876). 

U 2 



292 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

some at least of his talent inherited in another generation. But the 
picture is saddened by the death in 1833, after a painful illness, of the 
son already mentioned. A daughter exhibited two Scotch land- 
scapes at Spring Gardens in 1815 ; and another son appears to have 
been the draftsman of two series of lithographs entitled respectively, 
Six Views of Picturesque Scenery in Goathland, folio, 10 Oct. 1821 ; 
and Six Views of Picturesque Scenery in Yorkshire, 10 Sep. 1822, 
published at Malton. 1 

Nicholson continued to reside in Upper Titchfield Street till 1806, 
from which date till 1810 his address is i Great Chesterfield Street, 
Marylebone. In 1811 he moves to 52 Charlotte Street, Portland 
Place, where he continued to reside until his death there on the 6th 
of March, 1844, at the ripe age of fourscore and ten. From internal 
evidence, the autobiographical notes so largely quoted from in an 
earlier part of this history appear to have been written during the 
last five years of his life. They would thus indicate a remarkable 
retention of memory. 

The highest price recorded by Mr. Redford in his Art Sales for 
one of Nicholson's drawings is ioi/. i?s. for a 'Stirling Castle' 
(13 x 1 8 in.), painted in 1806, and sold in 1869 at that price. 

Of WILLIAM SAWREY GILPIN there is little more to relate. He 
exhibited in all eighty-three works with the Society, including five in 
1815, in annual numbers of from three (in 1809) to twenty (in 1805) 
during his membership. In his post of drawing master at the 
Military College he was transferred with the college from Great 
Marlow to Sandhurst, where he was residing in 1814 and 1815. 
Except a few early sketches at the Lakes of Killarney, his subjects 
are chiefly confined to ordinary views about his home on the Thames, 
and in Kent, Surrey, and Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight, with a 
few about Cheltenham and in Glamorganshire. After leaving the 
Society he devoted himself to the art of landscape gardening, both 
in its theory and practice, and ' obtained almost a monopoly ' therein. 
' His principal works were in Ireland at Crum Castle, Enniskillen 
Castle, and the seats of Lord Cawdor and Lord Blayney ; in England 
he laid out the gardens of Dansfield, near Henley-on-Thames, and at 
Sir E. Kerrison's seat near Hoxne, Suffolk.' 2 He moreover published 

1 See Dr. Percy's MS. Catalogue. 

2 Dictionary of National Biography. 



CH. I A NEW SOCIETY 293 

a volume entitled Practical Hints upon Landscape Gardening ; witli 
some Remarks on Domestic Architecture, as connected with Scenery, 8vo, 
London, 1832, with lithographic illustrations. He married Elizabeth 
Paddock, by whom he left two sons. His death, at the age of eighty- 
one, occurred in 1 843, at Sedbury Park, in Yorkshire. 

JAMES HOLWORTHY had not been a large exhibitor. His name 
had appeared in each year's catalogue, but the total number of the 
works to which it is appended is only twenty-nine. They represent 
picturesque stock subjects in England and Wales, ruined castles pre- 
dominating. Redgrave says that he continued to practise in London 
up to 1822. On the i5th of October, 1821,' he married, at Hastings, 
Miss Anne Wright, an artist daughter of Richard Wright, M.D., who 
was an elder brother of the painter Joseph Wright, commonly called 
' Wright of Derby.' He then retired into the country, having pur- 
chased some property called the Brookfield estate, near Hathersage, in 
the county of Derby, where he built Brookfield House. There was 
no issue of the marriage, which was severed by his death on the loth 
of June, 1841, followed in the next year by that of his widow. His 
grave is at Kensal Green. 2 

1 Redgrave assigns the date 1824 to Ihis event. 

* See The Life and Works of Wright of Derby, by William Bemrose, folio (1885), p. 4. 



294 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 KK. v 



CHAPTER II 

MEMBERS OF THE OLD SOCIETY 

Retrospect in 1820 Further biographies of old Members Havell PocockJ. Smith 
Barret CristallGlmier Hills. 

THE reader being reminded of the division of this history, so far, 
into two periods of eight years, the first from 1 805 to 1812, when the 
annual exhibitions were confined to paintings or drawings in water- 
colours ; the second from 1813 to 1820, when oil pictures and other 
works of art were admitted also, and of the fact above stated, that at 
the end of the second period the Society reverted to the scheme 
adopted during the first ; and a more detailed account being for the 
present deferred of the circumstances which led to and attended this 
reform ; the last-mentioned date will now be taken as a convenient 
standpoint from which to cast a retrospective glance at the pro- 
ceedings of the Society, and the doings of its Members and other 
Exhibitors, to that epoch. 

In this year 1820, Pocock was seventy-nine, and 'Warwick' 
Smith seventy-one. Barret, Cristall, and Glover were each fifty-three 
years old, and Hills was fifty-one. John Varley was forty-two ; 
Pugin and Dorrell were nearly as old ; and Wild, Nash, and Uwins 
followed at about thirty-eight. Then came a younger and rising 
race of artists, some of them not hitherto mentioned. De Wint, Cox, 
and Prout were about six years younger than Varley ; and Fielding, 
Robson, and Turner, younger again by a somewhat shorter interval, 
the last-named being thirty-one. Three years before this, Pocock 
had finally ceased to exhibit, and Glover had abandoned the Society, 
under circumstances yet to be related. Uwins, too, had retired the 
year after, and Dorrell's name had appeared for the last time in the 
catalogue, in 1819. Havell, as aforesaid, had given up his member- 
ship in 1813, and exhibited nothing since 1816. The biographies of 
these first Members have now to be continued to the epochs named. 



CH. II MEMBERS OF THE OLD SOCIETY 295 

WILLIAM HAVELL had not now taken his final leave ; but the 
Society was in another phase of its history when he afterwards re- 
joined it. Since he had been received as one of its first Members, he 
had not only justified his position by the quality of his contributions, 
but had taken a place in the leading rank as an artist in landscape. 
His compositions, says Pyne, ' were much admired even in the first 
year's exhibition in Brook Street, whilst he was yet a very young 
man. He had already proved himself an attentive observer of nature 
for his landscape subjects were well chosen, and truly characteristic 
of English scenery. . . . Havell, however, was not contented with an 
occasional trip from London, to snatch a new hint, by hasty sketching 
from real scenes, to work into pictures at his return, as many had done : 
he wisely determined to remove to some picturesque spot, where he 
might sojourn awhile, and at leisure contemplate nature under the 
changes of each season, and attired in all the varieties of her rich 
wardrobe. He selected the beautiful region of the lakes in Cumber- 
land, and took up his quarters in a little town in the very bosom of 
romantic nature. . . . Here he studied for two years, when he returned 
to London with rich stores of lake and mountain scenery, from which 
for several seasons, he enriched the exhibition, added to his own fame, 
and contributed to raise the general reputation of his department of 
art.' It was in 1807 that he thus went to Westmoreland, to reside 
for more than a year in a cottage at Ambleside. 'We remember, 
among these Cumberland views,' continues his old friend and colleague, 
' some which were remarkable for depth and harmony of effect, and 
nearer to reality than the compositions of any of his compeers. 
Indeed, the richness and intensity of colouring in some of his 
happiest works suffered but little in comparison with paintings in 
oil, a consequence that resulted from his continual practice of paint- 
ing his effects on the spot. These drawings, though broad in effect 
and bold in execution, yet were highly wrought, being the result of 
careful study and much labour,' and possessed qualities of richness 
and harmony ' only to be effected by reiterated touching, tinting, 
and glazing.' ' 

Between 1805 and 1812 Havell exhibited 114 drawings at the old 
Society; and at Spring Gardens in 1813-16 he had twenty-two 
works, one or more of which were in oil, making 136 in all. After 
the first year or two, his views in Wales are gradually superseded by 

1 Somerset ffousi Gazette, i. 193. 



296 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 EK. V 

those at the English Lakes ; which, alternating with scenes on the 
Thames, chiefly about Cavcrsham and Henley, and his native town of 
Reading, interspersed with a few rustic figure groups ; form nearly all the 
subjects of his pencil during this period. Some of these treatments 
of home subjects in his early time are perpetuated in A Series oj 
Picturesque Views of the River Thames ' from the Drawings of Williar 
Havell ; Dedicated to the Commissioners of the Thames Navigation, 
by their humble servant Robert Havell.' Published i May, 1812. 
It contains twelve coloured aquatint plates (14 x 20 in.) and a vignette 
of the source, engraved by R. and D. Havell. 

Two or three exhibited studies of sea-boats and fishermen, and 
view of the castle, in 1812-13, tell of a sojourn at Hastings, where 
married sister resided, and where he sketched with David Cox in the 
former of those years. Havell was then, says Cox's biographer, 
' beginning to turn his attention to oils.' ' 

Of his success in that material we have the recorded opinion of 
Uwins, who, in describing to a friend the exhibition of 1815, wrote 
thus of one of his pictures, which, strange to say, was rejected by the 
Directors of the British Institution : ' There is one thing which will 
excite a great bustle among artists and amateurs, it is a most extra- 
ordinary picture of Havell's, in which he has painted sunshine so near to 
truth that it absolutely makes the eyes ache to look at it. The artists 
are all alarmed, and the patrons stand aghast ; but Havell, strong in 
the power of genius, goes on in spite of all the world combined." * 
The picture was, doubtless, one of ' Walnut-gathering at Petersham, 
near Richmond, Surrey,' of which the painter is said to have been 
very proud, considering that it even surpassed the work of Turner. 

During his last five years in England, Havell had been engaged 
in furnishing a series of small landscape designs, drawn for the most 
part in sepia, for the frontispieces and monthly headings of the pages of 
a little annual pocket-book, known as ' Peacock's Polite Repository! 
For a long course of years the execution of the plates for this and 
similar works 3 gave constant employment to the talent of the late 
John Pye, the eminent landscape engraver. A collection of more 
than 1,300 fine proof impressions of plates of this class, exquisitely 

1 Solly's Life of Cox, pp. 25, 26. The writer says that Cox ' used to boast that he painted 
a sunri?e in June, and then awoke his friend by flinging pebbles at his window to show what 
he had done while the other slept.' 

2 Memoir of Uivins, i. 37, 38. 

' There are one or more after Havell in the Royal Repository, published by Suttaby. 



CH. II MEMBERS OF THE OLD SOCIETY 297 

engraved by him or under his direction, was in 1882 presented by 
his daughter to the British Museum, where they may be studied with 
much profit. None among them are more beautiful than those 
designed by William Havell. When that artist left England, after 
supplying the volumes for the years 1813 to 1817, the pencil of 
Reinagle was, as before mentioned, employed for some years, in fact 
until Havell's return in 1829. Often, in these miniature topographical 
prints, Pye, to use his own homely expression when speaking of the 
engraver's task of so translating an inartistic sketch as to make it 
presentable to the eye, had ' to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.' 
But this was not the case with the designs of his ' old friend William 
Havell.' Havell, like Pye, was a devoted admirer of Turner. ' The 
knowledge,' said he, ' which Girtin and Turner had acquired of sun- 
light was so completely developed in their works, that it seemed to 
have been held in hand, and thrown into the subject at pleasure.' 
And sometimes in their joint management of the chiaroscuro of these 
pocket landscapes the two devotees scarcely fall short of the great 
object of their common admiration. 

To this period belong also some contributions by William Havell 
to a set of coloured aquatints engraved by Robert Havell, entitled 
Picturesque Views and characteristic Scenery of British Villas, ' in 
imitation of drawings of views of the principal Palaces, Noblemen's 
Mansions, and Gentlemen's Seats throughout Great Britain ' (Colnaghi 
& Co.). This work was managed by Britton. 1 In Cooke's Picturesque 
Views on the South Coast there is a plate of ' Hastings,' dated 1816, 
after a drawing by Havell now at the South Kensington Museum. 

NICHOLAS POCOCK, though he would not remain a Member in the 
new regime, had sent drawings annually to the mixed exhibition 
until 1817, in which year his address is entered in the catalogue as 
No. 36 St. James's Parade, Bath, instead of the old familiar residence 
in George Street, Hanover Square, where he had remained since he 
there played his part in the creation of the old Society. After the 
last-mentioned date, his name appears no more. 

He had continued to illustrate his countiy's naval annals ; some 
of the drawings of his latest years depicting scenes in the renewed 

1 Elmes's Annals of the Fine Arts (1816). Other artists were employed on the work 
when William Havell went abroad. It then appeared as Picturesqtte Views of Noblemen's and 
Gentleme-fs Seals, 1823, aquatinted by R. Havell and son, wherein five of the plates are 
after W. Havell. 



298 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 UK. v 

sea-struggle with France, .and latterly with the American navy. 
This blood-stained chapter of European history had at length closed. 
And Pocock, in his last year of exhibiting, ends a list of 182 works 
by depicting a calm at Broadstairs, with three other scenes on his 
native shore, in none of which is there an enemy to be seen, save 
' winter and rough weather.' He himself was very soon to leave this 
mortal scene. 

Besides these works, he had exhibited 1 13 at the Royal Academy 
and 25 at the British Institution, making 320 in all. There are two 
of his sea-fights at Hampton Court, and one is at Greenwich Hospital ; 
but these are oil pictures. Many of his marine subjects have been 
engraved ; and he designed the illustrations to Miller's edition of 
Falconer's Shipwreck, 8vo, 1811. These are engraved by Fittler, 
and comprise four full plates and six vignettes. 

Old ' Warwick ' SMITH had been a constant exhibitor since he 
first had courage to come into the field in 1807 ; though it was said 
that, as in Gilpin's case, the competition to which his drawings were 
so exposed had not increased his fame as an artist. In earlier days, 
when they were a novelty, their colouring had astonished the public, 
and fascinated all who saw them. 1 

' But,' writes Nicholson, 2 ' the case was greatly altered on the 
appearance of his works in Brook Street by comparison with others. 
Francia the artist said to me, " These cannot be by the Smith who 
has so high a reputation." I assured him they were by no other. 
It was ill for him when the public expressed the same surprise as 
Francia had done. He could not alter his method of practice, and 
probably thought it beneath him to do so, or go on like others in the 
endeavour to give strength of effect and depth of colour. He stood 
still, and was soon left behind.' Thus we hear little of his works as 
adding to the attractions of the gallery. Nevertheless he had had 142 
there in all, varying in annual number from two to twenty-four. We 
have scarcely any information about him except what may be learnt 
from catalogues. From these we gather that for the first two or three 
years his stock of Italian sketches had afforded him ample material, 
but that, being debarred .during the war time, like our other artists, 
from renewing that stock by further trips abroad, he followed their 

1 Letter from Joseph Farington, R.A., to Colonel Machell, quoted by Nicholson, 
J. J. J. MSS. * J. J. J. MSS. 



CH. II MEMBERS OF THE OLD SOCIETY 299 

example by sketching in his native land. In 1 8 IO, only two out of his 
fourteen drawings are from Italy. North Wales subjects are numerous, 
appearing nearly every year. By 1 8 1 1 he has been in Devon and 
Somerset, painting at Clovelly and about Exmoor. It is evident, 
however, that he took the earliest opportunity to renew his acquaint- 
ance with foreign scenes when the Continent was reopened to travellers. 
In 1814 his views are all again from Italy or from Switzerland and 
France. 1 But they probably had not the freshness and originality of 
the sketches he made while touring as a young man in the last 
century with the Earl of Warwick. After the last-mentioned date, 
his annual exhibits are nearly all foreign views. He was, however, 
getting old and less active, and they drop to an average of five. 

Smith had taken a leading part in the Society's affairs ; had been 
President in 1814, 1817, and 1818 ; Secretary in 1816 ; and Treasurer 
in 1819. He had resided at 7 St. George's Row, Oxford Turnpike, 
till 1814 ; and from 1815 had been at 25 Bryanston Street, Portman 
Square. 

An Exhibitor in 1816, 1819, and 1820, named G. or G. W. Smith, 
also gave the latter address, and sent eleven views in all, chiefly fiom 
France and Switzerland. 

The ways of GEORGE BARRET were so unassuming, and his life 
had been so quietly industrious, that his name has not come before 
us so often or so conspicuously as it deserves. Nevertheless he was 
a representative man among the old water-colour painters. The 
series of unpretending views on the Thames and in the home counties, 
with a few in Wales, which he had exhibited year by' year since the 
founding of the Society, showed that the ' painter's feeling ' within him 
(wherein he declared everything lay) 2 was based on a deep sense of 
the daily beauty of nature, and the restful light that shines with 
impartial ray on homely, as on the most romantic, scenes. He had 
continued, as indeed he did to the end, to wrestle with poverty ; but, 
while working thriftily to support a wife and family, he ever thought 
more of putting gold into his drawings, than of the amount of the 

1 Among them are two views of Elba, the place of Bonaparte's short banishment ; and 
the catalogue for 1814 advertizes as ' in the press,' Tht Journal of a Tour through the Island 
of Elba, by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Bart. Illustrated by a selection of views engraved in 
the line manner, from drawings by John Smith, who resided some time on the Island.' 
(Royal 410, 8 prints, 6x9 inches.) 

! Century of Painters, i. 491. 



300 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

precious metal for which those drawings might be exchanged. He 
had continued to reside in the same suburban quarter (from 1805 to 
1809 at 20 Lisson Green, and then at ' 17 Devonshire Place, 1 near 
Paddington Green ') ; and the subjects of his later exhibited works 
seemed to show that his sketching-ground was narrower than it had 
been. Scenes from Wales become less common, and there is a 
growing tendency to take the effect itself as his motive rather than 
the local subject treated thereunder. The titles ' Morning,' ' Evening," 
' Moonlight,' ' Storm breaking off,' and the like, indicate the approach 
of a period of his art which comprised some of his finest works of 
this kind. But it was not necessary for him to travel far in search of 
effects. It was no doubt his own experience that prompted him, 
when, in a practical work on painting which he published a few years 
before his death, he advised students to watch the sunsets over the 
Paddington Canal from the bridge at Maida Hill. Possibly the two 
drawings in 1820, to which lines from Thomson are appended in 
the catalogue, called ' Evening ' and ' The Harvest Moon,' may both 
have been executed in performance of the conditions of the year's 
premium allotted to him as hereinafter to be mentioned. The 
number of his works in the galleries since 1805 had been 198, the 
average being about a dozen a year. 

Some of JOSHUA CRISTALL'S lines of life still ran parallel to those 
of Barret. Neither could ever do much more than make both ends 
meet by following a class of art in which chaste and somewhat ideal 
sentiment was the pervading motive, however much their works may 
have been admired by cognoscenti. They had been neighbours in 
Paddington, whither the former had come to reside in 1810 or 1811. 
He, too, was married, 2 but had no family. His wife, whose maiden 
name was Cozens, had led a life not devoid of adventure. She was 
partly brought up in France, having in her girlhood exchanged places 

1 Devonshire Place appears to have been at Maida Hill, forming part of the Edgware 
Road, in which Barret's house was numbered 162 in 1831. From 1836 the address took 
the form ' 162 Devonshire Place, Edgeware Road, Paddington.' The numbers are now again 
altered. 

2 Mrs. M'Ketchnie in her MS. supplies the following bit of gossip. She says : ' He had 
several times thought of marrying, and went so far with one lady, a Miss Trotter, who kept 
a school, that he even took apartments in the Strand, furnished them, and then changed his 
mind ! The lady threatened an action ; they compromised ; he gave her the furniture and 
5o/. , which sum he did not then possess. His long-tried friends the Lacklans again helped 
him in this trouble. She afterwards married a doctor and kept her carriage, but did not live 
long to enjoy it.' 



CH. II MEMBERS OF THE OLD SOCIETY 301 

with a young French lady, whom her own family received in England, 
while she went to dwell in that of a French Marquis at the other's 
home. There she was caught in a wave of the Revolution, and thence 
carried off and detained for some time in durance vile ; and on her 
release, she had to make her way home as best she could from the 
then deserted chateau of her yet more unfortunate host. 

Mr. and Mrs. Cristall's marriage took place in the summer of 1812.' 
Cristall had then been residing for about two years at Maida Hill, 
Kdgware Road. Now he removed to the Manor House, Paddington 
Green-, the residence of his wife's aunt, who kept a large school 
there, and by whom Miss Cozens had been brought up, when left an 
orphan in early life. 2 After this date we find for several years so 
many views on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, that one may 
hazard a conjecture that this was one of his favourite resorts. And 
we know he had a good friend and patron there in Mr. James Vine of 
Puckester, a Russian merchant, who possessed many of his drawings. 

The Cristalls are said to have paid a visit to Paris, possibly in 
1814 or 1815 ; but the gallery catalogues contain no evidence of 
travel beyond our artist's native shore. Mrs. M'Ketchnie writes : 
' He went to Scotland about 1815, I think. He had great enjoyment 
in this tour. The Scotch peasantry he found to possess so much of 
the Grecian elegance and costume.' 3 From 1816 his address changes 
to No. 2 (Lower) Lisson Street, New Road, Marylebone ; and there 
he was living and painting and taking pupils in 1820. A few classi- 
cal compositions for their use were, it is said, published by him at 
Lisson Street with the date i8i6. 4 

But the titles in the gallery lists foreshadow a change which was 
shortly to take place in his habits of life. Views on the Wye are 
mingled with those in the Isle of Wight ; and, after sending a single 
portrait in 1816, and another in i8i9,he presents us with no less than 
four in 1820. It was, indeed, neither as a master of landscape, poetic 
as his treatment thereof always was, nor of portraiture, that he stood 

1 The above account is that given to Mr. Jenkins by Miss E. Cristall, 20 May, 1851. It 
mainly agrees with that of Messrs. Redgrave in Century of Painters, i. 511, except that they 
date the marriage a year later. Mr. Tregellas, in the Dictionary of National Biography, 
says that Cristall married ' an accomplished French widow (a Mrs. Cousins), a lady of some 
fortune.' 

2 Century of Painters, \. 511. 

1 There is a sketch in the Scottish National Gallery inscribe;! 'J. C. 1818. Loch 
Katerine.' No. 214. 

1 Dictionary of National Biography. , 



303 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

on his own peculiar ground. It was as a figure painter of pure classic 
taste that he has been introduced to the reader ; and this character 
he had maintained, less perhaps in subjects taken directly from the 
mythology of the Greeks and Romans, than by developing a style of 
treatment of rustic figures in real life, which contrived to elevate 
the subject without an addition of false sentiment, and out of the 
picturesque to evolve the beautiful. Among the 209 works which he 
sent to our gallery between 1805 and 1820, a large proportion are 
single studies of the class last above mentioned, of fisher folk, cottage 
maidens, shepherds and gleaners, and girls at the well. ' Simplicity 
of character,' writes Pyne in 1814, 'united with grandeur of style, 
distinguish these designs.' ' The classic feeling which runs through 
all Cristall's work is well illustrated by the following comparison a 
few years later in a contemporary review : ' Poussin found the sculp- 
ture of the ancients more beautiful and grand than what he could see 
in nature. He therefore in too many instances painted sculptiire. 
Cristall learned to see nature in the same point of view in which the 
ancients contemplated her.' * 

Sometimes a composition of figures, such as the ' Hastings Fish 
Market ' (possibly that now at South Kensington) and ' Boats putting 
off to a Vessel in Distress,' both exhibited in 1808, excited special 
attention. The latter picture seems to be the same that was bought 
by the Duke of Argyll for ioo/., probably that referred to by the 
Messrs. Redgrave as ' A Shipwreck at Hastings,' which they tell us 
was seized for a debt when in the hands of an engraver, poor Cristall 
having afterwards to redeem it at a heavy cost, offending his noble 
patron meanwhile by the delay. 3 The figures in these subjects were 
studied some years before, during a sojourn at Hastings prescribed 
to him for an attack of nervous debility. 4 

Since the first three years. (1805 to 1807) he had not exhibited 
more than half a dozen purely classic subject pieces. They did not 
pay ; and it was doubtless under the incitement of the premium 
before mentioned that he painted the more important work exhibited 

1 Preface to Etchings of Rustic Figures. 2 Magazine of the Fine Arts, i. (1821). 

3 See Century of Painters, i. 510. Dorrell gave Mr. Jenkins the following account of 
this transaction. ' Mr. Cristall,' he said, ' was advised to have the picture engraved on a large 
scale, which advice he adopted, and advanced go/, on the engraver's producing an unfinished 
proof ; but, unfortunately for himself and the public, the plate was never finished, nor could 
Mr. C. ever gain possession of it or get the money refunded." 

Mrs. M'Ketchnie'sMS. 



CH . II MEMBERS OF THE OLD SOCIETY 303 

in 1820, with the title, ' Jupiter nursed in the Isle of Crete by the 
Nymphs and Corybantes.' An outline etched by George Cooke, of 
this composition of fourteen figures, is in the Magazine of the Fine 
Arts(i82i). 1 

One or more of his contributions had been oil pictures, but he was 
not so successful in that material as in water-colours. 2 Pyne, writing 
in 1824, says that 'late in his career' Cristall 'attempted painting in 
oil,' but that, ' to stand up to a great work ' was beyond his ' bodily 
strength,' and he was without the ' mastery over the material and the 
manual execution ' only to be acquired in a long and arduous appren- 
ticeship. 3 

JOHN GLOVER, from the first exhibition of 1805 to the last to 
which he contributed, that of 1817, had sent 290 works to the gal- 
leries, of which number 102 had been in the mixed exhibitions, and 
the remaining 188 in the first water-colour period, 1805 to 1812. His 
prolific brush had never been wanting at the annual shows. But at 
the time when the original Society came to an end he had been rather 
deeply bitten with the desire, which seems to have infected many of 
the water-colour school in these days of its wavering, to achieve suc- 
cess as a painter in oil. It has even been said that the determination 
to admit oil pictures to the gallery at Spring Gardens in 1813 was due 
to Glover's later practice having been chiefly in that material. This 
does not, however, appear to have been the cause of his retirement, 
the circumstances whereof will be related in a future chapter. Nor did 
he attain much mastery over oils, with the difficulties of which, accord- 
ing to Pyne, he was unable successfully to contend ; his pictures 
therein being ' deficient in handling and execution,' however ' happy in 
arrangement and effect.' * ' Glover has tumbled into oil,' said Shee to 
Constable, at the Academy, where there was no very friendly feeling 
towards the draftsman-painter. ' His oil pictures,' says Redgrave, ' are 
less satisfactory than his water-colour, and have not improved with 
age, but appear smooth and painty.' 5 It is as usual impossible, except 
in a few instances, to say which of his contributions to the Spring 
Gardens rooms were in the one or the other medium. Many of his 
pictures do not profess to represent particular scenes. Where they do, 

1 This subject was repeated by him in 1833 and 1847. 

* See Elmes's Annals of the fine Arts (1817). 

