Lots by Peter De Wint
Peter de Wint, O.W.S. Biography
Peter de Wint was born in Stone in Staffordshire, the son of a doctor of Dutch extraction who had emigrated from New York to England to study medicine. Peter was intended to follow his father’s profession, but instead he became an artist: in 1802 he went to London as an apprentice to the engraver John Raphael Smith. In 1806 he broke his apprenticeship for the price of 18 oil paintings and set up in a studio with his fellow-student William Hilton. It was at this time that he was introduced to Dr Thomas Monro, at whose house he studied, and there he came under the spell of the watercolours of Turner and Girtin.
In 1810 De Wint was accepted as an associate member of the Old Water-Colour Society. He then drifted away from oil painting to watercolours, which was to become his medium.
De Wint was only to make one trip aboard (to Normandy in 1818) and declared that England offered all he needed in subjects to paint. Ever a searcher after truth, it is evident that his ‘Englishness’ gave the fresh quality and directness of vision that set him apart from his contemporaries. His palette reflects his purity of purpose, which comprised only the following ten pigments: Yellow Ochre, Gamboge, Indian Red, Brown Pink, Vermillion, Prussian Blue, Indigo, Burnt Sienna, Sepia, Purple Lake. He also preferred to use these colours on ivory tinted Creswick paper.
He had many patrons and was well liked and acknowledged in his time. He was a popular drawings master – hence the many doubtful De Wints which appear on the market. During the first half of this century his popularity waned, and it is only in the last two or three decades that he has been recognized as one of our greatest watercolourists and as a superb draughtsman.