1 Somerset House Gazette, i. 195. * Ibid. ii. 82. 

* Dictionary of the English School. 



304 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

the subjects suffice to give some indication of his favourite haunts 
for sketching purposes. Views in the English Lake district arc largely 
present throughout, with scarcely a year's intermission. In 1808, a 
large proportion of subjects from South, and in 1 809 from North Wales, 
point back to foregoing visits to these picturesque resorts, and in 1814 
a similar preponderance of views of Matlock show a recent sojourn 
there. But if so, these were not first visits, for among his drawings at 
the Royal Academy in 1801 and 1803 had been some from all three 
localities. Except a view of Mount Olympus in 1813, doubtless 
from a sketch by some other hand, his subjects are all from Great 
Britain; until 1815, when we find among his eighteen pictures (or 
drawings) a view on the Rhine, which he calls ' Drackenfeldts and 
Gotesberg Castles." 

Whatever may have been its quality, the appearance of this 
exhibit may be considered as marking an epoch in the Society's 
annals. For the year 1815 was an era in the history of our school 
of landscape, as it was in that of the politics of Europe and its alterna- 
tions of war and peace. From that time forth the Continent became 
again an open field of study to our landscape painters ; and, slowly 
at first, though afterwards with rapid increase, this extended liberty 
in the choice of subjects began to show itself in the annual exhibi- 
tions. Gradually, but surely, the influence of these new conditions 
affected the character of their art. This view of Glover's is thus re- 
markable as being apparently the first direct result, in our series of 
exhibitions, of an artist's trip across the Channel after the close of the 
long war, during which our landscape sketchers had been confined to 
home subjects. He had been among the many Englishmen who 
visited Paris during the short cessation of hostilities after the battle 
of Leipzig in 1814 ; and he seems, on the evidence of this picture, to 
have extended his tour on that occasion as far as the Rhine. When 
in Paris, too, he had made the most of his time ; endeavouring, in his 
own way, to profit by the wondrous collection of masterpieces of art 
brought together at the Louvre by the Emperor Bonaparte, which 
had not yet been dispersed. 

Glover painted a large canvas there in the autumn of 1814. It 
was not a copy from any one master, but a composition of the 
eclectic kind. He went about from one picture to another, striving 
to combine in his own work the various excellences of the great 
masters. The result was hung in the biennial exhibition of that 



Cir. II MEMBERS OF THE OLD SOCIETY 305 

year, with the works of the Parisian artists. It measured about 
eight feet by six ; and he called it the Bay of Naples. It is said 
to have been, after all, much of the same class as what he had 
always been in the habit of painting. Stothard, R.A., on being 
told what Glover had done, characterized it as ' charlatanism." But 
King Louis the XVIIIth conceived it worthy of a special mark of 
favour, and ordered a gold medal to be struck for presentation to the 
artist. Before it was finished, however, Bonaparte returned from 
Elba, and Glover had to fly to England, leaving his picture behind. 
When the Emperor revisited the Louvre, he too saw and admired this 
work of our artist's, and being informed of the above circumstances 
he fulfilled the King's intention, by sending both the picture and the 
gold medal to London. The picture was re-exhibited among Glover's 
contributions to the Spring Gardens gallery in his last year, 1817, 
under the name ' Landscape, composition.' ' 

In the mean time Glover had followed up his first continental trip 
by another to Switzerland in 1815, whence come the subjects of six 
of his exhibited views in 1816. He was not successful, however, in 
the gallery that year. ' Glover's expectations,' writes Uwins on the 
I4th of May, ' have certainly been most lamentably disappointed ; he 
is, notwithstanding, in good spirits, and talks of going to Italy, where 
he is to make ; according to his account, 3,000 sketches. I do not 
know why he has chosen to fix the exact number, but so it is.' 2 
He may have gone there, but nothing from the sunny South is to 
be found in the pictures of his next and final season. Why he then 
retired, and what became of him afterwards, will be related in due 
time. 

Although not, as we have seen, devoid of reverence for the old 
masters of landscape, and even willing on occasion to employ his 
hand in copying from their works, John Glover was primarily and 
pre-eminently a student of nature. His knowledge was almost 
entirely derived from his own observation in the field. Thus ' his 
happiest pictures, though very satisfactory as transcripts of the things 

1 Mr. Edward Price, from whose MS. notes the above account is partly derived, states 
therein that he saw the identical picture on sale at a dealer's at Birmingham in or about the year 
1853, and adds : ' The picture is coated with varnish as transparent as glass, and it has some 
very large and unsightly cracks, which go through varnish and picture, and I think the pre- 
paration of the canvas ; and I was told that they were very apparent on the back of the 
picture.' It is also said to have been sold at the auction rooms next to the British Institution, 
apparently at an earlier date. 

Memoir of Uwins, i. 45 

X 



306 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 EK. v 

he intended to present to the eye as they would appear in nature, 
were not what would now be called works of art.' Such, at least, is 
the account given of them, by his pupil Price, to Mr. Jenkins in 
January 1856. 

Glover, moreover, though no practical philosopher in composition, 
such as Varley and the men of his school, was an imitator of general 
effects, rather than special details, seeking more to portray the 
luminous gradation of atmosphere and the leafiness of trees, than to 
express the peculiar character of the scenes and objects which he 
depicted. Relying too much, however, on the same methods of 
working to produce the effects he aimed at, his generalization induces 
the same kind of monotony which is felt to exist in certain line 
engravings, whose exquisite workmanship cannot altogether compen- 
sate for the want either of artistic vigour in the design or of lifelike 
suggestion of the variety and the mystery of detail in a real scene. 
Some of these merits and defects are observed upon in the following 
words (a little transposed) from a contemporary critique on one of his 
exhibitions. ' Few artists have equalled Mr. Glover in the represen- 
tation of still water,' and ' when he has to represent a mist in a 
mountainous scene he is particularly successful.' But ' his trees, in 
general, whether Italian or British, are too similar in growth and 
foliage.' The latter ' is executed in a way that gives the appearance 
of finish, but with the disadvantage of sameness.' * 

Some account of the methods and materials which he employed 
to obtain these results has been preserved for us by observers who 
had the advantage of seeing him at his easel. For he made no secret 
of his work, but (like Girtin) freely permitted his friends to watch 
him, entertaining them while they did so with easy and agreeable 
conversation. When he was sketching in Dovedale, many families 
in the neighbourhood used to come to see him paint. 

' I think,' says his pupil Price, ' that Mr. Glover's method with his 
water-colour drawings was always the same. I think that he invari- 
ably made a finished drawing in Indigo, Indian Red and Indian Ink ; 2 
and then he coloured it. He had a glass of water, and a white plate 
upon which he mixed his tints ; and he worked with a spread camel's- 

1 Magazine of Fine Arts, i. 128 (1821). 

2 The writer adds : ' The Blue that Mr. Glover used has disappeared from many of his 
drawings, from all probably in which he used large portions of Indian Red. I think that the 
Blue has not left the drawings which were principally Blue and Indian Ink.' 



CH. ii MEMBERS OF THE OLD SOCIETY 307 

hair pencil. With this little implement he produced a great number 
of drawings under a great variety of expressive effects, and there 
was a perfection of work which none of his pupils ever attained. 
With these means, and rapid handling, he could express with wonder- 
ful truth a gleam of light upon a wooded hill or passing shade across 
a mountain range, or any transient effect. ... I think Mr. Glover 
always used the common drawing board and the drawing paper 
by Whatman of that description. I imagine that he never used 
either hot-pressed paper or the rough paper. Before he com- 
menced his " neutral tint " he put on the paper a gradation of warm 
colour, beginning at the top with water farthest from the sun and 
increasing the strength to the bottom of the picture, or rather till 
he was below the horizon. He used Yellow Ochre and sometimes 
Light Red. If he had a soft cloudy effect to give, he made the paper 
damp, and while it was in that state he put in the sky. Then, with 
his " neutral tint " of Indigo and Indian Red he put in his distances, 
and nearly finished his work as he came to the foreground, reserving 
washes of this neutral tint to complete his effect. After this he used 
colour. He used very few colours, and those the most simple. Mr. 
Glover rarely used the sponge. Neither had he occasion to practise 
any device to alter his work. He was not liable to mistakes. What- 
ever his head approved, his hand was free to execute. He used to 
remark of an artist friend of whom he thought highly, that " his 
pictures of early morning always ended in moonlights." It was not 
so with Glover, for whatever he attempted he had the power fully to 
express.' ' 

As to his handling and preparation of the brush, we have this 
further testimony from W. H. Pyne : ' Who that had not seen this 
eminent artist. at his easel could have supposed the possibility of 
twisting camel-hair brushes together, spreading them, to the apparent 
destruction of their utility, yet dipping them in jet black Indian ink, 
or grey, or such tints as suited his purpose, and by a rapid and seem- 
ingly adventitious scrambling over the surface of his design, prepare 
the light and elegant forms of the birch or willow, the graceful sweep- 
ings of the branches of trees of larger growth, and the vast masses of 
woods and groves, sparkling in their various foliage, in all the bright- 
ness of a morning sun, or under the influence of the solemn repose of 
evening shade ? Yet his works display these effects with exquisite 

1 J. J. J. MSS. 

X 2 



308 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813 1820 BK v 

feeling, and with a vigour and spirit that no style of art could 
excel. 1 ' 

It will be readily believed that much of his great popularity as a 
teacher was due to these peculiarities of his technique. ' Glover's 
style of execution/ says the same writer, ' was hailed as a mighty 
novelty in art ; it excited more astonishment the more it was seen ; 
it was not one of those nine-day wonders that was followed with the 
blind furor of fashion and then forgot ; it rather excited curiosity and 
a desire of imitation in a thousand admirers. The apparently care- 
less scramblings of black and grey ; the absence of defined forms ; 
the vapourish appearance of the clouds, the mountains, and the 
distances ; the distinct unbroken patches of yellow, orange, green, 
red, brown, &c., which upon close inspection made up the foreground, 
middle-grounds, and off-skip in his compositions, seemed entirely to 
preclude all necessity for the labour of previous study. . . . The 
amateur, enraptured at so happy a discovery . . . set about making 
huge drawings in thC style of Glover.' 2 Thus, as had been the case 
with Gainsborough, Glover's so-called ' style,' effective as it was in his 
own hand, became little more than a trick in the hands of pupils, not 
' to the manner born." In this view he is to be regarded as the 
successor of William Payne. And perhaps Pyne, who was apt to be 
severe on fashionable systems of teaching, was not unjust in calling 
him the originator of a bad taste among dilettanti artists. 3 But it 
would be unfair to call him a charlatan. When he charged his two 
guineas an hour for lessons, he justified the high terms by declaring 
that, although he did not know whether he could teach anything 
worth the money, the sum in question did not exceed the value of his 
time. 

Glover's best works do not often appear in the .market. They 
seem to have been bought, not for profitable resale, but for the 
possessor's enjoyment, and were sometimes destined to hang for ages 
in the houses in which they were painted. He, on occasion, executed 
local views at gentlemen's seats. 4 Pyne regrets, in December 1823, 
that Glover had then ceased to exhibit topographical views of home 
scenery, such as those he sent to the Society's first galleries, in Brock- 
Street and Bond Street. 

i Somerset House Gazette, i. 133. ' Ibid 132-3. ' Ibid. 145 

4 Calke Abbey, Derbyshire (Sir George Carew* Bart.); Randcombe Park, Gloucestershire 

(Sir \Vm. Guise, Bart.) ; Miserdcnc, ditto (Sir Edwin Sandys, Bart.) ; Sudbury Hall (Lord 

Vernon) ; Lambton Hall (Earl of Durham), for example 



Cir. ii MEMBERS OF THE OLD SOCIETY 309 

Among his most admired works were the view of Durham 
Cathedral, in Lambton Hall, for which he received 500 guineas ; and 
the ' Vale of Avoca,' which belonged to the Rev. Alfred Padley, of 
Bulwell Hall, Nottingham. Mr. Price's father gave him 100 guineas 
for a view of Goodrich Castle, and Allport the like sum for an interior 
of the same building. A picture of ' Loch Lomond ' is also spoken of 
as having obtained a large price. The artist had at one time a room 
fitted up with racks all round, in which he placed his works, grouped 
according to price ; one for the fifty-guinea pictures, another for those 
at thirty, and so forth. 

Although it is almost entirely as a painter of landscape that 
Glover is now heard of, his pencil was sometimes employed with skill 
and effect in depicting cattle and other animals. In his earlier years 
he made ' exquisite drawings in water-colours of cattle ; ' and ' the 
effects of early morning,' of which he was so fond, were displayed in 
meadow subjects with cattle and the sun shining through vapour. 
Some of his animal studies were so solid and deceptive as to give rise 
to incredible stories. It was said that his pet starling, being solitary, 
once tried to escape from his room over the back of the cows in one 
of his large pictures ; and that a cattle-man who called with a bull- 
dog had much ado to restrain the animal from an attack on a bull in 
another. These were life-size studies. He would also paint with 
equal care his little friendly birds, or a frog in the dewy grass. 1 He 
etched, too, as above stated, some plates of cattle, which are in the 
spirit of the Dutch masters ; and his very last contributions to the 
Society's gallery were ' A Cow,' and ' Ass and Foal,' respectively 
' modelled from Nature.' Glover's works have not often been engraved. 
His view of Lambton Hall was effectively translated into black and 
white by John Pye in 1816. 

ROBERT HILLS, after taking the active part above recorded in 
the affairs of the old Water-Colour Society, at its foundation, and as 
Secretary throughout the days of its pristine purity, had, since the ill- 
assorted union of 1813, contented himself with merely sending draw- 
ings to the gallery. For the last two years he had been absent 

1 Uwins wrote, however, of the exhibition of 1816 : 'Glover's great big cows have 
entirely failed, notwithstanding the frog, the snail, and the dandelion. There happening to 
be a great many cows on the side of the room on which these are hung, some wicked wit 
said it resembled a Smithtield cattle show, and this opinion has been repeated rather too 
often for the interests of the exhibition.' (Memoir of Uwins, i. 44, 45.) 



3io THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 UK. v 

altogether. He had had 203 works hung between 1805 and 1812, 
and thirty-seven from 1813 to 1818, when, as an outside Exhibitor, 
his annual number was limited by law. With scarcely an excep- 
tion, they are of cattle, sheep, deer (mostly fallow) and a few other 
animals, not unfrequently an ass and foal. Such of the landscape 
backgrounds as are of a specific scene, commonly represent Windsor 
Park and Forest, scenes in the English Lake country ; in 1811 and 
1812, Surrey park and farm scenery about Dorking and Box Hill ; and 
in 1817 and 1818, that around Sevenoaks in Kent. Towards the end 
of the period, the picturesque farmyards of these home counties 
become frequent subjects. A drawing in 1812 of ' A Man perishing in 
a Snow-storm,' with lines from Thomson's ' Winter,' was exceptional, 
but connects itself with later drawings in which he tried to give the 
effect of falling snow. 

He had moved in 1805-6 from George Street to the artist quarter 
north of Oxford Street, where he had remained till 1812 in Newman 
Street, and since then in London Street, Fitzroy Square. 

His industry had not been confined, even in the earlier period, to 
drawing for the gallery, and taking pupils. He had been engaged 
also in completing his set of etchings of animals, which now amounted 
to a vast series, the publication of which extended from 1798 to 1815. 
They comprise studies of deer 151, horses 48, asses and mules 80, 
dogs 55, sheep and goats 108, swine 36, oxen 200, and groups of 
cattle 100. They were executed entirely by his own hand from his 
studies from nature, and are remarkable for the knowledge they exhibit 
of the anatomy as well as of the habits of the various animals. The price 
of the series of 780 ' etchings was 4O/. ' Hills's own collection of these 
etchings, arranged and touched upon by himself, many of them in 
unique states, amounting to the great number of 1,241, may be exa- 
mined in the Print Room of the British Museum, to which establishment 
they were presented by the late Mrs. Garle of Hamilton Terrace.' * 

Like Glover, too, he made some essays in the plastic art. In the 
catalogue of 1815 we find the following rather startling entry : ' 235. 
From the Head of a Stag, modelled by himself;' explained, however, 
by the name which follows, of ' R. Hills ' as the exhibitor. And, in 
1817, he modelled a Red Deer, in terra-cotta, of fine character, repre- 

1 This includes two frontispieces, the designs for which were exhibited in 1806 and 
1808. 

1 J. J. J. MS. 



CH. II MEMBERS OF THE OLD SOCIETY 311 

scnting the animal in vigorous action, at that season when it 'is 
dangerous to approach him. This his friends induced him to execute 
in bronze, but it appears not to have been publicly exhibited until 
many years after. 1 

The subjects of the above-mentioned works give no indication ot 
foreign travel. But at the close of the war Hills was one of the 
artists who took an early opportunity of making a trip across the 
Channel. Within a month of the victory at Waterloo, he traversed 
the great battle-field, ' note-book and sketch-book in hand, recording 
his hurried impressions of what he saw, and tracing the outlines of 
Hougoumont, La Haye Sainte, La Belle Alliance, and many a point 
now famous in history,' 2 when ' the mounds of the slain ' were, he 
wrote, ' but thinly covered with earth," and ' blood-stained fragments 
of all kinds encumbered the ground.' On his return to England, he 
arranged his notes and sketches, and they were published in a quarto 
volume in 1816, entitled Sketches in Flanders and Holland, 'with 
some account of a Tour through parts of those countries, in a series 
of letters to a friend shortly after the Battle of Waterloo.' The work 
is illustrated by thirty-six aquatinted engravings etched by himself, 
and some of them coloured. A reference in the preface to ' a former 
series of letters,' apparently unpublished, ' descriptive of Paris,' shows 
that he also visited that city ; and a drawing by Copley Fielding, 
exhibited in 1816, of 'Dieppe, in Normandy, from a Sketch by 
Ri Hills, Esq.,' gives a further hint as to his route. 

Though Hills had thrown up his Membership in 1812, and had 
for a time ceased to exhibit with the Society, he had not bid his final 
farewell. His last exit was not to be until he left the mortal stage 
also, a quarter of a century after. In 1818 we read of his staying 
with Mr. Fawkes of Farnley and elsewhere in the country, for the 
recovery of his health, and to study deer character. 3 

One more of the foundation Members remains to be dealt with ; 
but he demands a chapter to himself. 

' It was purchased by the late Mr. Thomas Garle, of Hamilton Terrace, in 1841, for 
2OO/. ; and was shown in the British division of Sculpture at the London International Exhi- 
bition of 1802, where its spirit and truthfulness commanded general admiration. See Elmes's 
Annais of the Fine Arts (1818), p. 117. 

* J. J. J. MS. ' Annals of the Fine Arts (1818), p. 528. 



312 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 KK. v 



CHAPTER III 

JOHN VARLEY 

Varly a central figure His pupils Generosity to young artists Nature of his teaching 

Exhibited and engraved works Impecuniosity Enthusiasm Blake and his visions 
Belief in astrology Published writings. 

JOHN VARLEY was, throughout this period, a central figure, not 
only of the Society, but of the school of water-colour painters. We 
have seen that at the birth-time of the former he was living in Broad 
Street, Golden Square, and had for some years past been giving 
lessons to amateurs. In 1813 he moved from No. 15 to No. 5. In 
1814 or 1815 he migrated to 44 Conduit Street, and in 1817 to 10 
(afterwards called io|) Titchfield Street, and there built a 'gallery 
for the display of his works.' ' He also educated students for the 
profession ; and in course of time a goodly company of artists yet to 
be named, and some of great distinction, had profited either by his 
direct tuition, or enjoyed the benefit of his kindly and sometimes 
gratuitous advice. 

His pupils lodged in his house as apprentices, his own family 
circle increasing round him at the same time. Turner of Oxford has 
been mentioned as one of his earliest pupils. In its proper place will 
be described his generous reception of the modest stranger David 
Cox, who came to him very early in the century for lessons ; and it 
has been stated above how freely a little later he gave his help to 
Copley Fielding ; and how even the art of Peter De Wint was bettered 
by Varley's judicious counsel. Among other Members of the Water- 
Colour Society who derived like fatherly benefit from him were William 
Hunt, F. O. Finch, 2 and Samuel Palmer. John Whichelo is also be- 
lieved to have been an early pupil of Varley's, and at a late period of 
the latter's career his influence is said 3 to have rescued from a clerk's 

1 Elmes's Annals of the Fine Arts (1817), p. 551. 

2 An entertaining account of Varley's impulsive and energetic way of maintaining disci- 
pline in liis pupil-room is given in Memorials o/ F. 0. Finch, pp. 20, 21. 

3 Casscll's Celebrities of tlie Century (ii't>/). 



CH. in JOHN VARLEY 313 

desk the distinguished painter W. Holman Hunt, now a Member of 
our Society. Among the more eminent of his pupils were also John 
Linnell and William Mulready, and among the less the landscape 
painter H. B. Zeigler. 

Many are the stories of his generosity to young artists, arising in 
part from the kindliness of his open disposition, and in part from a 
vehement desire to infuse into others the ardent spirit with which he 
pursued his own vocation. One of them has recently been told of a 
well-known northern architect, John Dobson, who came to London 
from Newcastle in 1810 to obtain the best instruction he could get in 
water-colour drawing, before commencing his profession. He went 
to Varley. But ' Varlcy,' writes Dobson's daughter and biographer, 
'declined to be troubled with young pupils, and at first declared that 
he could not spare even half an hour. Observing, however, the intense 
disappointment of the youth, he at last consented to give him lessons 
at five in the morning, his time during the day being fully occupied. 
This concession, made at some inconvenience, marked the recognition 
of a kindred spirit. The master soon perceived the uncommon 
qualities of his pupil, and not only agreed to give him daily instruc- 
tion, but invited him to stay in his house, and would hardly part with 
him when, six weeks later, suitable lodgings were found.' l Master 
and pupil ' worked all day together,' and ' a mutual esteem sprang up 
which continued in after life.' 2 It is said that Varley wished him to 
devote his talent to water-colour painting. Dobson's view of Seaton 
Delaval at the Royal Academy in 1815 has already been mentioned 
as the first coloured drawing exhibited there of a strictly architectural 
subject ; drawings sent there by architects before that time having 
been in Indian ink, without artistic effect. 3 

John Varley despised secrets. He would freely tell what he knew, 
to the mortification of the illiberal, and the profit of most artists of 
his acquaintance. When he met with congenial soil, he liked to 
cultivate it. Discovering a taste for art in a lad employed to clean 
his boots, he took him in hand and made an artist of him. 4 His 
enthusiasm was infectious. At a house where he gave lessons ' not 
only his pupils painted,' say the Messrs. Redgrave, ' but the very 
servants took brush and paper to try their skill at landscape painting. 

1 Memoirs of John Dobson, by M. J. Dobson, 1886. 

2 Ibid. s Supra, p. 9. 
4 Ex rc/atioitc the late C. S. Yarlty, John Varley's last surviving son. 



214 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 HK. v 

Varley knocking at the door on one occasion was delayed a minute 
or two, and on the servant opening it, the painter found that the 
delay had been occasioned by John's being engaged at the moment 
washing in a sky at the hall table ; the work did not please Varley, 
so he stopped on his way to the parlour, seized the brush, and 
immediately began to exemplify the necessary changes in the work 
before him.' ' The lady whom Varley had been engaged to teach on 
this occasion was a Miss Edwards, of Bedford Square ; and to make 
the story more complete, it is believed that the footman whom Varley 
helped, afterwards became a professional artist. 2 

He was very outspoken, and sometimes would give his advice 
when it was not asked ; a dangerous practice, but one not always to 
his disadvantage, as in the following instance : ' Varley,' writes 
Constable, R.A., in a letter, ' has just called on me, and I have bought 
a little drawing of him. He told me how to do landscape, and was so 
kind as to point out all my defects. The price of the drawing was a 
guinea and a half to a gentleman, and a guinea only to an artist ; but 
I insisted upon his taking the larger sum, as he had clearly proved to 
me that I was no artist.' 3 

Varley's benevolence was not restricted to brethren of the brush. 
He could be kind to some whom many artists regard as natural 
enemies. He not only encouraged children when they tried to draw, 
but attracted them with cakes to gambol near him as he sketched 
from nature, and to scramble around for his very loose halfpence. 4 

At the period at which our history has now arrived, Varley's 
terms for teaching amateurs had risen to a guinea an hour. He and 
his wife's brother-in-law Clementi had arranged to start guinea 
lessons at the same time, the one in painting, the other in music. 
Varley's, and it may be dementi's too, were probably worth the 
money. It was remarked that he could not give a lesson without 
some advantage being derived by the pupil ; and he said himself that 
he could teach many parts of his art in a lesson, which it had cost 
him years to learn. For Varley's teaching was not mere instruction 
in methods and processes, and the laying down of rules to imitate 
objects and paint in a set ' style.' It was addressed to the mind. 
If ever an artist painted with brains as well as colour, it was John 
Varley. ' As a preceptor,' says Pyne, ' we know of no one to prefer 

1 Century of Painters, i. 498. 2 Ex relatione C. S. Varley. 

3 Leslie's Life of Constable, p. 211. * See Century oj Painters, i. p. 499, 502. 



CH. ill JOHN VARLEY 315 

to Mr. Varley when he " sets to it doggedly," for no artist perhaps 
has ever studied his department with more abstract reasoning upon 
cause and effect.' { 

Happily we are not left wholly in darkness as to the nature of his 
tuition, and the kind of truths which he inculcated ; for he set down 
the one and exemplified the other in several published writings, 
designed for the use of students out of the reach of his personal 
superintendence. The chief of these, which came out in numbers, is 
in its complete form entitled A Treatise on the Principles of Landscape 
Design, 'with General Observations and Instructions to young Artists. 
Illustrated with sixteen Highly Finished Views. By John Varley. 
Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, Paternoster Row.' The sixteen views 
are engraved in aquatint, 2 and printed in brown ink, two on a plate ; 
and the -eight plates, each with its explanatory letterpress, were 
issued as the serial numbers at ^s. apiece. They bear dates of 
publication from 'February 20, 1816,' to 'May i, 1821 ;' the first 
seven, down to the date 'February ist, 1818,' being published by 
Varley at his successive addresses, the eighth by his old friend J. P. 
Neale at ' Bennett Street, Blackfriars Road.' 

The titles given by the author to the several landscapes (which are 
of course from his own designs) indicate to some extent his classifi- 
cation, such as it is, of the whole subject. They are as follow : 
i. (i & 2), Principles of Light and Shade, ii. Principles of objects 
reflected in water, iii. (E) Epic [Pastoral] ; 3 (F) Pastoral, iv. ((;) 
River Scene ; (H) Ouse Bridge, York. v. (I) Sunshine ; (K) Twilight, 
vi. (L & M) Principles of Skies in Fine or Stormy Weather, vii. (N & 
O) Marine, viii. General Landscape ; Mountainous Landscape. 

This work appears to have been the first attempt to write sys- 
tematically on the theory of ' effect.' The author is not content with 
stating rules of composition, but explains the object of each device ; 
one, it may be, to conduct the eye from point to point ; another, to arrest 
the gaze, or heighten an impression by the sense of contrast. And 
we find in his writing the same happiness in illustration, and ready 

1 Somerset House Gazette, i. 13. 

* They are all engraved by F. C. Lewis, who aquatinted the first plate of Turner's 
Liber Studiorum; except the second, which was by G. Lewis, and the eighth, by J. 
Gleadah. 

' Some of the relations between Varley's classification of Landscape and that of Turner 
were pointed out by the present writer in a little book entitled ' Notes and Memoranda respect- 
ing l/te Liber Sludioi urn of J. M. \V. Turner, R.A.; by the late John Pye; edited by John 
Lewis Kogcl.' bvo. Van Voor.-t, 1879. 



31 J THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 ISK. v 

wit in the perception of analogies, which are said to have characterized 
his verbal instruction, and, indeed, his ordinary conversation. Odd 
and quaint as he often was in his way of expressing himself, and un- 
polished in style, he was always apt, familiar, and original. 

Many of his sayings remained in the memories of his pupils, and 
some have been handed down by tradition. ' Nature,' he would say, 
'wants cooking,' though there was no warmer advocate than he 
of studying the raw material. ' Every picture ought to have a 
look-there,' was his way of saying that the spectator's eye must 
be directed to the point of interest. 1 He had a pretty similitude 
wherewith to point out the value of flat tints, and how the points of 
dark and light tell upon quiet even ground. ' Flat tints,' said he, 
' are like silence, in which you can hear the faintest whisper.' To a 
lady whose drawing was too smooth and timid in its execution, he 
said, wishing to impress her with an idea of dash and vigour, ' Did 
you ever notice a barber sharpen a razor ? That's what it wants, the 
decision and the whacks.' 2 

John Varley had illustrated his own principles by the display of 
no less than 435 works in the Society's galleries from 1805 to 1820, 
during which period he had abstained from exhibiting elsewhere. 3 
But these are unequally divided between the periods of eight years. In 
the first, or water-colour period, he had 330, or an average of about 
41 a year ; in the second 105, or an average of about 13. A large 
proportion of the first must have been small drawings, no doubt often 
executed as pupils' lessons. But among them were probably included 
many of his happiest and most characteristic works. 

It was of his small drawings more particularly that Pyne wrote 
thus : ' There is a classic air pervading his best compositions which 
savours of the boldness of Poussin, united with the elegance of Claude ; 
a happy combination of mountain, wood, lake, and river, that cannot 
fail to delight the eye of taste : the buildings, too, in his designs, are 

1 Century of Painters, i. 498. 

2 J. J. J. ex relatione F. O. Finch. 

3 Varley does not appear to have done much work expressly for the engravers. There is 
a set of six aquatint landscapes (6J x nj in. ), small folio oblong, engraved by F. C. Lewis, 
published Feb. 1806, of the following subjects : ' Near Burford, Oxon,' ' Kirkstall Abbey,' 
' Redcliff Church, Bristol,' ' Llanelted near Dolgelly,' ' Knaresborough Castle,' and ' Near 
Brecknock;' and in Byrne's Britannia Depicta, Part III., is a 'View in Bridge Street, 
Chester,' engraved after him by John Landseer, with the date 24 Jan. 1810. Among F. 
Stevens's etchings of Cottages and Farmhouses are one or more after J. Varley. There are 
also a few small sepia designs by his hand for pocket-book illustrations. 



CH. in JOHN VARLEY 317 

so judiciously placed, whether on a promontory, embosomed in a wood, 
or insulated on a plain, and so aptly formed and well-proportioned, 
that they are never out of place." He further characterizes them as 
' admirable in the arrangements of their parts . . . powerful in effect 
. . . vivid in colour,' and ' intelligent and full of expression.' ' 

It is of drawings of this period that the Messrs. Redgrave give 
the following summary of his way of painting, and just remarks on 
the character of his art : ' Varley's tints are beautifully laid, with a 
full and free pencil, and stippling is not resorted to, to flatten the 
masses ; but he said that he got very fine qualities and suggestions in 
his skies by pumping vigorously upon them ; yet the washing is not 
apparent, the tints of clouds being generally very sharply defined, and 
this is the case also with his foliage, which is massive and large, rather 
than imitative ; he sometimes resorted to taking out the light in his 
foliage with bread, but did not use body colour in his best works. . . . 
Varley's art was based on that of Girtin, rather than of Turner, but 
his study and appreciation of the old masters, Claude and Poussin, 
enabled him to give a classic air to his landscapes that quite removed 
them from any imitation of Girtin's style. Turner's pictures consist 
of multitudinous details properly subordinated to breadth of treat- 
ment ; but Varley's compositions, on the contrary, have few parts : 
the details are passed over, and great breadth and simplicity is the 
result, sometimes it is true with a tendency to vacancy and emptiness, 
and in his works for the dealers often verging on a sort of stereotyped 
conventionalism.' 2 . . . ' When he laid himself out to do his best, and 
when he studied his subjects on the spot, his pictures have qualities 
that we find in no other painters freshness, clearness, largeness of 
manner, and a classical air, even in the most common and matter-of- 
fact subjects." 3 Though no slavish imitator of natural objects, he was 
so minutely truthful as to the general aspects of nature that in his 
representation of distances it was said, 'you might decide the number 
of miles each object was from the foreground.' 4 

Though he constantly made use of the same subjects, and even 
' searched the prints and etchings of the old masters for portions to 
introduce into his compositions,' 5 he never could repeat a work iden- 
tically, but always varied the effect or arrangement, perhaps by adding 

1 Somerset House Gazette, i. 12. ' Century 'of Painters, \. 502. 

* Ibid. 495. * Memoirs ofj. B. Paptvortli (privately printed), p. 28. 

1 Century of Painters, i. 495. 



3i8 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

a new foreground, and sometimes patching his paper and adding 
pieces to the top or sides of a drawing. 1 

Throughout the whole series of exhibitions, Varley had been very 
constant to his Welsh subjects, though he varied them, but in smaller 
numbers, with views in the home counties ; in and about Oxford ; in 
Yorkshire, &c. ; and, from and after the year 1809, in Northumberland. 
In the above cases it may be presumed that he painted from his own 
sketches. A few subjects come from Scotland, the Lakes of Killarney, 
and Devon and Somerset. These, being smaller in number than one 
would expect had he been known to have travelled in the districts 
named, may be conjectured to have been made up at second hand. In 
and about 1814, there were, as above stated, views in Spain and Por- 
tugal, confessedly from sketches made by others on the spot. A view 
of Windsor, exhibited in 1809, was reproduced in a coloured print in 
Ackermann's Repository? Some subjects on the banks of the Thames 
between Battersea and Vauxhall, apparently those exhibited in and 
about 1812, are singled out by the Messrs. Redgrave as displaying 
the best qualities of John Varley's art. 3 Sometimes he made a more 
ambitious effort. There were, in 1814, a ' Curfew,' and ' Thomson's 
Grave, from Collins's Elegy,' 4 each with accompanying verses in the 
catalogue ; and in 1820 another ' Curfew ' sounds, to the same lines as 
the first. To one work in particular, ' The Burial of Saul,' exhibited 
in 1819, special attention had been drawn. But this, it is believed, 
was a large oil painting. It was in illustration of the sublime passage, 
quoted from the first chapter of the Second Book of Samuel, con- 
taining the words, ' How are the mighty fallen ! ' The motive is said 
to have been suggested to the painter on hearing his daughter play 
the Dead March from the oratorio of ' Saul.' The work was engraved 
by Linnell, who is understood to have painted the figures on the left 
of the picture. 

If, with all his prolific power and industry, the patronage he 
enjoyed, and the high contemporary estimate of the merit of his 
work, John Varley failed as he did to realize a competency by his 
exertions, this failure must be set down partly to domestic circum- 
stances beyond the fact of his having eight children to support, and 
partly to a certain hopeless inability on his own part to remain solvent. 

1 J. J. J. ex relatione Mrs. Varley. 2 ix. p. 28. . 

3 Century of Painters, i. 495. 

4 This subject is repeated in 1823, with a much longer quotation. 



CH. ill JOHN VARLEY 319 

lie used to say himself that whatever money was put into his pocket 
was sure to run out at the bottom. The latter defect arose in some 
measure from the careless generosity of his disposition, and it appears 
to have been aided as a source of extravagance by the habits of his 
first wife, 1 and the conduct of a sometime son-in-law. For himself, 
he lived from hand to mouth, never put by a farthing, and indeed was 
always in difficulties. But he declared that his home troubles, ' which 
would have worried any other man into his grave, were beneficial to 
him, as just preventing him from being too happy.' 2 On Linnell's 
asking him, one day, how he was getting on, he answered, ' Much 
better, much better ; there are only four men, I think, now, who 
could put in executions.' 3 A friend met him one day racing along 
at great speed, somewhere near Cavendish Square, and would have 
stopped him, but Varley pushed by, saying, ' I am in great haste, I 
cannot stop now. I have found a man who only takes 35 per cent.' 4 
. The Messrs. Redgrave relate that ' Varley had an original way of 
getting paid by rich but forgetful debtors a way he used to say which 
saved the unpleasantness of law. ' I send in a new bill,' said the 
painter, ' making a mistake in the amount of a guinea or two against 
myself, and the money comes in directly.' 5 

It was not only in matters of art, but in everything which he 
undertook, that Varley showed the enthusiasm of his nature. What- 
ever irons he had in the fire, he heated them hot. For a long time he 
busied himself in the attempt to produce perpetual motion ; but at 
last he allowed his brother Cornelius to convince him that the thing 
was impossible. And so he was content to take out a patent for a 
carriage with six wheels. But he could not regulate the wheel of 
Fortune, and lost his money. 

A strong passion for the marvellous, 6 which induced him to culti- 
vate his credulity, led to the acquaintanceship which he formed with 
the great visionary, William Blake. To John Varley 's simple and en- 
thusiastic nature the spiritualism of Blake afforded a special fascina- 
tion. He was some twenty years older than Varley, and approaching 
sixty years of age when the friendship was first cemented. They 

1 Gilchrist's Life of Blake, \. 296. 2 Century of Painters, i. 500. 

3 J. J. J. ex relatione Finch. J. J. J. ex rclatione Leitch. 

5 Century of Painters, \. 500. 

" Gilchrist describes his intense disappointment on one occasion, on learning that certain 
ghostly noises next door were only due to the cowl of a chimney. (Life of Blake.) 



320 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813 1820 BK. v 

came together through Linnell, and from about 1818 had been con- 
stant companions. 1 During the two succeeding years, it was Varley's 
delight to assist at this weird artist's visions, and encourage him to 
produce in graphic form the figments of his brain. Blake was then 
living in South Molton Street. It was at Varley's house in Titch- 
field Street as a studio, that in midnight hours he received his 
ghostly sitters. ' Historical, fabulous, even typical personages,' seen 
in the mind's eye of Varley's strange guest, were believed by the 
simple and credulous host to have been personally present in the 
dingy artists' quarters about Fitzroy Square. 

Gilchrist gives the following account of these extraordinary 
stances. Blake's ' visionary faculty was so much under control, that 
at the wish of a friend he could summon before his abstracted gaze 
any of the familiar forms and faces he was asked for. This was during 
the favourable and befitting hours of the night, from nine or ten in the 
evening, until one or two, or perhaps three or four o'clock in the 
morning ; Varley sitting by, sometimes slumbering, sometimes 
waking! Varley would say, "Draw me Moses," or David ; or would 
call for a likeness of Julius Caesar, or Cassibellaunus, or Edward the 
Third, or some other great historical personage. Blake would 
answer, " There he is ! " and paper and pencil being at hand, he would 
begin drawing with the utmost alacrity and composure, looking up 
from time to time as though he- had a real sitter before him ; in- 
genuous Varley, meanwhile, straining wistful eyes into vacancy and 
seeing nothing, though he tried hard, and at first expected his faith 
and patience to be rewarded by a genuine apparition. A " vision " 
had a very different signification with Blake to that it had in literal 
Varley's mind. . . . Critical friends would trace in all these heads the 
Blake mind and hand, his receipt for a face. .... John Varley, how- 
ever, could not be persuaded to look at them from this merely 
rationalistic point of view.' He ' accepted all Blake said of them, 
added in writing the names, and in a few instances the day and hour 
when they were seen.' 2 

Shortly after Blake's death, which occurred in 1827, Varley pub- 
lished the following particulars of one of the strangest of these fancies, 
called ' The Ghost of a Flea,' with an engraving of the portrait 

1 Allan Cunningham's account of Blake in his Lives of the Painters is said to have been 
mainly derived from information furnished by Varley. 

2 Life of Blake, pp. 251, 252. 



CH. in JOHN VARLEY 321 

referred to. ' This spirit visited his ' (Blake's) ' imagination in such a 
figure as he never anticipated in an insect. As I was anxious to 
make the most correct investigation in my power, of the truth of these 
visions, on hearing of this spiritual apparition of a Flea, I asked him 
if he could draw for me the resemblance of what he saw : he instantly 
said, " I see him now before me." I therefore gave him paper and a 
pencil, with which he drew the portrait. I felt convinced by his 
mode of proceeding, that he had a real image before him, for he left 
off, and began on another part of the paper, to make a separate draw- 
ing of the mouth of the Flea, which the spirit having opened, he was 
prevented from proceeding with the first sketch until he had closed 
it During the time occupied in completing the drawing, the Flea 
told him that all fleas were inhabited by the souls of such men as 
were by nature bloodthirsty to excess, and were therefore providen- 
tially confined to the size and form of insects ; otherwise were he 
himself for instance the size of a horse, he would depopulate a great 
portion of the country. He added, that if in attempting to leap from 
one island to another, he should fall into the sea, he could swim, and 
should not be lost. This spirit afterwards appeared to Blake, and 
afforded him a view of his whole figure.' ' The existence of this 
supposed creature, Varley actually treats as a fact, to reason from 
inductively, in support of the science of astrology. But human 
credulity knows no bounds. Nearly all of these visionary heads 
mostly dated 1820, became the property of Linnell, who made 
coloured copies of three of them for Varley. 2 

Blake, Linnell, and John Varley, writes Gilchrist, 3 were ' a curi- 
ously contrasted trio, as an eye-witness reports, to look upon in ani- 
mated converse : Blake, with his quiet manner, his fine head broad 
above, small below ; Varley 's the reverse : Varley, stout and heavy, 
yet active, and in exuberant spirits ingenious, diffuse, poetical, eager, 
talking as fast as possible ; Linnell, original, brilliant, with strongly 
marked character, and filial manner towards Blake, assuming nothing 
of the patron, forbearing to contradict his stories of his visions, &c., 
but trying to make reason out of them. Varley found them expli- 
cable astrologically " Sagittarius crossing Taurus " and the like ; 

1 A Treatise on Zodiacal Physiognomy. 

2 Gilchrist 's Life of Blake, pp. 253, 256. 

* Ibid. 295, 296. This refers to a rather laterperiod ; after Linnell had, in March 1824, 
taken up his residence at Collins's Farm, Hampstead, between North End and the Spaniards, 
where IMake and John Varley often met, and sometimes Cornelius Varley also, and Kichter. 

Y 



322 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 EK. v 

while Blake, on his part, believed in his friend's astrology, to a 
certain extent. He thought you could oppose and conquer the 
stars.' 

The last reference touches upon another and a more lasting 
phase of Varley's superstition, namely, his firm belief in ' the vain 
science of astrology,' ' the pursuit of which he carried to a fanatical 
length. Many were the stories told of his practice in casting 
nativities, and predicting future events. It has even been alleged 
that he made a profit of his supposed skill as an astrologer, and took 
regular fees for telling fortunes. 2 That, however, was not the case. 
On the contrary, he is known to have returned a 5/. note which some 
one sent him in acknowledgment of a favour of this kind. Yet there 
is no reason to doubt the correctness of Messrs. Redgrave's state- 
ment as to his being ' shrewd enough to see, 1 and ' candid enough to 
own, that his astrology was one of the causes of his popularity as a 
drawing master. " Ladies come to take drawing lessons," said he, 
" that they may get their nativities cast." ' 3 Varley rarely was intro- 
duced to anyone without in a short time asking him for the day and 
hour of his birth. His pockets were always crammed with old 
almanacks to refer to for the sign of the Zodiac rising upon the 
horizon at the time. 4 His theory was that the 'house' (as it was 
called) influenced the life, and that even a personal likeness could be 
traced to the sign. And this he afterwards made the principal theme 
of the extraordinary book above quoted, whereof he published but 
one out of four projected parts. The full title is 'A Treatise on 
Zodiacal Physiognomy, illustrated with engravings of heads and 
features ; accompanied by tables of rising of the 12 signs of the Zodiac ; 
and containing also new and astrological explanations of some 
remarkable portions of ancient mythological history. By John Varley. 

London. Printed for the author, loj Titchfield Street; and sold 

by Longman & Co., Paternoster Row. 1828. Price Five shillings.' 
This rare and curious book contains sixty-four octavo pages of letter- 
press, and five plates, four at least of which were engraved by Linnell. 
Some of them are filled with outline heads of Varley's friends sup- 
posed to exemplify the author's theory, and among them is the 

1 John Dryden also was ' a believer and a student of the vain science of astrology.' (Sir 
W. Scott's Notes to ' The Wild Gallant.''} 

- See Gilchrist's Life of Blake, \. 240; MenwirofJ.B. raftvor/li, p. 28. 

' Century of Painters, i. 5C~ 4 J. J. J. ex relations Ward. 



CH. in JOHN VARLEY 323 

' Ghost of a Flea from Blake's Vision ' above mentioned. The whole 
figure is promised in a forthcoming part. The portraits, with others 
not engraved, were taken by Varley by means of a camera lucida. 
Varley considered this science of ' Zodiacal Physiognomy ' as a 
'branch of natural philosophy,' distinct from 'Judicial Astrology,' 
which deals in prediction. It is in relation to his practice in the 
latter branch that the following anecdotes are related. Some of them 
are said to be authentic, but for the truth of others it would perhaps 
be hazardous to vouch. 

' Calling one day on a well-known picture dealer, he sought to 
dispose of some of his drawings, which he had brought in a portfolio. 
The dealer declined, but only to be again and again urged ; at length 
Varley exclaimed : " I shall sell before I leave the house," mentioning 
as the ground for his assertion some particular relation which existed 
between the planet under which he was born, and another of the 
celestial luminaries. The dealer invited him to tea, still refusing to 
purchase ; but as Varley was on the point of leaving the house, a 
friend of the dealer's came in, and on being introduced to the artist, 
then and there bought his pictures. " Ah ! " said Varley, " I told 
you I should sell before I left your house." ' ' Sceptics might 
answer that he was determined not to quit the premises till he 
did sell. 

It was said that the death of Collins, R.A., came, to the day, as 
the stars had told Varley that it would, and that ' Scriven the engraver 
was wont to declare that certain facts, which could be only known to 
himself, were nevertheless confided to his ear by Varley with every 
particular.' Then ' he cast the nativities of James Ward the famous 
animal painter's children. So many of his predictions came true, 
their father, a man of strong though peculiar religious opinions for 
he, too, was a "character" began to think the whole affair a sinful 
forestalling of God's will, and destroyed the nativities.' a 

A reference to dates was found by the Messrs. Redgrave not 
quite to bear out an oft-told tale of the fulfilment of Varley 's sealed 
prediction, confided to Mulready, and only divulged on Callcott's 
wedding-day, that the bridegroom was to remain single until he was 
fifty ; for the event of his marriage occurred on his forty-eighth 
birthday. Varley had also prophesied that Callcott would go to 

1 Burlington Fine Arts Club Catalogue, 1871. 
* Gilchrist's Life of Blake, pp. 249-256. 

V 2 



324 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

Italy, and so he certainly did three months after he had been told 
that the Fates required it. 1 

It has already been mentioned how Varley considered his being 
tossed by Taurus in early life as a predestined event. On a later 
occasion, Aquarius seems to have been his persecutor : warned of 
danger from water, he remained at home all day, arid then fell over a 
pail and hurt his leg.' 2 On another, as will have to be related in due 
place, it was the element of fire that was set against him by the Fates. 
Records of predictions that come true are more durable than those of 
failures. But there is still some evidence that Varley's were not 
always right. The Rev. William Harness used to declare that in his 
case they were entirely wrong ; and the Duke of Sussex, P.R.S., 
laughed at his astrology ; asking him whether the position of the 
stars would account for some corns with which his Royal Highness 
had lately been troubled. 3 

Besides his more important work, the ' Treatise on Landscape 
Design,' Varley also published the following works on the practice of 
Art: 'A Practical Treatise on the Art of Drawing in Perspective, 
adapted for the study of those who draw from nature ; by which the 
usual errors may be avoided. By John Varley. London : Printed for 
Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, Paternoster Row, and Ackermann and 
Co., Strand.' The book, or pamphlet, or whatever it may be called, 
which is in quarto size, and bears this title, is in fact a collection of four 
folio broad-sheets of letterpress, accompanying two plates of diagrams 
of the same size, engraved by W. Lowry, pi. i. bearing in the imprint 
the date of publication I Dec. 1815, and Varley's address in Conduit 
Street, and pi. ii. the date i Sep. 1820, with the name of ' J. P. Neale,' 
Varley's early friend and fellow-sketcher, and his address ' Bennett 
Street, Blackfriars Road.' ' Precepts of Landscape Drawing; exempli- 
fied in 15 Views; with Instructions to young Artists. By John 
Varley.' This consists merely of two folio plates, folded in quarto, 
one engraved by J. C. Lewis, the other by Josh. Gleadah ; the first 
comprising nine and the second six pretty little aquatint views, with 
a note to each pointing out some plain principle or device involved in 
the composition. PI. i. has the date i Jan. 1818, and pi. ii. 22 Dec 

1 See Redgrave's Century of Painters, ii. 401, 402. 

2 Century of Painters, i. 501. A similar story of another man so warned by Varley, 
spraining his ankle over a coal-scuttle after lying abed all day to avoid accidents, is told by 
GiHirist. (See Life of Blake, p. 249.) 

Ex relatioiie C. S. Varley. 



CH. in JOHN VARLEY 325 

1818, with Varley's then address in Titchfield Street (the number 
being changed in the interval from 10 to 10^). Varley's List of 
Colours, otherwise described as ' Specimens of 19 Permanent Colours, 
with particular instructions for mixing and using them.' This is 
likewise a broad sheet of the same size, folded ; with the several 
colours painted by hand in oblong spaces under one another. The 
quality of permanence would certainly be denied to some of them in 
the present day. It is not known when this sheet was first published. 
It is believed to have been reissued many times, 1 and much used by 
Varley's pupils. Allibone 2 mentions Studies for Drawing Trees, 4to, 
by J. Varley. 

There is yet another book, entitled ' Observations on Colouring 
and Sketching from Nature,' which has been, erroneously, attributed 
to John Varley, both by the Messrs. Redgrave and by Mr. Gilchrist ; 3 
and it is possible that the mistake may have led to some depreciatory 
remarks by the latter on Varley's writings, which they do not deserve. 

1 A copy dated ' 1850,' which was eight years after Varley's death, has the address 
' 3 Elkin's Row, Bayswater,' to which he went in 1830 or 1831. But it was probably drawn 
up many years before. 

2 Dictionary of Authors. 

* See Century of Painters, i. 502; Dictionary of the English School ; and Life of Blake, 
i. 296. The book in question is an octavo volume, of which a ' new and enlarged edition,' 
published in 1820 by W. Mason at Chichester, bears upon its title the author's name, 
' William Varley.' It is rather a commonplace production, and may have been written by 
John's less distinguished artist-brother, William F. Varley before mentioned. The author 
speaks of his ' pupils ' as having patronized the first edition. Another is dated 1830. 



326 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 UK. v 



CHAPTER IV 

LANDSCAPE; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 

Biographies continued to 1820 Former exhibitors Stevens De Wint Turner Copley 
Fielding Scott New landscape painters Their biographies David Cox Charles 
Barber Samuel ProutG. F. RobsonH. C. Allport William Walker Mist 
Gouldsmitk. 

ALTHOUGH the figure element had acquired more strength since the 
admission of oil pictures, the landscape painters still maintained 
their lead in the exhibitions at Spring Gardens ; and the school 
founded by the veterans, whose lives have been the subject of the 
foregoing chapters, was being recruited by a younger generation of 
artists. Some of these had already obtained a footing in the old 
Society, while others had brought new blood to the resuscitated body. 
Both classes have now to be dealt with, in connexion with one or 
two artists who still belonged more exclusively to the ancestral age. 

In the last waning group is FRANCIS STEVENS, who, it will be 
remembered, was one of the first body of Associates elected in 
December 1805 and became a Member of the old Society in May 
1809. Wortley in Yorkshire had been, and continued to be, a place 
from which he took many of his rustic scenes; but in 1810 he 
mingles these with views near Norwich. In that year he had become 
a member of the Norwich Society of Artists. In the next he was 
living at Bromley in Kent. He was not one of the resuscitated body 
at Spring Gardens in 1813, but exhibited a few drawings as an 'out- 
sider' in 1816 and 1819. In the former year he gives his address 
' Military College, Sandhurst,' whence it may be inferred that he was 
employed in tuition there. In the latter, he is at ' New Buildings, 
Exeter.' During the past period he had etched a series of fifty-three 
or fifty-four picturesque Views of Cottages and Farmhouses in Eng- 
land and Wales, after drawings by his master, Munn, and by Varley, 
Hills, Pugin, Prout, and others, which were published in quarto by 



CH. iv LANDSCAPE; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 327 

Ackermann. There are editions dated 1808 and 1815. He has 
already been spoken of as one of the founders of the Sketching 
Society, in connexion with John and Alfred Chalon. A pencil 
portrait of him was sold at Christie's on 15 July, 1875, among the 
effects of Cornelius Varley, deceased. 

PETER DE WiNT had contributed to the strength of the exhibi- 
tions much more by the quality than the quantity of his works. His 
term of Membership had lasted but a year ; and when the break 
occurred in 1812-13 he fell into the class of 'Exhibitors,' and there- 
after sent no more than twenty-three drawings (or paintings) to 
Spring Gardens, his name being as often absent from as present in 
the catalogue. 'A Cricket Match,' exhibited in 1815, maybe the fine 
drawing at South Kensington, presented to the Museum by Mr. 
Ellison in 1860. During this period the De Wints continued to 
reside in Percy Street, Rathbone Place, where the painter earned a 
sufficient maintenance for their moderate needs, by giving lessons as 
well as selling his works to private purchasers. He also began to 
draw for the publishers. In W. B. Cooke's Picturesque Delineation of 
the Southern Coast of England, celebrated chiefly for its prints after 
Turner, the first number of which was issued in 1814, there are six 
illustrations by De Wint. Two of them, views in the Isle of Wight 
(' Undercliff/ dated I June, 1814, and ' Blackgang Chine,' dated 
i April, 1816), are prints of the full size, the remainder (' Bognor," 
' Beach at Ventnor,' ' West Cowes Castle,' and ' Loggan Stone ') being 
smaller ones inserted in the text. A view of ' Greenwich ' exhibited 
in 1818 was drawn, the catalogue informs us, 'for Cooke's work of 
" Thames Scenery." ' Probably it was ' The Thames from Green- 
wich Park (from a drawing in the possession of the Duke of 
Argyll),' engraved with date I June, 1822, in W. B. Cooke's The 
Thames, to which work, in its complete state, 1 De Wint contributed 
a dozen or more plates and vignettes, with dates from i May, 1814, 
to i Jan. 1829. But De Wint's day of fullest success was yet to 
come, when, a few years afterwards, he rejoined the Society as a 
Member. 

Varley 's pupil, WILLIAM TURNER, had remained a 'country 
Member,' living at or near^Oxford, and from 1811 to 1815 giving 

1 In the first edition, 1811, the plates are all after S. Owen. 



328 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 I;K. v 

Varley's address as his place of business in town. He had had 
eighty-eight works in the gallery during his twelve years' connexion 
with the Society (eleven of them as a Member) ; and had been true 
to his native subjects, confining himself at first to views in his own 
and adjacent counties, and then wandering a little into Wales and 
round by the Lake country into Derbyshire. The affixes ' Evening,' 
' Early Morning,' ' Twilight,' ' Showery Weather,' and so forth, to the 
titles of his drawings, indicate his watchful eye for atmospheric 
effects, and the choice of subjects often accords with his love of 
wider prospects favourable to the treatment of sky as the main 
motive of a picture. 

When COPLEY FIELDING was made a Member of the new 
Society in 1812, and was thus no longer limited as to the number of 
his annual exhibits, he at once took the place of his good friend and 
instructor Varley, as the most prolific contributor to the gallery. 
From 1813 to 1820 Fielding acknowledges as his production the 
contents of 263 frames ; and, as many of these contained from two 
to six separate subjects, his total number of drawings (or paintings) 
shown in these eight years was no less than 327 ; thus falling short 
by only three of Varley's total in the preceding eight years, from 
1805 to 1 8 12, and making an average of more than forty works a 
year. Varley, as we have said, had dropped to about thirteen per 
annum in the mixed exhibitions. 

It was evident that Fielding had entered heart and soul into his 
profession. He had, moreover, settled himself in life by a happy 
marriage, in December 1813, with Mrs. John Varley's sister, Miss 
Susannah Gisbourne, a lady whose high principles, pious feeling, and 
sound judgment, with which were united a refined taste and some 
literary acquirements, enabled her to become a main support to her 
husband during the rest of his life. 

There is a solitary drawing, the title of which, ' Pegwell Bay, 
Kent,' looks strangely out of place in the catalogue, at the head of a 
long list of Welsh and North-country views. It was doubtless a 
result of a visit paid in the previous year, 1812, via Canterbury to 
Ramsgate, where the Gisbourne family resided. Except that trip, he 
had that year confined his sketching to the neighbourhood of London. 
In 1813, however, he had also increased his stock of subjects by visits 
to Durham, Raby Castle, and Greta Bridge ; whence came some 



CH. iv LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 329 

views exhibited in 1814, among th'em a set of six illustrations to 
Scott's poem of Rokeby. This tour was continued to Ambleside, up 
Wcardale, to Aldstone Moor, and home by Newcastle. In November 
1813 he was elected Treasurer for the ensuing year, 1814, when he 
again remained in London, and sketched on the Thames, having 
taken a house in the artist quarter, No. 15 Grafton Street, Fitzroy 
Square. For 1815, he was the Society's Secretary, and in that year 
he went again to draw from nature in North Wales. In 1816 he 
attacked the scenery of the Wye ; and some views of Goodrich 
Castle appear among his gallery works in the year 1817. 

Hitherto his drawings had been almost exclusively from North 
Wales ' and the Lake District, the chief exceptions being those just 
mentioned, a few views, in 1816-17, for Havell's coloured aquatints of 
Gentlemen's Seats, and, rarely, a professed classical composition. 2 
But an addition to his range of subjects was ere long to be forced 
upon him by domestic circumstances. He had now two daughters, 
the elder having been born in 1814. After the birth of the second, 
Mrs. Fielding, being very ill, had to be taken to Brighton in 1816; 
and the next year the doctors decreed that, for the health of the 
elder child, a permanent residence at the seaside was necessary. So 
the wife went to live at Sandgate, and as much time as the husband 
could spare from his professional engagements in London, he passed 
on the coast near her. 

Up to his eighteenth year Copley Fielding had never seen the sea, 
his first cry of QaXacrcra ! having been uttered on beholding it from a 
height near Ulverston, in our own annus mirabilis 1805. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that it took some further years of study, and of 
watching the waves in their endless variety, to develop the power and 
quality in marine painting which he afterwards displayed. Nor do 
we come yet to the misty chalk-down subjects whereby also he was 
so well known in his later time. In 1819 and 1820 he exhibited 
many views on the south coast of Kent, from Dover to Romney 
Marsh, along with his usual Welsh subjects. 

The Associate WILLIAM SCOTT, of Brighton, sent forty drawings 

1 A coloured aquatint of ' St. Asaph,' dated I May, 1820, engraved by T. Fielding after 
C. V. Fielding, is in the Northern Cambrian Mountains, folio, 1820, pi. 37. 

1 There are : ' Inachus discovering his Daughter lo '(Ovid), 1814 ; '/Eneas on his Approach 
to the Entrance of the Infernal Regions' (/Eneid, book vi.), 1816 ; ' Scene from Ariosto ' 
(flrlanJo Furioso, book i. ), 1817. 



330 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

as ' Exhibitor ' at the Oil and Water Colour gallery, chiefly views of 
cottages &c. in Sussex ; being absent once only, in 1817. 

To the above artists, all of whom had belonged to the old Society, 
there were added in the oil and water colour exhibitions a further 
and virtually new group, who contributed worthily to the mainte- 
nance of the school of landscape. First and (measured by his 
subsequent services) foremost among these was DAVID Cox, who, as 
above stated, had been elected an Associate of the old Society a few 
months before it was dissolved, and took his place as a Member of 
the new, at its first formation. 

He was then twenty-nine ; about a year younger than Havell, 
five than John Varley, and eight than Turner was, and Girtin would 
have been had he been still alive. He had lived in or near London 
for the last eight years, during which, with no powerful connexions 
to aid him, he had, by perseverance and talent, succeeded in esta- 
blishing a good position as a water-colour draftsman and a teacher of 
landscape. It was in the very birth-year, 1804, of the old Society, 
that young Cox, having just attained his majority, came to try his 
fortune in the metropolis, attracted partly by what proved a delusive 
hope, of getting some scenery to paint at Astley's circus ; for this 
was a branch of art in which he had already shown capacity in the 
theatre of his native town, having been carried into the scene-loft by 
the following chances. 

David Cox was born in Heath Mill Lane, Deritend, a suburb of 
Birmingham, on the 29th of April, 1783, where his father, Joseph 
Cox, was a worker in iron, a maker among other things of gun- 
barrels and bayonets. To his mother, a woman of sense and religious 
feeling, and some education, David Cox was indebted for an early 
training in uprightness to which he was wont to attribute much of his 
success in after life. Her maiden name was Frances Walford. She 
was daughter of a farmer and miller of the same town. David was 
the younger of the two children of his parents' marriage ; the elder 
being a daughter, Mary Ann, who became the wife of Mr. Ward, a 
teacher of music at Manchester. 

There are no stories to relate respecting him, of infantine rapture 
among green fields, or of a child's attempts to sketch from nature. 
When a little boy, he went to an elementary day school ; when 
bigger, to the free school in Birmingham. Probably he wandered 



CH. IV LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 331 

when he could, and enjoyed the healthy verdure of the midland 
scenery, within reach of home. A curious record, if genuine, of his 
schoolboy presence at one picturesque spot in his native county, is 
mentioned by Mr. Jenkins, who has left a memorandum, in the 
following words, among his papers : 'In the summer of 1852, I saw 
on the outer wall of Guy's Cliff Mill, Warwickshire, apparently cut 
with a knife, the name of " David Cox, 1795." As Cox was born in 
1783, he could only have been about twelve years old when he cut 
his name on the stone, supposing it was cut by himself at the time. 1 ' 
Among Mr. Jenkins's papers there is also a pencil note, written, 
and given to him at a meeting of the Graphic Society, 10 January, 
1866, by John Pye, the engraver, who was a fellow-townsman of our 
artist's and nearly of the same age, in these words : ' When I first knew 
David Cox he was employed to wield the great hammer at a black- 
smith's shop in Windmill Yard, Digbath, Birmingham.' 2 It was in 
fact intended that he should follow his father's business ; but, stout 
and hearty as he grew to be in after years, Cox had not as a boy the 
physique for a young Cyclops. And a fortunate accident befell him, 
which turned his. course of life into a different channel. One night 
he caught his foot on the scraper at a door, and, falling, broke his leg. 
During the enforced confinement which ensued, he had some prints 
to amuse him. These he took to copying with pen or pencil. Then 
a cousin of his, whose name was Allport, gave him a box of paints, 
and he began to dabble in colour. Some of his little drawings found 
buyers ; and, showing thus a natural proclivity, he was sent to a 
drawing school, then kept in the town by Joseph Barber, a well- 
known and competent teacher, where Pye was also a pupil. As he 
made good progress there, he was apprenticed in 1798 to one 
Fieldler, in what was called the ' toy trade,' his employment being to 
paint in miniature upon lockets, snuff-boxes, and the like. In Mr. 
Solly's Life of David Cox there is a photograph of a locket adorned 
by him with a boy's head, which shows that at the age of sixteen he had 
acquired considerable proficiency in the art But his term of appren- 
ticeship being abruptly closed by his master's suicide, he, in 1800, got 

1 This was not the only instance recorded of the painter's leaving his mark thus. Mr. 
Solly in his Life of JJavid Cox, p. 1 1, relates that he cut his name with the date 1804 on one 
of the old staircases at Kenilworth Castle, which is not very far from Guy's Cliff. 

2 Cox has been heard to relate that when a very young man strolling in the country it 
was his habit to pick up any cast horseshoe lying in his way, and see whether it bore his 
father's private mark. (x relations A. D. Fripp. ) 



332 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

an engagement at the theatre, helped thereto by the same cousin 
Allport who had given him his box of paints. Here he ground 
colours for the scene-painters, and loved to watch at his work their 
chief, De Maria, of whom he would afterwards speak as being an 
artist of considerable talent. In the evenings he again attended the 
drawing class of Joseph Barber. 

When it came to be known in the theatre how Cox had been 
previously employed, he was allowed to try his hand upon some of 
the side scenes, particularly one in which figures had to be introduced ; 
and one day a lucky chance of distinction presented itself. De Maria 
being absent, the manager was at his wits' end for a picture of the 
leading actress, in a piece whereof the plot (as in ' Masks and Faces ') 
turned on an exhibition of the heroine's (i.e. the leading actress's) 
portrait. The young colour-grinder came to the rescue, painted Miss 
Decamp's likeness with complete success, and not only saved the 
piece, and was complimented by De Maria, but so won the manager's 
favour, that he engaged him as his scene-painter, when shortly after- 
wards the post came to be vacant. 

Cox's employer at the Birmingham theatre was the elder 
Macready, father of the eminent tragedian W. C. Macready. He had 
other provincial theatres under his management at the same time ; 
and for about four years our artist was attached to his company, going 
with them on circuit to ' Bristol, Leicester, Sheffield, Manchester, 
Liverpool,' and other places. On occasions he even trod the boards, 
and having been in the habit of jumping through his own scenes a 
rArlequin, by way of constitutional after his work, is said to have once 
gone the length, to accommodate the manager, of essaying the part 
of clown or pantaloon in a small country town. Mr. Jenkins relates 
on the authority of two friends ' who were present, how David Cox, 
when advanced in years, amused a little sociable party of artists, by 
going through the postures of Harlequin with much humour and spirit. 

Cox used to express his regret that the scenery painted by De 
Maria had shared the fate of all such ephemeral works of art, and 
long since been destroyed. One might say the same of the efforts of 
his own brush in that department. But not entirely so. For there 
existed not many years ago, and perhaps still exist, a set of small 
scenes which he painted for a toy-theatre made for the amuse- 

1 The late W. Collingwood Smith, and Henry Jutsum, 



CH. iv LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 333 

ment of the manager's son, afterwards so distinguished, who was then 
a Rugby boy. For this litttle stage, the same hand that grew to 
paint that much admired work, ' Sheep changing the Pasture,' was 
then employed upon a miniature, but yet more interminable flock, 
that wound for ever on a roller on their way to an unseen market. 

Young Cox was not altogether satisfied with the life led by his 
companions of the sock and buskin ; and as his good mother feared 
for his morals, he readily yielded to her scruples, and an appeal made 
by her to the sympathies of Mrs. Macready got him released from 
his engagement. Then he lived at home for a while, or made short 
sketching excursions, and finally journeyed south under the attrac- 
tion of an offer from Astley, the circus proprietor, who had seen his 
work at the Birmingham theatre, to give him employment if he came 
to London. His watchful mother brought him to town in 1804, and 
found him board and quiet lodging at a respectable widow's in 
Lambeth, not far from the amphitheatre. But the promised engage- 
ment there came to nothing, 1 he having been forestalled by other 
painters. So he employed himself in making drawings for sale at the 
print shops, sketching for that purpose in the neighbourhood of London. 

Falser, who had then a shop in the Westminster Road close by, 
was one of his customers, and there he saw and was able to measure 
his strength by the works of the leaders of the school, Varley, 
Havell, and Glover. The dealers bought small studies in Indian ink 
or sepia from him at two guineas the dozen, the same price, be it 
remembered, which young ' Thaddeus of Warsaw ' Cotman had ven- 
tured to ask in Great Newport Street ten years before. They served 
to supply the country drawing masters with what, by a common 
ambiguous inversion of terms, are called ' copies,' that is to say, 
instructive models for pupils to copy from. A young Birmingham 
friend of Cox's, who followed him to London, was indeed a copyist 
in both senses of the word, for of these little drawings he made 
repetitions, which our artist kindly allowed him to sell in the same 
market. He afterwards pursued this second-hand branch of art as 
his profession, and was known in Rome for many years as Richard 
Evans, a copier of pictures by old masters. 

1 That he did some work for Astley is assumed in the following anecdote, which is told 
as a trait of that celebrated manager's eccentric character. Cox is said 'to have painted ' a 
drum, which being in perspective only, showed one head. Astley insisted that a drum had 
two heads.' He ' was not to be convinced, and had the drum painted with two heads by 
David Cox.' (J. J. J. MSS.) 



334 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 P,K. v 

Cox had another frequent companion in his sketching, namely 
Charles Barber, a son of his drawing master Joseph Barber. He had 
worked with him at Birmingham both in field and studio, and he too 
came to London on the strength of his friend's example. In the 
next year, 1805, these two went together on an artist trip to North 
Wales. David Cox must then have seen the opening exhibition of 
the Water-Colour Society in the Brook Street Rooms, and had in 
fresh recollection the works there by Varley and Havell, artists whom 
we are told he particularly admired. 1 They, no doubt, had their in- 
fluence on the spirit of his first contemplation of the mountain 
scenery dear to him in after life, of which he was to become in the end 
so great an exponent. Some of the subjects of Cox's sketches during 
this tour are named in Mr. Solly's elaborate memoir. He says they 
are ' rather slight ; some only in outline, and others tinted with Indian 
ink, good in composition, but without much effect.' Mr. Hall mentions 
one in pen-and-ink, with the date 'July I7th, 1 805.' 2 In 1 806, Cox went 
again to Wales, probably early in the year, and tried a little colouring 
on the spot, with ' indigo, gamboge, purple lake, and sepia, dissolved 
in bottles,' and a result ' low in tone but truthful, and somewhat in the 
manner of Barret and Varley.' 3 

Evidently, however, he was early impressed with the perception 
that landscape art is something more than mere copying from nature. 
He listened to the advice of a friendly dealer, one Simpson, of Greek 
Street, Soho, at whose shop he had been in the habit of disposing of 
his drawings, that he should copy from old masters also. He was 
allowed to come there, and make a landscape in water-colours after a 
fine picture by Caspar Poussin. Applying that master's method of 
treatment to a sketch of his own of Kenilworth Castle, he thus pro- 
duced a large drawing, still preserved, which a photograph in Mr. Solly's 
book shows to be a work of no ordinary beauty. In employing this 
excellent practical method of learning his art, he was but following the 
advice of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who has said, in his second Discourse : 
' What I would propose is that you should enter into a kind of com- 
petition, by painting a similar subject and making a companion to any 
picture that you consider as a model. . . . The true principles of 
painting will mingle with your thoughts.' To aid him in such studies 

1 Hall's Biography of Cox, p. 14. 

1 Solly's Life of Cox, p. 17. Hall's Biography, p. 16. 

1 Solly's Life of Cox, pp. 17, 1 8. 



CH. IV LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 335 

he bought a set of Pond's brown facsimiles of drawings by Poussin, 
Claude, and Salvator Rosa, which he is said to have used in after life 
also for reference as to composition and the massing of light and 
shade. 1 Nor did he neglect the instruction to be derived from con- 
temporary artists. Keenly alive to the splendid quality of Turner's 
genius, 2 he made, out of his very slender means, what doubtless turned 
out a profitable investment, by becoming one of the first subscribers 
to the Liber Studiorum, the opening number of which celebrated 
work appeared in 1807. 

Desiring also to add precept to example, as a means of advance- 
ment in his art, he resolved to get a few lessons from the best 
living teacher he could find. Happily for him, he selected John 
Varley. His treatment by that good and generous artist has been 
recorded in nearly the same words by both of Cox's biographers. 
After giving him a few lessons at ten shillings apiece, Varley, having 
heard that his pupil was an artist by profession though, on being 
questioned, he modestly declared that he was only trying to be one 
refused to take more of his money. ' I shall be happy,' said Varley, 
' to give you any advice or assistance in my power ; and I hope you 
\vill come here and see me draw as often as you please.' 

Cox still did a little work as a scene-painter, for which he got 
space in a builder's yard close by, belonging to his landlady's son-in- 
law, Mr. Hills, who kindly set him up a frame and hoardings. Here 
he painted some scenery for provincial theatres at Swansea and 
Wolverhampton at four shillings the square yard. Works by the same 
hand, observes Mr. Solly, have lately been competed for at ' some 
thousand pounds per yard.' He also had some commissions at what 
is now the Surrey Theatre, and was then the Royal Circus. That 
for Wolverhampton appears to have been painted in the summer or 
autumn of 1807. 

The year 1808 was an era in his life. In it he married the eldest 3 
of his landlady's three daughters, Mary Ragg, who proved a devoted 
and excellent wife. They took a small cottage ' at the corner of 
Dulwich Common, just passing the College on the road to the right,' 4 
in what was then a country spot, frequented by gipsies, and abounding 

1 Solly's Life of Cox, p. 16. 

2 An interesting drawing made by Cox as a lesson to a pupil, Lady Arclen, in recollection 
of Turner's ' Kingston Bank ' (now in the National Gallery), which he had just seen, was in 
his son's collection. (Solly's Life of Cox, pp. 28, 29. ) 

3 She was about eight years older than her husband. ' Solly's Life of Cox, p. 20. 



336 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

in oiher picturesque matter, now supplanted by bricks and mortar. 
There he sketched and worked at his easel, his bride sitting by him 
the while, and reading him a tale, or more often a book of biography 
or travel. But he was not as easily satisfied as she with what he 
produced, and he quietly put many a drawing, condemned by his own 
less enamoured judgment, down a convenient grating in the gutter, 
lest she should save it from destruction. 

He, however, adopted his wife's suggestion, in endeavouring to get 
a few pupils, and a card was put up in the window inscribed with the 
words, ' Perspective taught here." An aspiring carpenter and builder 
was the first to swallow the bait. But some ingenious friend per- 
suaded the would-be professor that, well as he might have caught 
the trick of deceiving the eye of a sitter in the dress circle, his scene- 
painter's perspective would not qualify him for a teacher without 
some knowledge of Euclid. So, to prepare himself for the pupil's 
coming, he plunged headlong into a study of the ancient geometer. 
That he got safely over the pans asinorum there is no reason to 
doubt ; but the road beyond opening out to him a vista in a kind of 
perspective for which he had small relish, he for once lost his patience, 
and flung the book to the other end of the room. It went through 
the lath-and-plaster wall, and was seen no more. ' And,' said old 
David when he told the story, ' there it is now.' But he obtained 
pupils, and of higher rank than the first. His drawings at Palser's 
caught the eye of the Hon. H. Windsor, colonel and amateur, and 
afterwards Earl of Plymouth, who sought him out and not only took 
some lessons from him, but got him aristocratic pupils at the West-end 
of town. 1 At first his terms were five shillings a lesson. Afterwards 
they rose to ten. Every year, from that after his marriage, when David 
junior, his only child, was born, he went to see his parents, and sketch 
near his old home. There was a dealer there, a Mr. Everitt, who 
bought his drawings, and to whose son he gave some lessons. 

Cox, as we have seen, was one of the rising water-colour painters 
who took advantage of the general exhibition opened by the Asso- 
ciated Artists, to offer his drawings to public criticism. It was 
in their second season, 1809, when they removed to New Bond 
Street, that he first became an Exhibitor. His ten drawings 

1 Lady Ardcn, Lady Burrell, Lady Sophia Cecil, Lady Gordon, the Hon. Misses Etien, 
and Miss Tylney Long had all the additional honour of being among Cox's early pupils. 
(Solly's Life of Cox, f. 22.) 



CM. iv LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 337 

were very favourably received, and declared to display ' high ori- 
ginality.' A contemporary critic, apparently of good taste, adds, 
' There is much truth and force in his pictures ; but his skies seem to 
be composed of the same material as the landscape, and assimilate so 
exactly with the ground that it is hard to tell where one leaves off 
and the other begins.' ' Recollecting how material an element in 
our artist's works are the ' brave o'erhanging canopy ' and breezy 
clouds, and how complete their union with the subject in hand, 
one may perhaps detect some unconscious praise in the above 
observation. 

The next year, 1810, he is President of the Association, with a set 
of thirty-seven drawings ; and his works, according to the same review, 
' are characterized by a sportive simplicity, and airiness of touch, and 
a judicious management of light and shadow, happily productive of 
those evanescent appearances which are peculiar to the cloudy atmo- 
sphere of England. He has a certain wildness of imagination which 
delights in the solitary scenes of nature, and a facility in tracing the 
general and familiar features of landscape. His great fault is a care- 
less haste and sketchiness of finish, by which [his] works betray, on a 
close inspection, the coarseness of scene-painting.' 2 It is entertaining 
to read the record of impressions made by the first seen works of 
artists whose names, then new to the little world of art, are now 
' familiar in our mouths as household words.' Cox filled the Presi- 
dent's chair for one year only, but remained an ' associated Member ' 
until the collapse of the Bond Street Society in 1812, when, as before 
related, he sustained the unfortunate loss of his drawings under the 
distress for rent. During the four seasons of his connexion with 
that Association he had exhibited 103 works. The subjects were 
nearly all either views in North Wales (chiefly castles at first), or pic- 
turesque scenes (cottages, river-side bits and the like), within easy 
reach of his homes in Warwickshire or Surrey. In 1 8 10 there is an 
'Ouse Bridge at York,' and in 1811 a sketch of 'Bath Minster; 'but these 
are exceptional. Several of his drawings, which had been seized for 
the Association's rent, were bought, at the forced sale which ensued, 
by the late Mr. J. Allnutt, of Clapham Common, and sold by that 
gentleman's executors in 1861. 

Cox was still residing at Dulwich in 1813, when his name first 
appeared among the painters in oil and water colours exhibiting at 

' Ackermann's Repository, \. 493. 2 Ibid. iii. 433. 



338 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813 1820 BK. V 

' Wigley's Rooms.' In the previous spring he had taken his wife 
and child to Hastings, and sketched there, as above mentioned, with 
William Havell, whose influence had, no doubt, its due weight in his 
election as an Associate in June 1812. Coast subjects, studied at 
that time, appear among his drawings in the gallery for some years 
after. Otherwise his exhibited drawings during his first two seasons 
at Spring Gardens are mostly views such as he had shown in Bond 
Street about the London Thames and Dulwich Common, with a few 
from Wales, some corn and hay fields, and unnamed subjects in 
morning, twilight, or midday sun. 

During this and the following years, Cox employed a part of his 
time in the preparation of a series of practical works containing 
prints to be used as models for students. The first of them was 
entitled, A Treatise on Landscape Painting and Effect in Water Colours. 
It was first published as a folio volume by Messrs. S. and J. Fuller of 
Rathbone Place in 1814 ; and there were several subsequent editions, 
one at least as late as 1841. The book contains twenty-five pages of 
soft ground etchings, and thirty-two of aquatinted drawings, some of 
the latter of which, in imitation of sepia, are compositions of much 
power and beauty. 

In 1815, the year of Waterloo, Cox's drawings might be sought for 
in vain at Wigley's Rooms. His name alone is in the list, with the new 
and rather startling address, ' Military College, Farnham.' There was, 
nevertheless, little of the soldier about ' Farmer Cox,' as Turner called 
him. When his name was drawn for the militia, a few years before, 
he had avoided service by making himself scarce. But the prospect 
of an assured income, and the representations of a friend, Andrew 
Wilson, one of his fellow-exhibitors among the ill-fated ' Associated 
Artists,' who had become a drawing master at Sandhurst College, had 
induced him to accept a like appointment. But our artist was not the 
man to be shelved in such an establishment, like some above named, or 
to waste his strength on maps for the game of war. Finding the occu- 
pation and the restraints of discipline alike distasteful, ' Captain Cox," 
as he was by courtesy styled (like the hatter in the musical farce), was 
only too glad to be soon released, and allowed to join his wife and 
child, from whom he had been parted by the required residence in 
college. 

It was in a less rigid school, and in the training for a gentler life, 
that the tutorial talent of David Cox was reserved for employment. 



CM. iv LANDSCAPE; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 339 

In the following year 1 he was installed as drawing master, at ioo/. 
per annum, to Miss Croucher's seminary for young ladies at Hereford, 
where he had to instruct the pupils not only in landscape drawing, 
but heads and hands, and flower painting, and ' bronzing on white 
wood in Chinese fashion,' whatever that process may have been. It 
was, however, on two days only in the week that he had to be thus 
employed, and it may easily be imagined that the charms of a country 
life, and proximity to the scenery of the Wye, were more than com- 
pensation for the drudgery, such as it was ; not to mention the liberty 
accorded him of taking other pupils in the neighbourhood. He soon 
obtained such engagements in the town, taught drawing at the 
grammar school, and at another establishment for young ladies kept 
by Miss Poole, and had private pupils among the county families 
round about. 

The epoch of his taking up his residence at Hereford is assigned 
by Mr. Solly as that which closed the first period of his art, when he 
was more under the influence of the old masters, and of Girtin, 
Varley, and Barret, and less of an original student of nature than he 
now became. The foliage and general colour are low in tone, and 
the effect fine but more obviously studied. 

Removed to Hereford with his belongings, Cox became, and re- 
mained for many years, one of the ' country members ' of our Society 
(like Turner of Oxford), and of necessity unable to take any actiye 
part in the management of its affairs. But he came to town, through 
Birmingham, yearly, to look after his own interests, see the exhibitions, 
and give a lesson or two, and perhaps sell a drawing, to an old pupil. 
At the same time he was contributing with increasing strength to the 
wealth and attractions of the gallery. From the year 1816 his con- 
tributions include many views in his new neighbourhood, where he 
had congenial scenery to study, and whence the subjects of some of 
his most important pictures are taken. In that year he exhibited a 
drawing of the Fish Market at Hastings, which was painted on a 
commission kindly given him by his pupil, Lady Arden, to help to 
enable him to defray the expenses of the removal to Hereford. It 

1 Mr. Solly assigns to Cox's removal to Farnham the year 1813, and to Hereford 1814 ; 
and Mr. Hall adopts the latter date, at least, without question. But the addresses given in 
the catalogues of the Society are evidence that the biographers are a year behind in these 
dates ; a supposition partially confirmed by a mistake of the former's in calling the artist's 
drawings of 1814 ' his first contributions.' Moreover he speaks, in another place, of 1815 as 
the year following the first-named removal. (Cf. Solly's Life of David Cox, pp. 29, 31, 34; 
and Hall's Biography of David Cox, p. 27.) 

Z 2 



340 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 UK. V 

was a subject that had already done good service under the hands of 
Heaphy and Cristall respectively. 

In 1817 he made, on commission, a series of views of Bath, at 
four guineas each, 1 some of which were afterwards published ; 2 but 
was prevented by a serious illness from contributing to the Society's 
exhibition. 

A ' View on the River Lugg, near Hereford,' in 1818, is spoken of 
by Mr. Solly as an important work. 3 In that year he made another 
excursion to North Wales. In 1819 he returned thither, and also 
visited Bath. With the exception of 1815, when he was at Farnharn, 
and 1817, when he was ill, he exhibited yearly during the Spring 
Gardens period seventy-nine drawings in all. 

While living at Hereford, Cox was further engaged in continuing 
the system of instruction which he had begun in his Treatise on 
Landscape. This work was followed in 1816 by a series of plates, 
entitled, ' Progressive Lessons on Landscape for Young Beginners, by 
David Cox, Member of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours, 4 
Spring Gardens, 1816.' These were issued by the same firm, and in- 
tended to be introductory to the ' Treatise ' already published. They 
consist of twenty- four plates of soft-ground etchings, designed as models 
for pencil drawing, beginning with one of simple lines, followed by 
seven of rustic architecture, castles, timbered houses &c., in outline, 
four of palings, stones, foreground plants &c., six of different kinds of 
trees, and six single plates of carts &c., rustic figures, poultry, sheep, 
cows, and horses. Contemporary, as it seems, with the last-mentioned 
work, was another, occupying an intermediate position between it and 
the ' Treatise,' but published by a different firm (T. Clay, No. 18 
Ludgate Hill), and entitled, A Series of Progressive Lessons, intended 
to elucidate the Art of Landscape Painting in Water Colours? This 
was not the last book of the kind which Cox published. He afterwards, 

1 T. Bunce's Catalogue of the Exhibition of Birmingham Engravers, 1877. 

2 Six Views in the City of Bath, engraved from Cox's drawings. S. and J. Fuller, 
Rathbone Place, London, 1820. 

3 Life of Cox, p. 41. 4 He sinks the oil element in the Society's title. 

5 In the fourth edition, dated 1820, the words, ' with Introductory Illustrations on Per- 
spective,' are added ; and it contains a preliminary chapter thereon, with three diagram 
plates inscribed with that date. The seven original plates bear date I August, 1816, 
presumably that of the first edition. One of these is a soft-ground etching containing 
four little views to show the meaning of the terms ' point of sight,' ' horizon,' &c. , and the 
remainder are aquatints ; four of which are printed twice each, and issued plain (in Indian 
Ink or Neutral Tint) and coloured ; and the other two presented in a coloured state only. 
The letterpress is chiefly confined to technical instruction. 






en. iv LANDSCAPE; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 341 

as \ve shall sec, issued more than one set of entirely different plates 
under a similar title, the use of which creates confusion as to their 
dates. 

Cox's young Birmingham friend and fellow-sketcher, who went 
with him on his first trip to Wales in 1805, was the same CHARLES 
BARBER who was elected an Associate at the same time with him, in 
June 1812. Like Cox, he was too late to exercise his privilege of 
exhibiting with the untransformed Society, but he did not, like his 
companion, join the ' Oil and Water Colour ' as a full Member. He, 
too, had sent works to the Bond Street Gallery, as an Exhibitor in 
1810, and as a Member in 1811 and 1812. His name leaves only a 
faint impression on the annals of our Society. He exhibited but 
eight works at Spring Gardens between 1813 and 1816. In the last- 
mentioned year he had left Birmingham and was settled at Liverpool, 
where he became a teacher and eventually president of the local 
Institute, and died in January 1854. His friendship with Cox endured 
through life, and they often met at Bettws in after years. 

The name of SAMUEL PROUT, which makes its first appearance 
in the year 1815, is familiar to all, as one of the leading group, to 
which Hunt and Cox and De Wint belong, in the Society's palmy 
days. He had not yet developed the peculiar style, or attempted the 
higher class of subjects, by which he is most popularly known. To 
him, as to his brother sketchers, the Continent had hitherto been 
closed. The long war indeed was now in its last year, and in a few 
more seasons Europe would be overrun by British artists, Prout 
among the number. Till then he was in a prior and distinct stage of 
his career ; in what might in the language of the architectural anti- 
quary be called the ' Early English ' period, which in his case pre- 
ceded the ' Norman.' But the works he had already produced 
afforded ample testimony to the soundness and vigour of his art. 

He was born on the i/th of September, 1783, at Plymouth. 1 
What his father's occupation was is not known with certainty, but it 
is believed to have been unconnected with art, which he, like so many 
parents mentioned in this chronicle, held to be an idle amusement. 

1 Mr. S. C. Hall, in Retrospect of a Long Life, ii. 211, writes: ' In the autumn of 1882, 1 
visitml at Tlymouth the street in which Samuel Trout was born in 1783. The house itself has 
bivn pulled down ; in it his father carried on the trade of a bookseller.' Whether the last 
allegation be correct is open to doubt. 



42 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 I:K. v 

Of the son the old story is related, that a love of drawing, too 
strong to resist, became at length the object of a life's licensed 
devotion. 

An event which occurred when the child was but four or five 
years old, may have rendered the guardians less obdurate in thwarting 
his inclination. Being out nutting one hot day, alone, he had a bad 
sunstroke, was found ' moaning under a hedge, and brought home 
insensible.' Delicate to begin with, his health was ever after a serious 
bar to active occupation. ' From that day forward,' writes a bio- 
grapher ' to whom he himself related the circumstances, ' he was subject 
to attacks of violent pain in the head, recurring at short intervals, 
and until thirty years after marriage not a week passed without one 
or two days of absolute confinement to his room or to his bed.' 

As he grew a little older, his boyish taste was not left without 
recognition or sympathy. He was fortunate in being placed under a 
kind schoolmaster, who was gentle with him when, seduced by the 
charm of his pencil, he neglected his task ; and who encouraged him 
to draw with greater care. It is told how the genial preceptor put 
him by his side, and lent him his own pen to make a study of the cat. 
The boy also found models in the carts and horses that stopped 
at the public-house opposite his home ; and he copied what prints he 
could get. When old enough he went to the Plymouth Grammar 
School, and there too found a friend 2 in the head master, the Rev. 
John Bidlake, D.D., who, himself an amateur, took a practical interest 
in his artistic progress, and made him his companion in delightful 
excursions amidst the lovely scenery of their neighbourhood. 

At Dr. Bidlake's school he had a young comrade as enthusiastic 
as himself in the pursuit of art ; namely, Benjamin Robert Haydon, a 
little more than two years his junior. The world is too familiar with 
that artist's painful story. He was then in the spring-tide of his 
hope. The hand that first recorded, and finally brought to their 
bitter end, the high aspirations of his troubled life, was pleasantly 
employed with Prout's in sketching round Mount Edgcumbe, and 
about the green lanes and sunny shores of beauteous Devon. ' Prout 
devoted whole days from dawn till night,' says Mr. Ruskin, 3 ' to the 
study of the peculiar objects of his early interest, the ivy-mantled 

1 John Ruskin (Art Journal, \ March, 1849). 

3 It is assumed that the friend before mentioned was a different person, for he is 
described, without name, as the boy's ' first schoolmaster.' (Art Journal, ubi supra.} 
3 Ubi supra. 



CH. IV LANDSCAPE; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 343 

bridges, mossy water-mills, and rock-built cottages, which characterize 
the valley scenery ' of that county. The picturesque shipping craft 
about Plymouth Dock afforded endless subjects for his pencil. On 
one memorable occasion, an ill wind to many brought a veritable 
godsend to the brother sketchers. 

On the 26th of January, 1796, a large East Indiaman, the Button, 
then chartered as a transport with troops for the West Indies, was 
cast ashore under the citadel, and its wreck broke up on the beach. 
The accident proved a source of honour to more than one person. 
It gave a baronetcy to the gallant Sir Edward Pellew (afterwards 
Lord Exmouth), whose great personal courage saved the crew ; and 
who was permitted ever after to use as his crest the effigy of a 
stranded ship. But artists in these early days were not so honoured, 
nor were even knighthoods conferred upon painters in water-colours. 
In recording their assistance on this occasion, our humble sketchers 
could not hope to invoke the aid of the limner to the Heralds' 
College. They had to ply their own pencils instead. The incident 
nevertheless was to contribute to the fame of one of them, as well as 
the intrepid mariner. The tale must be told in the words of the 
eminent writer already quoted. ' The wreck held together for many 
hours under the cliff, rolling to and fro as the surges struck her. 
Haydon and Prout sat on the crags together and watched her vanish 
fragment by fragment into the gnashing foam. Both were equally 
awestruck at the time ; both, on the morrow, resolved to paint their 
first pictures ; both failed, but Haydon, always incapable of acknow- 
ledging and remaining loyal to the majesty of what he had seen, lost 
himself in vulgar thunder and lightning. Prout struggled to some 
resemblance of the actual scene, and the effect upon his mind was 
never effaced.' ' The ' strong and lasting impression made upon him ' 
by the scene became the motive of some noble drawings made many 
years after, and admired in the London galleries. 

There was little in common between Prout and Haydon, except 
their love of art ; and when afterwards both settled in London, they 
were on friendly but never very familiar terms. But their earlier 
acquaintance was productive of other important results to Samuel 
Prout. Haydon's father was a bookseller in Plymouth, and kept a 
reading-room. There, some of the persons of the place who had 
literary and artistic tastes used to congregate ; among them Dr. 

1 Art Journal, I March, 1849, p. JJ, 



344 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 UK. v 

Bidlake, a drawing master named S. Williams, and divers proteges 
of the good Doctor's. And there, John Britton, the topographic 
architectural antiquary, coming to Plymouth for a few days, in 
December 1801, on his way to Cornwall to collect materials for his 
Beauties of England and Wales, found himself in this little coterie, 
and made the acquaintance of Samuel Prout, then a young man of 
eighteen. 

' This party,' says Britton, in a graphic account of his relations 
with our artist, 1 ' interested me in an extraordinary manner, for the 
master and his pupils seemed imbued with one feeling, one ruling 
passion a love of literature and art. Wishing to have drawings of 
buildings and scenes in Cornwall for the " Beauties of England," I 
offered to take Mr. Prout with me into that county and pay his ex- 
penses. His parents cheerfully agreed to this proposal, and the youth 
was delighted with an anticipated treat. My intention was to enter 
at Saltash at the south-east corner of the county, walk thence to the 
Land's End, calling at and examining towns, seats, ancient buildings, 
and remarkable objects on or near to the line of the main public road. 
Unfortunately for the pedestrian author and artist, neither of whom 
was hardy or robust in constitution, the time of year was unpropitious, 
and we had to encounter rain, snow, cold, and other accompanying 
unpleasantries. Our first day's walk was from Plymouth to St. 
Germain's, through a heavy fall of snow. On reaching the latter 
borough town, our reception at the inn was not calculated to afford 
much comfort, or a pleasant presage for the peripatetics through 
Cornwall in winter. The small room into which we were shown 
certainly had a fireplace, and something like a fire ; at least there 
was abundance of smoke, which seemed to prefer the apartment to the 
chimney. It was truly miserable. Our approach to the bedroom 
was by a flight of stone steps, on the outside of the house. The object 
of visiting this place was to draw and describe the old parish church, 
which is within the grounds of the seat of Port Elliot, belonging to 
Lord Elliot. Prout's first task was to make a sketch of the west end 
of this building, which is of early Norman architecture, with two towers, 
one of which is square, the other octagonal. Between these is a large 
semicircular doorway with several receding arches, but there is very 
little of other detail. My young artist was, however, sadly embarrassed, 
not knowing where to begin, how to settle the perspective, or dcter- 

1 Communicated to the Builder, 29 May 1852, x. 339-340. 



CH. IV LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 345 

mine the relative proportions of the heights and widths of parts. He 
continued before the building for four or five hours, and at last his 
drawing was so inaccurate in proportion and detail, that it was unfit 
for engraving. This was a mortifying beginning both to the author 
and to the artist. He began another sketch the next morning, and 
persevered at it nearly the whole day ; but still failed to obtain such 
a drawing as I could have engraved. His next attempt was the 
church tower of Frobus, an enriched and rather elaborate specimen of 
Cornish architecture. It is built of the moor stone of the county, and 
is adorned with quatrefoil panelling between string-courses in the 
different stories, niches in the walls, pinnacled buttresses enriched 
with crockets and finials, and with large blank windows having 
mullions and tracery. A sketch of this was a long day's work ; and, 
though afterwards engraved, reflected no credit on the author or the 
artist. The poor fellow cried, and was really distressed, and I felt as 
acutely as he possibly could, for I had calculated on having a pleasing 
companion in such a dreary journey, and also to obtain some correct 
and satisfactory sketches. 1 On proceeding further, we had occasion 
to visit certain Druidical monuments, vast rocks, monastic wells, and 
stone crosses, on the moors north of Liskeard. Some of these 
objects my young friend delineated with smartness and tolerable 
accuracy. 

' We proceeded on to St. Austell, and from thence to Ruan 
Lanyhorne, where we found comfortable and happy quarters in the 
house of the Rev. John Whitaker, 2 the historian of Manchester, and the 
author of several other literary works. Here we sojourned six days 
and quite luxuriated in the comforts of a warm house, a warm recep- 
tion, and converse of a learned man who had associated with a Johnson, 
a Gibbon, and a Goldsmith, and other literary comets of the age.' 
The rector, who, isolated among the cottagers, fishermen, and miners, 
spent his time in supporting ' Church and King,' by writing articles 
for the British Critic and Anti-Jacobin Reviezv, favoured the tourists, 
on the Sunday, with an archaeological sermon, unintelligible to the 
rest of the congregation. Prout returned his hospitality by presenting 
as tokens of remembrance to the two Miss Whitakers, ' agreeable and 
kind ' young ladies of about sixteen and eighteen, some of the sketches 

1 Perhaps the sensitiveness of the humble art student and that of the autobiographic 
antiquary were not exactly alike in quality. 

2 Born at Manchester about 1735, was rector of Ruan for thirty years, and was buried 
there in 1808. 



346 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1815 1820 I;K. v 

he made during his stay. Britton describes these (five or six) sketches 
as ' pleasing and truly picturesque.' One of them ' included the 
church, the parsonage, some cottages mixing with trees, the waters of 
the river Fal, the moors in the distance, and a fisherman's ragged cot 
in the foreground, raised against, and mixing with, the mass of 
rocks.' There were ' also a broken boat, with nets, sails, &c., in the 
foreground.' 

' The next halting-place was Truro, the principal town of the 
county, where Prout made a sketch of the church, a large building in 
an open space surrounded by houses. Here again he was embarrassed 
with the mullioned windows and other architectural parts, and also 
with a large extent of iron railing that surrounded the building.' This 
failure seems to have been the last straw that broke the back of Prout's 
sketching engagement with Mr. Britton. ' At this place/ continued 
the latter, ' we parted ; I to proceed on foot westward towards the 
Land's End, &c., and Prout to return by coach to Plymouth. This 
parting was on perfectly good terms, though exceedingly mortifying 
to both parties ; for his skill as an artist had been impeached, and I 
had to pay a few pounds for a speculation which completely failed.' 

Poor Prout described his sorrowful journey home, and how he 
employed himself on his return, in a grateful letter to Britton, from 
which the following is an extract : ' On Friday morning, after an 
unpleasant journey, I arrived at Plymouth, not without feeling much 
fatigue ; the coach being bad, but the roads worse. The weather have 
been very unpleasant. I hope the latter part of your journey has 
proved better than the former. The remembrance of Ruan will never 
be eradicated from my memory. I am at present very busy learning 
perspective. 1 When better qualified to draw buildings, I will visit 
Launceston, Tavistock, &c., and try to make some correct sketches 
which may be proper for the " Beauties." My father is much obliged 
for your attentions to me, as I am, though conscious of my un worthi- 
ness. I hope you will favour me soon with the loan of a portfolio of 
drawings which you kindly promised to lend me to copy.' 

The connexion did not end here, but was fraught with future 
benefit to both. Prout was as good as his word, and so was Britton. 

1 Possibly this was the occasion of his being ' allowed to have a few lessons from ' the 
'local teacher, S. Williams,' before mentioned, as stated by the Messrs. Redgrave {Century 
of Painters, ii. 488). It is not very clear what direct instruction in art, if any, young Prout 
may have received. William Payne, we know, was then practising at Plymouth, but he was 
not then the celebrated drawing master that he afterwards became. 



CH. iv LANDSCAPE; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 347 

After a year's work our artist had so far improved ' in perspective 
lines, proportion and architectural details," that in May 1802 he was 
able to send to his patron a portfolio of sketches, which ' created a 
sensation with lovers of art.' And Prout received so many offers of 
encouragement that he determined to try his fortune in London. 

Britton was then residing in Wilderness Row, Clerkenwell. 
There Prout became an inmate, and ' had his board and lodging for 
about two years.' ' The immediate effect of this change of position,' 
says Ruskin, ' was what might easily have been foretold, upon a mind 
naturally sensitive, diffident, and enthusiastic. It was a heavy dis- 
couragement. The youth felt that he had much to eradicate, and 
more to learn, and hardly knew at first how to avail himself of 
the advantages presented by the study of the works of Turner, 
Girtin, Cozens and others.' For Britton had placed before him the 
best drawings and sketches he possessed, by Turner, Alexander, 
Mackenzie, Cotman, and others, and of these he employed him in 
making copies while he remained under his roof. Sometimes he took 
him to the studio of Benjamin West, and on one occasion the worthy 
President of the Academy ' gave him most valuable and practical 
advice on the principles of light and shadow, by making a drawing of 
a ball or globe ' with ' all the gradations ' so as to show the way of 
' exhibiting rotund bodies on flat surfaces.' The lesson was ' given in 
a few minutes, and accompanied by such theoretical and kind remarks 
as served to characterize the master, and make indelible impression 
on the head and heart of the pupil. Prout often referred to this 
important interview with gratitude and delight.' Britton also in- 
troduced him to Northcote, who, ' being a native of the same county, 
delighted in talking about Devonshire, its artists, scenery, &c.' In 
him ' Prout found a valuable and instructive companion and adviser.' 

In 1803 an d 1804 Prout was sent by his patron 'to visit the 
counties of Cambridge, Essex, and Wilts, to make sketches and 
studies of buildings, monuments, and scenery,' and accomplished his 
task, both as to the drawings he made and the manuscript notes by 
which they were accompanied, to the entire satisfaction of his em- 
ployer. Some of the subjects are engraved in the ' Beauties,' and 
some in Britton's Architectural Antiquities. 

But Prout had to contend with a more persistent foe than the 
unripeness of his faculty. His delicate health deprived him of the 
energy required to prosecute his studies with due effect. He was 



348 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 UK. v 

often prostrated by bilious headaches. And in 1805, mainly for this 
reason, he returned to his home in Devonshire. 

The following letter, written by him to Britton, gives an interesting 
picture of the writer and his occupations on his return to Devonshire. 
The original is in a collection of autographs in the possession of Mr. 
Robert Hampson, who has kindly lent it for publication : 

' Plymouth Oct. l6th '05 

' Dear Sir, I am just returned after a months visit to the Dart- 
moors. I feel much strength from the influence of its pure air, and 
little Prout stands as firm as a Lion. My object has not been so 
much to make sketches as to find health. She lives on the highest 
torrs. I have her blessing. 

' The subjects in my portfolio are generally rock-scenery, most of 
them colord and highly finished from nature. In my excursions on the 
moor from Torr-royal I saw several stone crosses, but most of them 
very plain. Piles of stone, very like cromlechs, but probably only 
known to the tinners or shepherds for shelter. I must not omit the 
mention of one days adventure in particular : A gentleman and 
myself, in spite of every remonstrance took horses to explore some 
parts of the moor, which is destitute of any habitation. To the 
surprize of many, our resolution carried us over its dangers and 
difficulties for twelve miles, not a trace of any road or footstep. I 
cannot describe the scenery as it impressed my mind. Masses of 
rock (to which the Cheezewring is a pebble) crowning every hill and 
broken in the valley, like the desolated ruins of an extensive city- 
bogs two and three miles in width angry rivers foaming over broken 
paths of rock, awfully grand of itself, but as a whole more so from 
the terrific and savage wildness of its hills and vales. We found 
more trouble to lead our horses, than in finding our own safety. I 
was at the rise of the East and West Oak, Taw, and Dart rivers. 
Night coming on our fears troubling lest a mist should close on us, 
made us haste our steps to something like civilization a moor-cottage 
but these are far from it in many respects. Unexpectedly we saw 
a very curious druidical circle (a proof with the crosses that Dartmoor 
was once at least partially inhabited, and might be known to the 
ancient-Brittons). I had not time to sketch, but it was double, 
each circle of about thirty stones, most of which were standing, and of 
the same proportion as the Hurlers thus ' (here follows a plan of two 



CH. iv LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 349 

circles touching) ' tis very perfect, and very conspicuous. The surface 
of the moor is generally marked with rock of various sizes, but where 
the circles remain, scarce a chance stone is seen for a quarter of a mile. 
I was much pleased with the slight observance of it, but sorry I was 
so circumstanced that every moment was precious for our safety. I 
have made sketches of the vale at Lidford, Oakhampton and castle, 
the cross and chapel at South-Zeal, Crediton, the Logan-stone, &c. 
Cold rains now keep me within doors, my time is industriously filled 
in preparations for a school, when settled I am at your service, and 
will forward something for the Beauties. I was much mortified to 
see my name at Frogmore. I hope you will not forget the impres- 
sions (large paper) from the B. E. W. I left a list with you of such as I 
have not Do not forget Oakhampton Castle. I have begun my 
additions to the Devon and Cornwall. I long to see the second part of 
your antiquities. Still poor, but little better in hope, cannot afford to 
take in your numbers, but by the favour of two good impressions of 
the W. end of K. C. Chapel. In the private drawer of the desk I 
left a profile in a black frame which I will thank you to send as soon 
as possible to Longmans, who can forward it to me by John's parcel. 
Exeter must be left till the Spring. Cornwall must be left also. Sad 
complaints at Plymouth that the Beauties are always behind the other 
periodical publications. Kind Remb ce to Mrs. Britton, and Mr. 
Pasquier, also to Mr. and Mrs. Brayley with Mr. Jones tell Mr. B. I 
shall write him soon. When you see Satchwell present my best 
respects. Perhaps you will enclose a few lines with the frame I have 
requested you to send. A little London news will be very acceptable. 
I still am tormented with a great partiality to the great city, the hope 
of ever seeing it again is on a slight foundation. Be so good as to 
drop the enclosed in the twopenny post. 

' Yr 9 sincerely 

' S. PJROUT JUN R .' 

Much of the result of all this touring and sketching is preserved 
in the publications above mentioned. To the Beauties of England and 
Wales, Prout contributed, or had a share in contributing, about twenty- 
six plates, which bear dates from 1803 to 1813. Nineof them are in the 
Devon volume (with dates to 1809), but two-thirds of these are done 
by other artists (Shepherd, J. C. Smith, Thompson, and Arnald) from 
his sketches. In the Essex volume (1804 to 1807) there are seven 



3jo THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

by Prout. Other of his early English views are engraved on a smaller 
scale in the Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet, and elsewhere. 

Though compelled for a time to reside in Devonshire, he had esta- 
blished a connexion in London, and his name was known among 
the dealers. Falser, of the Westminster Bridge Road, who, as the 
reader will recollect, was one of the first to recognize the commercial 
value of David Cox's works, was at nearly the same time the earliest 
purchaser of Samuel Prout's. He used to take all his water-colour 
drawings, and had a ready sale for them. 1 

Some of Prout's early productions could be had for 3^. each. 
Others he sold at 5^- the dozen. Palser is said to have paid $s. apiece 
for those he bought. 2 Prout made many drawings at the latter price 
for illustrating such books as Pennants Tour, which was a fashion- 
able amusement of the time. Prout and Cox became intimately 
acquainted when the latter came to London in 1804, and they both 
supplied the dealers with drawing ' copies ' for the country market. 3 

Prout had made his debut as an exhibitor in 1803, when he had, at 
the Royal Academy, a drawing entitled ' Bennct's Cottage, on the Tamar, 
near Plymouth.' He was then ' S. Prout, junior', and hailed from 
' 10 Water Street, Bridewell Precinct.' It is not until the next year 
that he gives Britton's address : ' 2 1 Wilderness Row, Goswell Street ' 
(with a drawing of ' St. Keyne's Well, Cornwall'). In 1805 he has 
three views, ' Oakhampton Castle, Devonshire,' ' Farleigh Castle, 
Somersetshire,' and ' The Grand Porch of Malmsbury Abbey Church, 
Wiltshire.' Then we lose his name for a couple of years ; during 
which he probably remained in the West Country. In 1808 he has 
again a London address, at 55 Poland Street, and between that year 
and 1810 four drawings at Somerset House, all views in Devon or 
Cornwall. In the latter year he appears as a Member of the Associated 
Artists in Water-Colours, with whom he is thenceforward a constant 
and fertile exhibitor, while their Society lasts. During his three 
seasons at their gallery in Bond Street, he had thirty works in all, 
adding in them to his Devonshire subjects some views in Kent, and a 
considerable proportion of studies of shipping. Among the latter was 

1 Athetueum, 14 Feb. 1852. 

1 J. J. J. MSS. Mr. Alfred Fripp relates that on his first serving in 1850 on the Hang- 
ing Committee of the Society, with Prout and others, he was ' lectured ' (not unkindly) ' by the 
veteran Member on the sin of a young man's asking high prices for his works, Prout citing 
his own early practice by way of example, when ' he was content with two and sixpence for 
his small drawings,' and delighted and surprised when Ackermann in the Strand 'raised his 
prices to five shillings.' ' Hall's Biography of Cox, p. 14. 



CH. iv LANDSCAPE; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 351 

the ' Wreck of an Indiaman, Plymouth Sound,' with the origin whereof 
the reader is already acquainted. It was shown in 1811. In that 
year, and for many years afterwards, Prout resided at 4 Brixton 
Place, ' Stockwcll ' (or ' Brixton '), 'just at the rural extremity of Cold 
Harbour Lane.' l 

Meanwhile his topographic sketches had been further utilized in a 
collection of prints issued by W. Clarke of New Bond Street, with the 
title ' Relics of Antiquity, or Remains of Ancient Structures, with 
other Vestiges of early times in Great Britain, accompanied by de- 
scriptive sketches." They came out in numbers, beginning April 1810, 
which form a quarto volume with the date 1811. The plates, of 
the nature of ' engravers' etchings,' are after various artists (Dayes, 
Storer, &c.), thirty being after Prout, the subjects of which are from 
various counties, about a third only from the West Country. 2 These 
plates are dated i March to i June, 1810. 

In 1812, 1813, and 1814, he again exhibits at the Royal Academy 
fifteen works in all, mostly Cornish and Devon views, with two of 
Freshwater in the Isle of Wight. In 1814, 1815, he has twenty-eight 
works in the abortive series of exhibitions in Bond Street, which 
followed the break-up of both the Associated Artists and our own 
Society in 1812. 

At the same time he had been engaged in giving personal instruc- 
tion to pupils, in addition to the service he rendered to learners by 
the circulation of his model designs. Some of the latter he had been 
able to disseminate more widely by the employment of soft -ground 
etching (a process used before the invention of lithography, and 
productive of a very similar result) in a work entitled ' Rudiments of 
Landscape, in Progressive Studies, Drawn and Etched in imitation 
of chalk, by Samuel Prout. London, R. Ackermann, 101 Strand, 
1813.' It is in three parts, each containing twenty-four large plates, 
together with letterpress instructions. Part I. contains picturesque 
bits and studies of rustic and other architecture, in soft etching. 
In Part II. the shadows are put in strongly in aquatint, in imitation 
of sepia. Part III. contains coloured aquatints. It will be observed 
that this work preceded by about a year the first of Cox's books 
of the same kind. The letterpress is confined to useful practical 

1 Ruskin's Notes on Frout anil Hunt, 1879. 

1 The description of one (' Entrance of the Hospital of St. Mary-wike, Cornwall ') refers 
to a publication as Proud Tour. 



352 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

hints, and does not attempt to deal with landscape art in its higher 
departments of composition and treatment of a subject, except 
perhaps in some remarks pointing out the effect on the mind of 
introducing part only of an object to give a greater impression of its 
size. He names the following mixtures for the greys of shadows : 
Indian red or Madder brown with Indigo ; and Vandyke brown or 
Gamboge with Lake or Prussian blue. He advocates the use of a large 
brush and good point, and the practice of copying aquatints to give 
clearness and decision of handling. He tells the sketcher to acquire 
the habit of standing while he draws from nature, and to make careful 
studies of foregrounds for future reference. And he recommends the 
employment of scientific aids, such as the camera obscura, Dr. Wollas- 
ton's camera lucida, and C. Varley's graphic telescope. 

In the same year 1813, a set of eleven coloured plates, 'drawn 
and etched by Samuel Prout,' were published by ' T. Palser, Surrey 
Side, Westminster Bridge,' with the title Fronts Village Scenery. 
Except two (' Eastry, Kent,' and ' Carisbrook, Isle of Wight ') the 
subjects are from Cornwall and Devon, all cottages, some with a 
church tower behind. The plates measure /f x 12 inches, are etched 
in the soft ground, and not improved by colour. Of the same period, 
size, imprint, and manner of engraving, there are also detached prints of 
marine subjects : two, for example, lettered ' Sandgate Beach ' and 
'Under Convoy,' dated I Jan. 1814. 

In 1815 Prout's name first appeared in the catalogue of the Oil 
and Water Colour Society as an Exhibitor, and from that year until 
1819, in which on the 29th of June he was elected a Member, he had 
seven or eight works annually on view in the gallery. If the subjects 
of his exhibited drawings are to be taken as evidence of travel, those 
in 1815 would imply that he had been in the. North before that time, 
for they include views at Durham, Jedburgh, and Kelso ; and in 1818 
he has one of Melrose Abbey. 

There is another collection of twenty-four views, also in soft- 
ground plates measuring about 6| by 8| inches, published at various 
dates between February and August 1816, by Ackermann. Three- 
eighths of these are, more or less, boat studies on the beach of our 
south coast, the rest being architectural or rural studies, some of 
them complete landscapes of a simple kind, with a few trees. Among 
these also there are two northern subjects : ' Craigmillar ' and 
' Norham.' Possibly the}' were a selection from the following scries, 



CH. iv LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 353 

which are named in Ackermann's advertisements a few years later, 
viz. : ' A New Drawing-Book for the Use of Beginners, consisting of 
Fragments of Ancient Buildings &c! (four numbers of six plates) ; and 
Studies of Boats and Coast Scenery (four numbers of four plates). 
Front's drawing and model books for students are, however, so 
numerous at this time that it is probably impossible to form a com- 
plete list, nor always easy to distinguish between them. Yet another 
set of rustic cottage subjects was published by Ackermann in oblong 
quarto, with the date 1821 (the plates of which are, however, all dated 
'Jan. 1819'), entitled, 'A New Drawing-Book in the manner of chalk, 
containing Twelve Views in the West of England! This was fol- 
lowed by ' A Series of Views of Rural Cottages in the North of Eng- 
land, Drawn and Etched in imitation of chalk by Samuel Prout.' 
They are twelve subjects from Yorkshire &c., the plates dated 
1821. 

While issuing all these model studies by means of soft-ground 
etching, Prout was, we may be sure, busy also with pupils ; and he 
supplemented his ' Rudiments ' with another practical work, entitled 
' A Series of Easy Lessons in Landscape Drawing, contained in forty 
Plates ; arranged progressively from the first principles in the chalk 
manner to the finished Landscape colours, by Samuel Prout. 
London. R. Ackermann, 101 Strand. 1820.' Plates 5f by 8 inches, 
and dated Feb. to Nov. 1819. This work resembles, on a small 
scale, the ' Rudiments ' both in system and in subjects, and in some 
respects is better executed. The final prints are more agreeably 
coloured, and the foliage is freer in touch. The letterpress is confined 
to two introductory pages of sound advice. We may perceive in the 
following general hints there given as to colouring, and light and 
shade, what were the qualities that Prout considered most essential 
to, and how simple were the processes that he deemed enough for the 
production of a work of art : ' Some of the subjects are first tinted 
with grey, that is neutral tint, producing the general effect of a draw- 
ing, except what blue is in the sky, and the darkest touches. The 
whole is then washed over with a warm tint of red and yellow ; after 
which a little local colour only is necessary on the different parts. It 
is then to be finished with a few dark touches, to mark more decidedly 
the features of the picture. But few colours are necessary, it being 
the balance of warm and cold colours which produces brilliancy ; 
some of the cold tints being carried into the warm masses, and the 

A A 



354 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813 1820 UK. v 

warm tints balanced with cold. . . . Light and shade should be 
distributed in large masses uniting light to light, and shade to 
shade, to prevent confusion and distraction to the eye, which is 
always the effect of a number of prominent objects scattered about 
the picture. There should be a union in chiaro-oscuro as well as 
in colour ; nothing discordant, every part associating with each other.' 
The importance of this general union, which artists call ' breadth,' was 
more cherished by the early landscape painters of our school, than it 
is in these later days of competition with the photographer. 

The year 1819, besides being that of his election, was in another 
respect a great epoch in Prout's career. Although he continued for 
a few years to draw his former class of subjects for the press, it 
marks the closing time of his art's first period (that of Devon views 
and Cornish cottages, coast scenes and bits of shipping), and is the 
dawn of that which followed his first crossing the British Channel. 
The next season's exhibition (the last at Spring Gardens) showed 
some of the results of his first visit to France. But these properly 
belong to a future chapter of our history, in which Prout has to shine 
forth as a leading star. With them there were still some recollec- 
tions of the Button disaster, in two drawings of ' Wreckers under 
Plymouth Citadel ' and ' Dismasted Indiamen on Shore.' 

Other designs of Prout's may doubtless be found scattered among 
topographical books of the time. For example, a little plate of 
' Deal ' (about 2f by 3^ inches), engraved by T. Baker, and dated 
I July, 1820, is in Excursions through Kent (Longmans, 1822). And 
among the forty highly coloured aquatints in The Nortliern Cambrian 
Mountains (folio, 1820) is one of ' Flint Castle, drawn by S. Prout, 
from a sketch by Girtin," dated I July, 1820, and engraved by T. H. 
Fielding. The above are entirely of Prout's earlier period, before he 
had travelled beyond the British Isles. 

Another landscape painter of note, who made his first appear- 
ance in 1813, was GEORGE FENNEL ROBSON. He was born at Dur- 
ham in 1788, the eldest son 1 of Robert and Margaret Robson, of 
Warrington in Lancashire. His father, a wine merchant in the 
above city, had come from Etterby near Carlisle, where (as appeareth 
continuously on Court Rolls preserved by the Lowther family) the 

1 The late Dr. Robson, of Warrington, a local antiquary of some note, was the artist's 
brother. He died 9 December, 1871, aged seventy-one. (See Transactions of the 'Historic 
Society of Lancashire and Cheshire,' 28th Session, 1875-76.) 



CH. iv LANDSCAPE; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 355 

Robsons had been for many generations copyholders, in the Barony 
of Bourgh, of an estate on the banks of the Eden, with right of 
fishing in that river. His mother was descended from Irish Protes- 
tants, who fled from Kilkenny to save their lives from the ' Irish 
massacre 'of 1641. 

Young Robson evinced his predilection early. To be told that, 
among the truant urchins, who hovered fly-like about artist visitors to 
grand old Durham in Girtin's day, was one whose after drawings of 
the fine subjects there were long so universally admired, may tend to 
reconcile some thin-skinned yet kindly sketcher to a similar infliction. 
For to watch field-painters at their work is said to have been the 
boy's great delight. But his first practice was to copy the cuts in 
Bewick's History of Quadrupeds, the first edition of which work was 
published when Robson was a child of two. His father fell in with this 
liking, and gave him what instruction in drawing the city afforded. 
But its resources were limited. He soon surpassed the only professor, 
Mr. Harle, and was then allowed to go to London, with five pounds in 
his pocket, to try his fortune. It was at about the time when Cox, 
five years his elder, went there too, and the Water-Colour Society was 
being founded. 

Fascinated as he had been by the outdoor work of the Durham 
sketchers, he was fired with a warmer spirit of emulation when he 
beheld the maturer labours of the group of masters in landscape whose 
art was now displayed before him. He applied himself with great 
assiduity, and so much success, that in less than a year he established 
his independence, by returning the five pounds his father had given 
him. He began to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1807. In 1808 
he published a print of Durham, which realized profit enough to 
enable him to pay a long visit to Scotland, where he laid in a store 
of undying impressions among the Grampian Hills. There he 
acquired a taste for wild and rugged vastness which was afterwards 
displayed in his favourite subjects. Mountain scenery, which has a 
depressing influence on some persons, had the opposite effect on him. 
It raised his spirits to an hilarious pitch. ' His residence in the High- 
lands,' says one of his biographers, ' was to him a perfect period of 
revelry.' ' But he brought home a large number of serviceable 
sketches, of which he afterwards made good use. 

From iSioto 1812 hs exhibited landscapes, thirty-five in all, at 

1 Arnold's Magazine of ike Fine Arts, iii. 361; 



356 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813 1820 BK. v 

the Bond Street gallery, and in the last two years was a Member of 
the Society there. From the lists of subjects, which in the first year 
are nearly all Durham and Yorkshire, and in those which follow 
from the district of the Trossachs and Loch Katrine, it may be in- 
ferred that his first visit to Scotland was in the summer of 1810, and 
that he was made a Member of the Associated Painters on the strength 
of the drawings he brought thence. On the break-up of that 
body, he was another of its Members who found a new home at 
Spring Gardens, where the exhibition of five works of his in 1813 
(three of Scotch subjects, and one of Richmond Castle in Yorkshire) 
was followed by his reception as a Member of our Society in the 
December of that year. Up to that season he had also sent works 
to Somerset- House. 

He had only two drawings in the exhibition of 1814,' being at 
that time engaged in preparing for the press a series of large out- 
line views 2 from his sketches among the Grampians. They were 
published that year with the following title : Scenery of the Grampian 
Mountains, ' illustrated with forty Etchings in the Soft Ground, repre- 
senting the principal hills, from such points as display their picturesque 
features ; diversified by Lakes and Rivers ; with an explanatory 
page affixed to each plate ; giving an account of those objects of 
natural curiosity and historical interest with which the district 
abounds. By George Fennel Robson, Member of the Society of 
Painters in Oil and Water Colours. The Engravings executed by 
Henry Morton from original drawings made on the spot by the 
Author. London, Published by the Author, No. 13 Caroline Street, 
Bedford Square, and may be had of Sherwood, Neely & Jones, 
Paternoster Row. 1814.' The work was dedicated to the Duke of 
Athole, and published by subscription. There was also a reprint, 
coloured, in 1819. 

From that time he was a prolific contributor to the gallery. 
During the eight years from 1813 to 1820 he showed 161 works at 
Spring Gardens. By far the greater number are views in Scotland, 
generally in the Perthshire Highlands ; for which, no doubt, in many 
cases, his published outlines furnished the skeleton. The chord 
which had been struck by Walter Scott, when, through the publica- 

1 He had also two in the ' scratch ' exhibition got up that year in Bond Street, and before 
mentioned. 

* About gx 15 inches. 



Ci'. iv LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 357 

tion of his ' Lady of the Lake,' he first laid open to the readers of 
poetry the charms of Loch Katrine, was responded to in the world 
of art through Robson's landscapes. With these he mingled fine 
views of his native Durham. In the'years 1818 and 1819 he had a 
large number of scenes on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, 
and in 1820 his subjects show that he has been sketching in North 
Wales. 

By that time his zeal in the Society's service had been acknow- 
ledged by his election, at the Anniversary Meeting of 30 Nov. 1819, 
as President for the ensuing year. 

Of HENRY C. ALLPORT little has been gleaned beyond the facts 
which appear in the Society's records. Possibly he was the ' cousin 
Allport ' who helped David Cox to become a painter. He lived at 
the small village of Aldridge, between Lichfield and Birmingham ; 
and he may, likely enough, have been a friend, and possibly a pupil, 
of Glover's, who came from the former city. A similarity in his 
workmanship, and the fact that he was elected a Member on 
8 January, 1818, to fill the vacancy caused by that artist's retirement, 
tend to confirm the supposition. He had three local landscapes at 
the Royal Academy in 1811 and 1812 ; and he began to exhibit with 
the Oil and Water Colour Society in 1813. Between that year and 1 820 
he had twenty-two works at Spring Gardens. They are mostly views 
of stock subjects, in North Wales, at the Lakes of England, and among 
the abbeys of Yorkshire. In 1819 he has the first of some half-dozen 
Italian views, nearly all of Tivoli, which may, but do not necessarily, 
imply foreign travel. He painted with great delicacy and high finish, 
an eye for atmospheric gradation, and some largeness in general 
effect. A drawing of ' Conway Castle' (16^x23! inches), dated 
1816, and exhibited in 1819, which justifies this estimate, was 
bought for the British Museum from Dr. Percy's collection in April 
1890. 

WILLIAM WALKER was another of the disjecta membra of the 
Bond Street body. His name is in its original list. He sent ten 
works to its exhibition in 1808, and thirty-five in all to its gallery, to 
which he contributed every year till its final close in 1812. He had 
been a Member all through, and was one of the responsible directors 
in the last two seasons. He was born at Hackney on the 5th of July, 



358 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 I;K. v 

1780,' and was a pupil of Robert Smirke, R.A. In 1803 he went to 
Greece to study architectural remains. Pictures by him in oil (' views 
in Corfu, Castro, and the Acropolis of Athens ') are said to have been 
much noticed about i8o5. a Beyond these facts, we are again left to 
depend mainly upon the evidence of exhibition catalogues for the 
history of his life. 

The drawings, or paintings, at Brook Street and Bond Street with 
the above name, comprised views in Greece and Italy, with some seats 
on the Thames. Walker began to exhibit at Spring Gardens in 1813, 
with two views in or near London, and sent thither on an average 
two or three works a year till 1820, as an ' outsider.' None of these 
were of foreign subjects until 1816, when, beginning with a ' Pont-du- 
Gard,' on the way, he carries us to the Mediterranean, and once more 
to Greece. Probably he had gone abroad again in 1815, to renew an 
old acquaintance, interrupted by the recommencement of war, after 
the broken peace of Amiens. He was, for many years after, connected 
with the Water-Colour Society as an Associate. 

One lady member has to be added under the category of Land- 
scape. Miss HARRIETT GOULDSMITH was one of three Members 3 
who floated in and out of the Society with the oil element. She 
painted in that material, as well as in water-colours. She had begun 
to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1809, and when she joined our 
Society was about twenty-five years of age. In the Spring Gardens 
exhibitions of 1813-1820 she had between thirty and forty works, all 
of the landscape class, except one or two studies of game. Many are 
simply called in the catalogue ' Landscape ' or ' Study from Nature.' 
Among the rest are not a few which have now a topographic interest 
for Londoners, as presenting the contemporary aspect of its environs 
of Marylebone, St. John's Wood, and the Paddington Canal. There 
was a portrait of her by Holmes in the exhibition of 1819. In that 
year she had four views of Claremont, the seat of her then late Royal 
Highness the Princess Charlotte, whose death on the $thof November, 
1817, had been so universally bewailed. Of these she published a 
set of etchings in the same year, 1819. Pyne, in the following (rather 
clumsy) passage, speaks well of Miss Gouldsmith's art : ' There is, in 

1 See Dr. Percy's MS. Catalogue, at the British Museum. 

2 Redgrave's Dictionary, first edition. 

3 The others were Linnell and Holmes. 



CH iv LANDSCAPE ; AND THE RISING SCHOOL 359 

all the works we have seen of her pencil, an original feeling which is 
free from mannerism, or affectedness of style. Indeed, the same 
simplicity of form, light, shadow and colour pervades the scenes 
which she has chosen as the objects of her imitation, that are found 
to exist in nature, and which indeed constitute the most pleasing 
combinations in art." ' 

1 Somerset House Gazette, ii. 385. 



360 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 



CHAPTER V 
ACKERMANN ; AND SOME OF HIS DRAFTSMEN 

Rudolph Ackermann ' Repository of Arts ' Publications Works for amateurs Archi- 
tectural prints and draftsmen Biographies continued to PuginWild F. Nash 
Mackenzie Uwins. 

INSEPARABLE from the history of water-colour art as connected with 
engraving, in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, is the name 
of Rudolph Ackermann, who for more than thirty years carried on the 
business of a publisher and dealer in works of art at No. 101 Strand, 
and was a sort of later Boydell to the class of artists with whom we 
are concerned. The house he occupied now forms a portion of 
'Simpson's' restaurant and the 'Cigar Divan.' In Ackermann's time 
it rejoiced in the designation of the ' Repository of Arts.' He was a 
German by birth or descent, and spoke with a foreign accent. 
During the last years of the century he had practised as a coach- 
designer, one of his achievements in that line having been a state 
carriage for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1790. For about five 
years previously to his occupation of the house above mentioned, he 
had been established at No. 96, to which site the firm returned in the 
year 1827. In 1796 he bought the lease of No. 101, and opened a 
drawing academy in a large room there, employing three masters, one 
for the figure, one for landscape, and the third for architecture. The 
room thus occupied (65 x 30 feet in area, by 24 high) had been used 
for various purposes, but was originally employed for one similar to 
his own. It stood ' on the site of a part of the courtyard in front of 
which was Beaufort House,' which, after it ceased to be the residence 
of the Beaufort family, had been converted into the Fountain Tavern. 1 
Here it was that William Shipley had set up his celebrated school, 
where Cosway and Wheatlcy and William Pars had been pupils, and 

1 Traces of these names and sites are being fast obliterated. ' Fountain Court ' is now 
' Savoy Buildings ;' and while the above lines were being written, a house that had stood 
there for nearly three centuries swooned and fell, at the touch of the builders of Terry's 
Theatre, which now occupies its place. (See Standard, 28 March, 1887.) 



CH. V ACKERMANN ; AND SOME OF HIS DRAFTSMEN 361 

where Henry Pars, succeeding Shipley, had vainly endeavoured to 
induce the skittish Pyne to draw in chalks. 1 In another part of the 
building a fencing school was carried on at the same time under Mr. 
Welch, an eminent professor of that art ; and later on, the walls had 
rung to the oratory of John Thelwall, ' political agitator, anatomist, 
lecturer on elocution, and curer of stammering,' 2 who was tried for 
treason with Home Tooke, and whose removal by Government made 
room for Ackermann at 101 Strand. The new school which he set 
up was carried on for about ten years, when it gave place to a more 
varied business, which had been in course of development under the 
same roof. In or about 1800 he established a repository there for the 
manufacture and sale of light and fanciful works of minor art, which 
gave profitable employment to a large number of such persons as 
could bring a moderate amount of taste to the market. It was said 
that during the great influx of French emigres, Ackermann ' had 
seldom less than fifty nobles, priests, and ladies of distinction, at work 
upon screens, card racks, flower stands, and other ornamental fancy 
works of a similar nature.' 3 

On giving up the school, he continued in another way to aid the 
work of education in art, by setting up the practice of lending 
drawings to copy, on the plan of a circulating library. He had also 
embarked in a course of publication of prints designed expressly as 
models for students. There is at the British Museum a little book of 
twenty-four small octavo pages, published at 101 Strand, apparently 
in 1 80 1, 4 entitled, A Treatise on Ackermann 's Superfine Water-Colours, 
' with directions to prepare and use them, including succinct hints on 
drawing and painting,' wherein aspirants of the brush are exhorted 
to. study Turner and Girtin and Westall ; and, avoiding the seduc- 
tions of Gainsborough's blottesque, to profit by the ' pleasant ' unreali- 
ties of Payne, and the admitted merits of Cooper 5 and Laporte. At 
the end are two pages of advertisements, setting forth a list of prints 
for such study, after Girtin, Payne, and others, including our old 
friend W. H. Pyne. These and similar series were now followed up 
with more systematic works on elementary art for amateurs, among 
which those of Samuel Prout, above described, stand pre-eminent. 

1 Supra, p. 138. 

2 Allibone's Dictionary of Authors. * Repository of Arts, i. 54. 

4 The date is revealed by a notice of two of Turner's pictures exhibited that year. See 
pp. 6, 7. 

5 Richard Cooper was drawing master at Eton, and to the Princess Charlotte. 



362 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

In 1809 our enterprising painter, publisher, teacher, and fancy 
stationer, set up likewise as a journalist ; and began the monthly 
issue of a periodical work in octavo form, bearing in part the same 
title as his establishment in the Strand, namely : The Repository of 
Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, and Politics. It was begun 
' as a ladies' magazine which should be to them what the " Gentleman's 
Magazine " had been to the other sex contained fashions which the 
war rendered unattainable from Paris, and offered subjects which 
ladies could read without being ashamed of the red-covered pam- 
phlet.' ' This work was continued for the next twenty years, in three 
successive series. The monthly numbers were made up into a volume 
half-yearly. The first series, of fourteen such volumes, extends from 
1809 to 1815 ; the second, also of fourteen, from 1816 to 1822 ; and 
the third, of twelve, from 1823 to i828. 2 These volumes contain a 
valuable current record of artistic matters, and are copiously illustrated 
with coloured aquatints and engravings. In the first series there are 
566 such plates; 168 being of fashions in dress, 93 exterior and 
interior views of buildings, principally in London, and 74 designs for 
furniture &c. ; and the illustrations of subsequent volumes comprise 
also foreign views, gentlemen's seats, and architectural designs. Among 
the artists largely employed either with pencil or pen in their various 
departments were W. H. Pyne, J. B. Papworth, A. Pugin, T. Row- 
landson, and T. Uwins, with whose names the reader is, or will be, 
more or less familiar. 

In addition to the ' Repository ' and the publications referred to, 
designed both to aid and to record the development of our native 
arts, particularly those of drawing in pencil and water-colours, there 
issued from the house of Ackermann a series of illustrated works, 
complete in themselves, of a less technical character arid more general 
interest, some purely entertaining, and others conveying useful his- 
torical information. In these, the firm became the chief promoters of 
a style of illustration wherein advantage was taken of the peculiar 
adaptability of the aquatint process of engraving to the production of 
coloured prints. The development of colour-printing as now practised 
had to await the introduction of lithography. But in that earlier 
time, as the soft-ground etching preceded drawing on stone for prints 

1 Papworth MS. 

2 A new series, called Ackermann's Repository of Fashion, was begun on I Jan. 1829, 
at two shillings monthly ; but it contains nothing but fashions, and only lasted till the follow- 

'ing September. 



CH. v ACKERMANN ; AND SOME OF HIS DRAFTSMEN 363 

in imitation of chalk, so were engravings, hand-tinted upon impressions 
from aquatint plates, the correlative of the modern ' chromo,' Many 
also of Ackermann's hand-coloured prints were engraved in the 
stipple or dotted manner ; for example, the very pretty fashion-plates 
in the ' Repository.' This comparatively simple process of colouring 
prints must be distinguished from the more costly, but not necessarily 
more effective, one of printing in coloured inks, as formerly practised 
both with stipple and mezzotint plates. 1 The art or occupation of 
colouring prints (pursued in earlier days by Girtin and Turner at 
Raphael Smith's) was very busily carried on at Ackermann's esta- 
blishment in the Strand. It was employed in the production of various 
works, among which the caricatures of Rowlandson are perhaps the 
most widely known. 

In its application to architectural topography, this mode of 
illustration was conspicuously successful in a series of works, which 
come before us as mainly the produce of a little group of artists 
emanating from our Society. One of these has already been specially 
mentioned. 2 Its complete title is, 'Microcosm of London \ or, London 
in Miniature ; the Architecture by A. Pugin, the Manners and Customs 
by Thomas Rowlandson.' It contains 104 well-coloured plates jointly 
designed by these artists, and aquatinted by Bluck, Hill, Stadler, and 
Sunderland. It forms three quarto volumes, including descriptive 
letterpress, and was originally issued in twenty-six monthly parts, 
each containing four plates, from i January, 1808, to I May, 1810. 
As the title implies, the subjects are not confined to buildings re- 
markable for architectural beauty or pretension, but chosen rather to 
represent the life as well as the topographical aspect of the metropolis. 
It was scarcely possible that, in the hands of Rowlandson, individual 
figures should be free from exaggeration ; but his always artistic 
grouping, combined with Pugin's accurate and tasteful architectural 
drawing, form a very effective whole ; embodying in a general view 
the busy world of London in the days that ushered in the Regency. 
The views comprise both interiors and exteriors of buildings, and 
places of business, amusement, and public resort, among which the 
following are of special interest to the historian of British Art. Plate \. 
Life Academy, Somerset House, I January, 1808. Plate 2. Exhibition 

See a description of the old methods and analysis of the effects on the impressions, in 
Tuer's Bartolozzi and his Works, ii. 21-23. 
2 Supra, pp. 228, 231 . 



364 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 DK. V 

Room, Somerset House, I January, 1808. Plate 6. Christie's Auction 
Room, I February, 1808. Plate 13. British Institution, Pall Mall, 
I April, 1808. Plate 34. Exhibition of 'Water-Coloured' Drawings, 
Old Bond Street, i September, 1808. Plate 71. Society of Arts, Adclphi. 

The ' Microcosm ' was followed in the years immediately .suc- 
ceeding by several elaborate works of a more strictly architectural 
character, in which the plates were nearly all designed by artists who 
were at the same time exhibiting at Spring Gardens. Indeed, many 
of their drawings there were made expressly for the plates in question. 
The chief of these publications were the following : ' History of the 
Abbey CJiurch of Westminster, its Antiquities and Monuments,' two 
vols. 4to, 1812. Among the eighty-one coloured aquatint plates are 
thirty-two after Mackenzie, and seventeen after Pugin (besides three 
in which one or both contribute to the design), and five after Uwins ; 
the remainder being by White, Huet-Villiers, Shepherd, and Thomp- 
son. ' History of the University of Oxford, its Colleges, Halls, and 
Public Buildings,' two vols. 4to, 1814. Among the plates there are, 
in aquatint coloured, after Pugin 30, Mackenzie 19, Westall 8, Nash 7, 
Turner of Oxford I ; the remainder being portraits of founders, &c. 
With the above are seventeen plates of costumes of Members of the 
University. 'History of the University of Cambridge, its Colleges, 
Halls, and Public Buildings,' two vols. 4to, 1815. Among the coloured 
aquatint plates there are, after Pugin 21, Westall 21, Mackenzie 20, 
and Pyne I, and the 15 plates of costumes are designed by Uwins. 
History of the Colleges of Winchester, Eton, and Westminster ; ic'nli 
the Charterhouse and the Schools of St. Paul's, Merchant Taylors', 
Harrow, Rugby, and Christ's Hospital, 4to, 1816. In this, including 
four costume subjects by Uwins, there are 47 coloured plates, after 
Westall 15, Pugin 14, Mackenzie 13, and Gendal i. Of the same 
class was Pyne's elaborate work, already particularly mentioned, viz. : 
' The History of the Royal Residences of Windsor Castle, St. James's 
Palace, Carlton House, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, Bucking- 
ham House, and Frogmore,' three vols. 4to, 1819. But, as above men- 
tioned, this was published, not by Ackermann, but by Pyne himself. 
A few of the plates are dated 1816. The several artist draftsmen 
contribute subjects in the following proportion : Wild 59, J. Stcphanoff 
20, I. P. Stephanoff"4, Westall 6, R. Cattermole 6, G. Samuel i. 

The series of drawings of Westminster Abbey were treated by the 
publisher with extraordinary respect. He had the whole inlaid in 



CH. v ACKERMANN ; AND SOME OF HIS DRAFTSMEN 365 

folio vellum and bound by Herring in a superb volume ; and, in 
another, the letterpress printed on vellum. Pyne tells us that the 
' ponderous covers ' were of crimson velvet and silver chased work 
designed by Papworth ; and declares that ' the binding alone was 
believed to have cost nearly 3OO/.' l The designer's son gives evidence 
as to part of the expense. ' Mr. Papworth,' he writes, ' prepared a 
design with Gothic details, for the brass mountings and clasps for the 
special two volumes, which cost I2O/. ; ' and adds, 'This copy 
Ackcrmann valued so highly that he used to provide a pair of white 
kid gloves for the use of the person to whom was granted the favour 
of inspecting it' 2 

At the time of the forming of the Oil and Water Colour Society, 
Ackermann was making improvements at 101 Strand ; and on the 
1 3th of February, 1813, he opened another 'great room,' 56 x 20 feet, 
with tea-room, staircase, &c., designed by Papworth, ' as a lounge for 
visitors, and a show-room for the newest works of art of all kinds.' 3 
These were the palmy days of the Repository of Arts. In course 
of time it fell from its high estate, and within the last twenty-five years 
ceased to exist, ending, it is believed, in failure. But before then the 
arts of illustration and engraving, and the demand for graphic publica- 
tions, had entered upon new phases, and the days of coloured aqua- 
tints had long gone by. In 1827 Rudolph Ackermann removed a few 
doors westward, to the site of his early place of business at No. 96 
Strand, at the corner of Beaufort Buildings, where Papworth had built 
for him a new house, the same now occupied by Rimmell the per- 
fumer. He died in 1834, and the final decline and fall took place 
under the rule of his successors. 

The account must now be resumed of Members and Associates of 
the old Society, who had continued to exhibit their works at Spring 
Gardens ; and the several artists composing the group of architectural 
draftsmen just mentioned present themselves successively for further 
notice. 

Although the name of AUGUSTUS PuGiN had been absent but 
once from the annual catalogue, viz. in 1818, he had only as yet been 
present as an Associate and Exhibitor, and his gallery drawings had 

1 Somerset House Gazette, ii. 221. 

1 J. K. Pap-im-th, Life and Works, by W. Papworth, p. 34. 

1 Life of Papum-th. 



366 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

amounted to no more than fifty-five in number since his first appear- 
ance in 1807. But these drawings, admirable as they no doubt were, 1 
and indicating, as they did, the nature of his professional pursuits, did 
not at all represent his chief industry, or the quantity of work lie was 
then performing. His share in the ' Microcosm ' alone would have 
entitled him to be regarded as one of Ackermann's chief draftsmen. 
And that the character of his art was already otherwise known to the 
public appears by some introductory praise of his ' uncommon accu- 
racy and elegant taste' as 'displayed in former productions.' There 
is an earlier print from his design, in the first volume (1809) of the 
' Repository,' representing the interior of Ackermann's own shop, pre- 
fixed to an historical account of the establishment. It is etched, aqua- 
tinted, and coloured in the usual way, and here too the figures are by 
Rowlandson. And we know that Pugin was engaged on his drawings 
for the ' Westminster Abbey ' while the ' Microcosm ' was in course of 
publication. 

A drawing of the Library at Cassiobury, exhibited in 1811, may 
have been made for a work on which Pugin was engaged, in conjunc- 
tion with J. M. W. Turner, for the Earl of Essex. 2 He was also 
preparing, on his own account, a series of views in Islington and 
Pentonville, brought out a few years later. 3 This northern suburb 
had a natural interest for him, being at that time the headquarters 
of the royalist emigrants from France. It had also a further personal 
attraction ; for, while engaged in making his sketches there, he be- 
held and was smitten by ' the belle of Islington,' Miss Catherine 
Welby, daughter ' of a distinguished barrister and a relative of Sir 
William Welby, Bart, of Denton Hall, Lincolnshire ; ' and 'his gentle- 
manly demeanour and persevering suit ' having prevailed over family 
objections to his less exalted position in society, he married her at 
St. Mary's Church. 4 

In June 1812, Pugin, as we have seen, was raised to the rank of 
Member of the first Society of Painters in Water-Colours, but only 

1 Ferrey mentions as being ' well known as creditable pictures of the earlier exhibitions ' 
Pugin's ' beautiful drawings of the interior of the Hall of Christ Church, Oxford ' (1814), ' of 
Westminster Abbey' (1810-13), ' an d St. Paul's' (1807), 'with many views of Lincoln' 
(1808-29). (Recollections of the Pugins, p. 7.) 

2 Kerrey's Recollections of the Pugins, p. IO. 

3 A Series of Views in Islington and Pentomiillt. Descriptions by E. Brayley. Thirty- 
two plates, royal 410. (London, 1819. ) Didot (Nouvelle Biographic Gmerale) gives the d.itc 
1813. 

4 Ferrey's Recollections of the Putins, pp. $, 6. 



CH. v ACKERMANN ; AND SOME OF HIS DRAFTSMEN 367 

in time to see it collapse and give place to the ' Oil-and- Water,' 
wherein he was only an Exhibitor, without a share in the concern. 
Then came the series of architectural works published by Ackermann, 
his share wherein has been above stated. 

He had not, however, discontinued to work for, or in conjunction 
with, John Nash. Until 1812, Nash had been chiefly engaged in 
building large mansions for the aristocracy in a pseudo-Gothic style, 
which was anterior to the Puginesque period. Those identified with 
the name of Nash were 'imitations of conventual and castellated 
buildings, exhibiting every kind of incongruity perpetrated in exten- 
sive masses of cement or terra-cotta.' ' In 1812 he was making his 
plans for Regent's Park and Regent Street, and in 1815 was appointed 
Inspector of Buildings, &c. 2 In these employments he largely enjoyed 
the patronage of the Prince Regent, which continued after his Royal 
Highness had mounted the throne in 1820 as King George the Fourth, 
and culminated in the building of the Pavilion at Brighton and 
Buckingham Palace. The execution of some of his Court commis- 
sions was aided by the exercise of our artist's unerring pencil. 

To this connexion may doubtless be set down an interruption of 
the series of Oxford and Cambridge views which Pugin was sending 
to Spring Gardens, by a group in 1816 of three drawings of the ball 
and supper rooms at ' White's Fete ' in Burlington House and Gardens, 
which appears to have been honoured by the presence of the Heir 
Apparent. And in 1820 a series commences of drawings of the 
various rooms in the Brighton Pavilion. The book, for which these 
drawings were made at Nash's request, and the coloured engravings 
in which were also superintended by Pugin, was at first a privately 
printed work which the King had commanded the builder to prepare 
for presentation as a souvenir to royal guests. Ferrey relates that 
while Pugin was making sketches in the building, the King passed 
by, and having accidentally upset the painter's colour-box, stopped 
and picked it up with an expression of apology. This, which in a 
less exalted personage might have been passed over as a natural act, 
is recorded by the biographer as a noteworthy example of royal con- 
descension. 3 

Nash, however, did a much greater service to Pugin by his advice, 
and through him to the cause of art, than he ever could do by employ- 

1 Ferrey's Recollections of the Pugins, p. 25. 

* Didot's Nouvelle Biographie Genirale. _ * Recollections of the Pugins, pp. 8, 9. 



363 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

ing him in the illustration of the architect's own works. In the course 
of his practice in building castellated mansions, he had felt the want of 
works of ancient Gothic architecture, containing illustrations of details 
of sufficient accuracy for a builder to work by, and he advised Pugin 
to attempt the supply of such a want. It was a task for which his 
observant eye and careful hand, guided by good architectural know- 
ledge, pre-eminently fitted him, and he resolved to undertake it. But 
it was necessary to travel in search of specimens and make elaborate 
drawings on the spot. To aid him in collecting materials, he ' sought 
and readily obtained ' pupils, and with them made sketching excur- 
sions in various parts of the country. Thanks in part to Nash's re- 
commendation, Pugin's office was soon regarded as the best school 
for young architects to learn drawing in, together with a good know- 
ledge of the Gothic. The work in which he and they were engaged 
was conducted on a different principle and with a different object 
from the architectural publications in course of issue by John Britton, 
and between the disciples of the two there was no small rivalry. 1 
Pugin's views of old buildings were not to be picturesque antiquities 
or ' beauties ' of the country, but Specimens of Gothic Architecture. 
Under that title a collection of sixty-one plates, etched by F. Mac- 
kenzie and A. Pugin, of ' Doors, Windows, Buttresses, Pinnacles, and 
with the measurements, selected from ancient buildings at Oxford, 
&c.,' was published in or about the year i8i6. 2 The plates are, how- 
ever, undated. This work was an immediate success as the first of 
its kind, and it was followed by others which established the reputa- 
tion of Pugin as the pioneer and leader of the Gothic revival in this 
country. 3 

While Pugin was thus labouring in the service of architecture, he 
was incidentally aiding the progress of the school of water-colour 
painting ; for several of the pupils who came to him as students of 
the one profession left him to practise the other with credit and 
success. Among them were Joseph Nash (long a Member of the 
Water-Colour Society), W. Lake Price (for some years an Associate), 
George Belton Moore, and J. T. D'Egville. And of the professional 

1 Dickens's Life of C. J. Afathews, i, 41. Pugin did, however, contribute two plates of 
York to the Cathedral Antiquities, 1819, and afterwards worked in collaboration with Britton. 

2 This is the date given by the late E. J. Willson, in a prefatory article to the second 
series of Examples of Gothic Architecture, published in 1836 after Pugin's death. See below 
as to Mr. Willson's claim to have originated the plan of the Specimens. 

3 See Ferrey's Recollections of the Fugins, p. 25 ; and M. B. Adams on Architectural 
Illustrations (1877), p. 7. 




CH. v ACKERMANN; AND SOME OF HIS DRAFTSMEN 369 

architects whom he trained, his biographer Benjamin Ferrey, and T. 
Talbot Bury, may be named as especially noted for their skill with 
the pencil. It was in May 1819 that Charles J. Mathews, son of 
Pugin's old friend the actor, and destined so long to tread the stage 
in his father's footsteps, came to him as a pupil for four years ; and 
both Mathews and Ferrey have given a pleasant account of their 
' delightful instructor, strict enough and firm enough, in business hours, 
to command obedience and respect, at other times all gaiety and good 
humour, making himself quite the companion of his pupils, and joining 
in all their amusements with the ardour of a boy ; ' how his genial 
presence, his quaint sayings, full of meaning, the impassioned manner 
of his recitals, and the way in which he would stimulate his pupils' 
perseverance by anecdotes of his friend Nash's early career, all de- 
livered with his comical French accent, were a relief to a very severe 
discipline exercised over them by the now matronly 'belle of Islington;' 
and, finally, how the time was agreeably varied by constant sketching 
'excursions to York, Oxford, Windsor, Winchester, Lincoln, Cambridge' 
Salisbury, and other places of pictorial and architectural interest, in 
search of examples for Pugin's publication.' ' 

Pugin had been living for the last ten years near Russell Square, 
at 39 Keppel Street from 1810 to 1816, and now at 34 Store Street. 
He was unanimously re-elected a full Member of our Society on the 
5th of July, 1820. 

CHARLES WILD, who, it will be recollected, made his first appear- 
ance two years after Pugin, namely in 1809, as a practitioner in the 
same branch of art, had also, like him, mainly devoted his talents to 
spreading a knowledge of Gothic architecture by means of prints. 
The following works, executed from his designs, had already been 
published : Twelve perspective views of the exterior and interior parts 
of the Metropolitan Church of CANTERBURY, 410, 1807. Twelve per- 
spective views of the exterior and interior parts of the Cathedral of 
YORK, folio, 1809. An Illustration of the Architecture of the Cathedral 
Church of Chester, royal 4to, 1813. An Illustration of the Architecture 
of the Cathedral Church of Lichfield, royal 4to, 1813. An Illustration 
of the Architecture and Sculpture of the Cathedral Church of Lincoln 
fifteen or sixteen large plates, folio, 1819. This is the most important 

1 Dickens's Life of Charles J. Matheius, \. 41, 44 ; Kerrey's Rcc Medians of the Putins, 

pp. IO, 12, 26-30. 

15 B 



370 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

of his published works. He was also engaged upon another of 
the series: An Illustration of the Architecture and Sculpture of the 
Cathedral Church of WORCESTER, folio, 1823. Nearly all the fifty-two 
drawings which he had exhibited in our gallery were connected with 
these works, except in 1813 and 1816, when his name is absent, and 
in 1817 and 1818, when his pencil was devoted to the illustrations of 
Pyne's Royal Residences ; of the drawings for which book he sent a 
round dozen to the Spring Gardens show. These were accompanied 
by a smaller number of the same series, drawn by J. Stephanoff and 
R. Cattermole, and must have formed one of the features of the 
exhibition of 1818. 

He had not remained a Member of the Society ; but was re- 
elected shortly afterwards, namely on the I2th of February, 1821. 

To complete the group of able architectural draftsmen who 
exhibited works in the Spring Gardens gallery, the names of Nas/i 
and Mackenzie must be placed by the side of Pugin and Wild. That 
of Samuel Prout, skilful artist as he had shown himself to be, does 
not yet come under the same category. 

During the changes of 1812, FREDERICK NASH had ceased to be 
a Member, and he had exhibited only four times since, seventeen 
works in all. In the first year they had been drawings for Acker- 
mann's Oxford; and in the last, for a series of beautiful line en- 
gravings to illustrate a book, published in 1819-1823, in two quarto 
volumes, with the title, Picturesque Views of the City of Paris and its 
Environs. After 1813, Nash was absent from the gallery for three 
years. In 1816 he went to Switzerland and the Vale of Chamounix, 
and made some studies of the principal Swiss lakes, &c. For he was 
not merely a copier of buildings. His great. delight was to draw and 
colour from nature ; and he and De Wint, who was about two years 
his junior, were frequent fellow-sketchers in the earlier time of both 
artists. But architectural drawing was still his forte. A second of 
his important views of the interior of Westminster Abbey, ' with 
Monks,' is ascribed to the year 1818. It was bought by Mr. Allnutt, 
of Clapham, for I2S/., after Nash had refused 100 guineas for it from 
Ackermann. 1 This does not appear to have been exhibited. He 
had nothing that year at the Spring Gardens rooms. 

It was during the period above referred to that most of his 
1 J. J. J. MSS. 



CH. v ACKERMANN ; AND SOME OF HIS DRAFTSMEN 371 

drawings for the Society of Antiquaries were made. They are 
engraved as illustrations to the Vetusta Monuinenta, and comprise 
eleven copper-plates of Glastonbury and ten of the Tower of London 
(dated 1813 and 1815) in vol. iv., and ten of Malmesbury Abbey 
(1816), seven of the Temple Church (1818), and fourteen of Tewkesbury 
Abbey (1821), together with seven lithographs of St. Mary's Abbey, 
York (1829), in vol. v. The copper-plates were engraved by James 
Basire, and of these the original drawings are in the Society's posses- 
sion. The lithographs were printed, two by Hullmandel, and five by 
Engelmann & Co., and appear to have been drawn on the stone by 
Nash himself. 

In 1819 he began his sketches of Paris. In these drawings he 
developed a fresh style, which renders them scarcely recognizable as 
by the same hand that produced the grand and sombre Gothic interiors 
in which he had first displayed his great power. These Paris views 
belong more to the category of modern landscape. They are light in 
touch, pleasant and even gay in colour, convey an impression of 
luminous summer air, and are treated in a manner altogether appro- 
priate to the more lively nature of their subjects. In this sequence of 
styles Nash was so fortunate as to please two successive occupants 
of the chair of the Royal Academy. President West had praised 
the severer beauty of his abbey interior ; and now, after these newer 
drawings, for which the artist had received 500 guineas, had been duly 
engraved, they were bought by Sir Thomas Lawrence for 25O/. 1 Nash 
had only seventeen drawings at the Oil and Water Colour Gallery. 

FREDERICK MACKENZIE, though he afterwards rejoined the 
Society, and was for many years a valuable Member, did not retain 
the Membership conferred on him in 1813 for more than four. During 
that period he showed twenty-nine works at Spring Gardens. They 
were nearly all views of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, 
executed for the Histories of the Universities in course of publication 
by Ackermann, to which, as noted above, he was a large contributor. 
Then his name disappears from the catalogue until 1820, when he 
sends to the gallery, as an Exhibitor, two views of Yorkshire ruins, 
drawn, no doubt, for the series of Abbeys and Castles in Yorkshire, 
commenced that year in aquatint, in conjunction with William 

1 They were not in Sir Thomas's sale; but they seem to have been dispersed, and one 
(' The Waterworks at Versailles ') may be seen at South Kensington. 



r. 2 



372 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813 1820 BK. v 

Westall, as aforesaid. He was five or six and twenty when he joined 
the Society as a Member on the 4th of February, 1813. 

This distinguished draftsman was the son of a linendraper named 
Thomas Mackenzie ; and a pupil of John Adey Repton, architect, a 
son of Humphrey Repton, celebrated as a landscape gardener. This 
J. A. Repton had been assistant to John Nash, as was also his brother, 
John Stanley Repton, pupil of Augustus Pugin, who, as we know, 
worked for Nash too. The builder of Regent Street was an important 
man in his day. 

Frederick Mackenzie had already been an exhibitor at the Royal 
Academy in 1804 and 1809. He had also published a set of Etcliings 
of Landscapes for the Use of Students in 1812. His pencil was, how- 
ever, from the first, chiefly employed in architectural and topographic 
drawing for the press ; his earliest engagements of this kind being 
with Britton, the patron of Samuel Prout and of so many draftsmen 
of this class, when the century was in its teens. This introduction of 
Mackenzie's talent to the world, and the happy union thereof with 
that of the engravers John and Henry Le Keux, were indeed among 
the proudest achievements of Britton's tact and good taste. Early 
plates after Mackenzie may be met with in the Beauties of England 
and Wales ; and he contributed twenty-five designs to the Architectural 
Antiquities of Great Britain (two in vol. i. published 1807, and twenty- 
three in vol. ii. published 1809). At the time when he joined the 
Society he must have been most assiduous in his work, for not only 
was he engaged upon his drawings for Ackermann's publications, but 
he was supplying nearly all the illustrations of Salisbury Cathedral, 
the first instalment of Britton's Cathedral Antiquities. In that series, 
continued through the whole of this period, fifty-eight of the plates 
are after Mackenzie's delineations. 1 In the same period he was, as we 
have seen, a collaborator with Pugin in the Specimens of Gothic 
Architecture. In R. Havell and son's Noblemen's and Gentlemen's 
Seats, ' Longleat ' and ' King's Weston ' (by C. V. Fielding) are after 
sketches by F. Mackenzie, and dated 1816, and ' Burghley House' 

(1819) is drawn by him. 

The artist of whom an account has next to be rendered does not 
belong to the architectural group, but was another of the draftsmen 

1 Salisbury (published 1814-15) has iS, Norwich (1816) 9, York (1819) 16, Lichfield 

(1820) 13, and Oxford (1^21) 2. 



CH. v ACKERMANN ; AND SOME OF HIS DRAFTSMEN 373 

largely employed by Ackermann. THOMAS UwiNS was a Member 
after the changes of 1812, and remained so until December 1818, 
when he retired under circumstances to be explained in the sequel. 
He was then beginning to extend the range of his subjects, but still in 
the first part of a career separable into two distinct periods. Until 
1818, after his first visit to the Continent, his exhibits had continued 
to represent the staple of his artistic produce. Numbering 95 frames- 
(from 1809 to 1818), some of which contained several small designs, 
they comprise illustrations from standard novels, tales, and poetic fic- 
tion ; rustic pieces in plenty ; one or two more ambitious historic 
subjects ; and latterly portraits also. In such works as an interior of 
Westminster Abbey with prebends and choristers (1813), Commemora- 
tion time in the Theatre, Oxford (1814), and a sketch of a meeting of 
the Bible Society at Freemasons' Hall (1818), he had sometimes to 
grapple with larger assemblages of figures. The first two connect 
themselves with his works for Ackermann, that is to say with the 
Westminster Abbey and the University of Oxford, 1 for which latter 
book and the contemporary one on the University of Cambridge he 
drew the costumes as above mentioned. 

Uwins paid a visit to the English Lakes in 1815; but two sketches, 
' A Westmorland Wife ' and a ' Cottage at Loughrigg,' were all the 
gain that it produced to the gallery. 

In 1818 he exhibits for the first time the result of his foreign 
sketching, in a couple of peasant studies from the vineyards of St. 
Julien in Medoc. As early as 1811, when at Farnham in Surrey, he 
had been struck with the picturesque material to be found in the 
English hop gardens. ' It is,' he wrote, ' a most delightful scene, and 
is, from beginning to end, full of picture. . . . What the gathering the 
vintage on the Continent may be, I cannot say.' 2 The produce of 
that year's study had supplied him with some subjects in nearly all 
the subsequent exhibitions ; and now that the Continent was open, he 
had sallied forth to satisfy his curiosity on the latter point. In or 
before August 1817, he went to France, in high spirits, delighted with 
the two days' and nights' journey to Paris, the novelty of every object, 
the variety of character and manners, and the ' excessive beauty of 
the costume, changing at every district ' through which the diligence 

1 There is one plate after Uwins in the ' Oxford ' volume of Britton's Cathedral Anti- 
quities, 1821. 

'' Memoir of Uwins, i. 35. 



374 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 UK. v 

passed. After spending a month or more in Paris, which seemed to 
him ' the most picturesque place in the world,' he proceeded to Bor- 
deaux, where he arrived late in September, and was most hospitably 
entertained by M. Cabareuss, of St. Julien, one of the leading vine- 
growers in Medoc, to whom he brought letters of introduction from a 
good friend of the arts, Mr. Solly, of Ormond Street. He had been 
disappointed with the close-cut vines of Burgundy, and the unpic- 
turesque peasantry of that grape district. In Medoc, he said, ' I found 
the vineyards similar to what I had seen everywhere else ; but the 
very first day that the vintage began, I saw its capability, and com- 
posed my picture. From that time to the end of the vintage of 
Mddoc, I was at work, following the vendangeurs, from six in the 
morning till the day declined. It was a common thing to observe of 
me, that I worked more than the vendangeurs themselves.' 

It was pleasant to find that, as an artist, he was treated everywhere 
with a degree of respect, contrasting brightly with his status at home. 
1 1 know the time,' he wrote, ' when in England 1 have put in practice 
all the art of which I was capable, to conceal from my companions 
that I was an artist ; ' a kind of ars celare artem which was needless 
in France. The method of study to which he resorted appears never- 
theless to have been little practised then in the land of taste. When 
he set himself to paint the rustics they avoided him as a wizard ; and 
the gentry were at a loss to understand why he wanted to draw 
peasants so minutely. In the course of his travel, however, he made 
good use of his facility in likeness-taking to paint little portraits of 
themselves as complimentary gifts to his kind entertainers.' ' Before 
returning to England, he was taken by his friends at St. Julien, in a 
fine ' English carriage ' and four, to the estates of Lafitte, Chateau- 
M argaux, Latour, and La Rose. 2 A result of Uwins's studies in the claret 
country may be seen in his oil painting of The Vintage ' in the Vernon 
Gallery. He also projected a series of half a dozen small pictures illus- 
trating the whole process and ceremonial of claret-making. But the 
two drawings or pictures in which he introduced the subjects as a 
novelty in the Exhibition of 1818 were in the last group of his contri- 
butions to our Society. 

1 One of his exhibits in 1818 is a portrait of a lady of La Rochelle. 

2 Memoir of Uunns, i. 75-83. 



375 



CHAPTER VI 

SOME FIGURE PAINTERS 

Biographies of new Exhibitors John I.innell (to 1820) Luke Clennell James Holmes 
(to 1820) James Stephattoff (to 1820) Henry Richter (to 1820). 

A NAME of note, the connexion of which with our Society is limited 
to the oil-and-water period, is that of JOHN LlNNELL. It was not as 
a painter in water-colours that he acquired his great reputation. A 
collection of sketches by him in that medium, which were on view at 
Burlington House in the Royal Academy's Winter Exhibition of 
1883, were a novelty to many persons familiar with his fine land- 
scapes in oil. The former were mostly made between 1811 and 1815, 
in the outskirts of London to the west and north-west (then country 
regions, but now covered with houses) or in Windsor Forest. A few 
were from Wales or the Isle of Wight. These are also the respective 
localities from which Linnell's landscapes at Spring Gardens were 
chiefly taken. He was about twenty when he began to exhibit 
there. For the first three years he sent landscapes and rustic pieces 
only. After that, they are accompanied by portraits, in increasing 
numbers. In 1819 he has as many of one class as of the other ; 
for he was an admirable face-painter, and in this department of art 
obtained his earlier success. It was not until after the close of his 
connexion with our Society that he began to exhibit ' subject land- 
scapes,' and developed the style which he made peculiarly his own. 

Linnell was son of a picture dealer and wood carver in Blooms- 
bury, and grandson of a West-end upholsterer, and was born in 
London in June 1792. He took to the brush young, and is said to 
have painted in oil at twelve. But there is a record of his pencillings 
some years before that. His ' earliest patron ' is said to have been 
the great connoisseur of prints, Thomas Dodd, who, according to 
Mr. Mayer, ' bought from the tiny artist his small sketches of a boat, 
or a river scene, executed in chalk on a blue ground. Linnell was 



376 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 UK. v 

eight or nine years old in 1800, but Dodd saw his talent, and was 
pleased to accompany the child on his little sketching expeditions.' ' 

Benjamin West, having cast his fatherly eye on the young aspirant, 
got him into the Academy Schools in the eventful year 1805 ; and 
in 1807 he received the medal for a drawing from the life, and had 
his first pictures hung at Somerset House. They were landscapes, 
possibly in water-colour ; for he had already received the best in- 
struction in that branch of art, having been another of John Varley's 
pupils. Linnell lived for a year under Varley's roof 2 in Broad 
Street, Golden Square, at the same time with another articled pupil, 
about two years his senior, well known in after time as William 
Hunt. The soundness of Varley's instruction is exemplified in the 
case of both pupils, by whom, writes his brother Cornelius, 3 ' he gained 
credit because they distinguished themselves without showing any 
likeness to their master.' The same may be said of a third artist, 
who profited by the same instruction, and, though somewhat older 
than either, joined them in friendly companionship, namely Varley's 
brother-in-law, 4 William Mulready, afterwards R.A. Young Linnell 
sketched with Hunt and Mulready on the banks of the Thames ; 
was employed, with the former, by George Dawe, R.A., in or about 
1807, to work upon a large transparency for an illumination to cele- 
brate a victory over the French ; 5 and was living with the latter in 
1809 in Francis Street, Tottenham Court Road. It was probably 
also about the same time that Linnell, like so many young aspirants 
of his day, partook of the generous patronage and hospitality of 
Dr. Monro on Adelphi Terrace. 

In 1809 he was with Hunt at Hastings, and in the same year had 
proved his proficiency in landscape by gaining the fifty-guinea prize 
at the British Institution with a picture of ' Removing Timber. 
The next year he showed his versatility by winning another Royal 
Academy prize (of fifty guineas) for a model from the life. He also 
worked with the graver, 6 and scraped some mezzotints of his own 
portraits. But, as above stated, it was chiefly in portrait painting 

1 Memoirs of Thos. Dodd, Wm. Ufcott, and Ceo. Stubbs, R.A. (privately printed, 
Liverpool, 1879), p. 22. 

2 LinnelPs relations with Varley in connexion with Blake have already been referred to. 
J.J.J. MS. 

4 He married Miss Elizabeth Varley, but ' the pair were early separated.' (Redgrave's 
Century of Painters, ii. 229. ) 

* Athciueum, 28 Jan. 1882, p. 131. 

lie engraved John Varley's picture of ' The Burial of Saul." 



CH. vi SOME FIGURE PAINTERS 377 

that he distinguished himself in the early part of his career. In this 
branch of art he no doubt derived profit from his close acquaintance 
with Mulready. They were young men when they both painted 
likenesses of their instructor, John Varley. Of these Linnell's was 
considered the better. Unfortunately it has perished ; but a copy, said 
to be a very good one, was made by another pupil, Mr. R. P. Noble, 1 
and has been preserved. The original, which was on ivory, passed 
into the hands of Varley's youngest daughter, Susan, who with her 
husband, Mr. George Goodban, went to reside at the Cape of Good 
Hope. There it was destroyed in a fire that caught a thatch and 
burnt a row of houses where they resided. 

Linnell had exhibited fifty-two works in all with the Society since 
he joined it in 1812-13. Some are landscapes and some portraits, 
the latter class beginning in 1816, and there being five of each in 
1819. The subjects of the former seldom claim to represent sites 
of individual interest. Wales, Derbyshire, Windsor, Hastings, and 
the Isle of Wight, are chiefly named as the localities whence their 
motives come. The portraits, with one exception (' M. Bryan, Esq. '), 
are unnamed. 2 Linnell was the Society's Treasurer for the year 
1817. 

There was, be it remembered, a third Associate elected with Cox 
and Barber, when the first Water-Colour Society was at its last gasp. 
He was an artist of considerable merit, and of some note, though he 
makes but a transient impression in this recital of events. LUKE 
CLENNELL was an able designer of rural scenes with figures, and a 
good draftsman in water-colours. He had been educated and had 
practised as an engraver on wood, and was one of Bewick's most 
distinguished pupils. A Northumbrian by birth and descent, he first 
saw the light on the 8th of April, 1781, at Ulgham, near Morpeth, 
where his father was a farmer. His first employment as a boy was 
in a grocer's shop, kept by a relation, after which for a short time he 
was placed with a tanner ; but a ' love of drawing and some attempts 
at caricature ' having ' led him into scrapes,' 3 as well as testified his 
bent, he was, on the recommendation, it is said, of a nobleman, 4 
apprenticed to Bewick in April 1797, for a term of seven years. 

1 Author of A Guide to Water-Colour Painting, published by Rowney, 1850. 

1 One is called ' Portrait of an Artist ' (1816). 

* Redgrave's Dictionary. * Dictionary of National Biogtaphy. 



378 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813-1820 BK. v 

During that period he engraved cuts for his master in S. Hodgson's 
Hive of Ancient and Modern Literature, published 1806, and Wallis 
and Scholey's History of England '; and was also employed in drawing 
on the wood, and a little in original designing. Among the tail-pieces 
to Bewick's Water-Birds are some entirely by the pupil, representing 
sea and shore scenes, and others which he copied on the block from 
designs by his fellow-pupil, R. Johnson, and also engraved. Some 
drawings that he made at this time were sold by means of a raffle to 
assist his parents, who were in some pecuniary straits. 

Having served the term of his indentures, he came to London 
in the autumn of 1804, and set up on his own account. Here he 
married a daughter of Charles Warren, the engraver. 1 In 1806 the 
gold palette of the Society of Arts was awarded to Luke Clennell for 
an engraving on wood of a battle scene. The following works of 
this period contain woodcuts by his hand : W. M. Craig's Scripture 
Illustrated; Falconer's Shipwreck, 1808 ; and, from Thurston's designs, 
Beattie's Minstrel, \ 807, and Ackermann's Religious Emblems, 1 809. 
In 1809 he received the gold medal of the Society of Arts for his 
engraving from a design by West, P.R.A., for the diploma of the 
Highland Society. But his most esteemed work as a wood engraver 
is probably his facsimile reproduction of Stothard's charming pen- 
and-ink designs in the vignettes to Rogers's Poems, 1810. After 
executing these he seems to have devoted his talent to painting and 
designing. He was a Member of the Associated Artists in 1810, 
1811, and 1812, and had works in their Bond Street gallery in these 
last three years of their existence. He was at the same time 
exhibiting at the Royal Academy. A picture of ' Foxhunters 
regaling,' shown there in 1812, was twice engraved. 2 Having migrated 
to the Society at Spring Gardens, he exhibited there too for three 
years only, in 1813, 1814, and 1815, but not as a Member. His 
drawings at the Society were chiefly figure groups of contemporary 
life in picturesque aspects, soldiers, smugglers, fishermen, country 
folk, and the crowd at a fair. In 1815 he had a sketch of ' Frost Fair,' 
held on the Thames in the winter of 1813-1814. 

He also made drawings for the copper-plate engravers. An 
effective view of ' Hornsey, Middlesex,' by him is in the Beauties of 

1 Uwins made a drawing of her before her marriage, in the character of Belphcebe in 
' The Faery Queen.' (Memoir of Thomas Uwins, i. 30.) 
* Dictionary of National Biography. 



CH. vi SOME FIGURE PAINTERS 379 

England and Wales ; a series of his washed drawings for illustra- 
tions to British Novelists, published by Sherwood & Co., are in the 
Art Library at South Kensington ; and about seventy of the plates in 
Sir Walter Scott's Border Antiquities of England and Scotland, 2 vols. 
4to, 1814, 1817, are from 'paintings by L. Clennell.' These last are 
engraved by J.Grieg. Dates on the plates extend from 1812 to 1815, 
and one of the designs is said to have been made as early as 1 803. 
In W. B. Cooke's The Thames are three plates ' after Clennell ; and 
in the same engraver's Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast, a 
number of plates, mostly vignettes, chiefly from Kent, with our 
artist's name as draftsman. Two works of his were engraved in the 
Forget-me-not, viz.: 'The Blind Piper,' 1829, and 'The Landstorm,' 
1830. In 1 8 14 he had a commission from the Earl of Bridgevvater 
for a large picture (which he was not destined to complete) of a dinner 
of the Allied Sovereigns at Guildhall. He also gained a premium of 
the British Institution for a sketch of the Life Guards' charge at 
Waterloo. This was engraved in 1819 2 by Bromley for the benefit 
of the artist's family, over whom a heavy cloud of sorrows had then 
fallen. In 1817 poor Clennell lost his reason, which never returned, 
and in 1840 he died in a lunatic asylum ; surviving his wife, whose 
mind is said to have also given way two years after he became 
insane. 3 

' As a water-colour artist,' writes Mr. Austin Dobson, 4 ' it is 
probable that he had not reached his highest point when his faculties 
failed ; but he had already exhibited a distinct ability for landscape 
and rural scenes. Fineness and delicacy are less conspicuous in hi 
work than breadth, spirit, and rapidity of handling.' 

The highest recorded price at an auction for a water-colour drawing 
by Clennell is 67 1. 4.?., which was given for a ' Ferry-boat ' (17^ x 32 in.) 
in the ' C. J. Pooley ' sale, i88o. 5 

We now come to a group of artists whose scope was more strictly 
limited to the figure than any of those above mentioned, and who 
excelled in what are usually called ' subject ' pieces. 

JAMES HOLMES had, as aforesaid, been one of the Associated 

1 One of them, dated 31 March, 1814, is a vignette representing the ' Frost Fair ' above 
mentioned. 

* Dictionary of National Biography. It was published 1 March, 1821. See Magazine 
of Fine Arts, i. 148-150. 

1 Elmes's Annals of tht Fine Arts (1818), p. 64. 

* In the Dictionary of National Biography. 5 Redford's Art Sales. 



380 THE OIL AND WATER COLOUR SOCIETY, 1813 1820 ISK. v 

Artists. He had exhibited with that body in 1 808, was a Member in 
1809, and continued to exhibit as one until their break-up in 1812. 
He had in all twenty-two pictures in their gallery, about half a dozen 
of which were portraits. He was, like Shelley, a fashionable miniature 
painter of portraits, who also exhibited subject-pieces in water-colour. 
But the latter were of a totally different class from Shelley's. There 
was nothing of the ideal about them. They had, on the contrary, a 
strong flavour of homely humour, as their titles show. 

His mission in life seems to have been fixed at his birth, in 1777. 
From earliest childhood, a pencil and paper were his chief or only 
amusement. On his leaving school, his mother, then a widow, placed 
him with the engraver, Meadows, to whom Heaphy was apprenticed 
at about the same time. Under his tuition, the pupil made such 
rapid progress that in a short time the entire management of the 
plates was confided to his hands. R. Westall's ' Storm in Harvest ' 
and Lawrence's portrait of the Duke of Leeds were almost entirely 
engraved by Holmes. The tedium of engraving did not, however, 
agree with his active mind, and shortly after the completion of his 
apprenticeship he determined to commence his career as a water- 
colour painter ; abandoning also, though much against the advice of 
his friend Mr. Novello, the pursuit of music as a profession. But 
the sister art, in which he was already a proficient, became his chief 
recreation throughout a long life. 

His talent soon received recognition, and his drawing of ' The 
Doubtful Shilling' ' was especially the means of bringing him into 
notice. It contained an element of pathos, which is said to have 
drawn a tear from the appreciative eye of the Duchess of York, and 
was not only bought by Beau Brummell, himself a proficient amateur 
painter of miniatures, but led to a lasting friendship between the 
artist and the king of fashion. The only portrait of Brummell was 
painted by Holmes. Though their tastes in art were congenial, their 
habits of life were by no means the same. Holmes, calling one after- 
noon at three, when he himself had dined, found his friend at break- 
fast. 'Dear dear me,' said the Beau, when informed of the 
difference, ' why, this is my break of day.' 

Holmes's talents, joined to a suavity of personal demeanour, won 
him a place in the highest society. But we cannot follow him at 

1 'The Doubtful Shilling' was first exhibited at Bond Street in 1812, and is understood 
to have been engraved. 



CH. VI SOME FIGURE PAINTERS 381 

present beyond the walls of Wigley's Rooms, and his lowly artist 
quarters about Fitzroy Square ; whither he migrated from Camden 
Town, to live at No. 9 Upper Titchfield Street (called, from and after 
1817, Cirencester Place). 

Holmes's subject pieces belonged to a popular, sometimes, it may 
even be said, to a vulgar, class. His two contributions for the first year 
are ' Hot Porridge ' and ' The Married Man.' In 1 8 1 5 he begins to send 
portraits, and they number nineteen out of the thirty-one works which 
he exhibited from 1813 to 1820. In the last of these years he has nine, 
and nothing else. His three pictures in 1817 represent him in his 
various phases. They are : first, a ' Cottage Child ; ' secondly, a 
' Portrait of the Right Hon. Lord Byron ; ' ' and thirdly, an illustration, 
under the name ' Michaelmas Dinner,' of the following verbal sketch 
by Lord Chesterfield of a bad carver of goose : ' He cannot hit 
the joint, but in his vain efforts to cut through the bone, splashes the 
company.' * 

The taste and beauty of colouring displayed in Holmes's miniatures 
soon gained him a large practice ; and through the influence of the 
Princess Esterhazy, who saw his works in 1819, he stepped into Court 
patronage. He painted three portraits of George IV., played and sang 

1 Holmes painted (at least) two portrait miniatures of Lord Byron, from which there are 
prints at the British Museum. Both represent him in Elizabethan costume. One, of which 
there is only an undated proof there, was taken at the age of twenty-one ' from an original 
miniature in the possession of Lt.-Col. Leicester Stanhope.' Another is in the possession of 
Mr. Isaac Falcke, and was lent by him to the Burlington Fine Arts Club Exhibition 
of 1889. It is inscribed at the back, 'Painted by James Holmes, I2th April, 1816.' Of 
this there are several engravings. One, in stipple by Meyer, forms the frontispiece to 
The Life, Writings, Opinions and Times of the Rt. Hon. George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord 
Byron, 3 vols. 8vo, published by Iley, 1825, where it is described as ' the last his lordship 
ever sat for ;' another, engraved by H. Meyer, was published by Henry Colburn, 1828 ; and 
a third, by H. T. Ryall, was ' published September I, 1835 (for Mr. Holmes) by F. G. Moon,' 
on the same plate with a facsimile of the note to Holmes mentioned below. It is said to 
have been of this latter portrait that Byron wrote to a friend from Genoa on 19 May, 1823 : 
' A painter of the name of Holmes made, I think, the very best one of me in 1815 or 1816, 
and from this there were some good engravings taken ; ' adding in an inclosure, being the 
note above referred to, ' I prefer that likeness to any which has been done from me by any 
artist whatever.' In a list of portraits of Byron given by Mr. Richard Edgcumbe in Notes 
an