178
178

PROPERTY OF A LADY

Paul Sandby, R.A.
ANCIENT BEECH TREE, WINDSOR GREAT PARK
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 13,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
178

PROPERTY OF A LADY

Paul Sandby, R.A.
ANCIENT BEECH TREE, WINDSOR GREAT PARK
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 13,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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London

Paul Sandby, R.A.
NOTTINGHAM 1730 - 1809 LONDON
ANCIENT BEECH TREE, WINDSOR GREAT PARK
Watercolour and bodycolour over pencil;
signed with the artist's initials on the trunk of the tree: PS / 1797, bears signature lower left: Copley Fielding
647 by 464 mm
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Mrs M.M. Rowley;
her sale, London, Christie's, 16 July 1974, lot 73

Exhibited

New York, The New York Public Library (1987-1988), Bloomington, Indiana University Art Museum (1988), The Chicago Historical Society (1988), William Wordsworth and the Age of English Romanticism, no. 185, p. 111, fig. 99 & p. 222, cat. no. 185

 

Catalogue Note

This large watercolour dates from 1797 and shows Paul Sandby, one of the founding fathers of English watercolour painting, at the height of his powers. 

Responding to the 'picturesque' movement that was fashionable amongst intellectuals, artists and poets, Sandby painted a number of compositions of ancient woodland and spectacular trees during this period of his career. Often he found his subjects in Windsor Great Park where Thomas, his elder brother, was employed by the Royal Family in the lay-out of parts of the park, forest and the lake at Virginia Water. Paul was a frequent visitor to the Great Park and his son's memoir records that the forest was perhaps the greatest influence on his father’s life.1

Dominating the composition is a majestic and ancient beech tree, whose massive branches 'snake and twist against the pale blue light'.2 Sandby's powers of observation are remarkable and he has successfully captured the peculiar growth habits of this natural giant: from the 'dense foliage... [to the] lichens and mosses that attach themselves to the smooth, olive-grey bark'.3 At the foot of the tree, a woodsman sleeps amongst the roots, having abandoned his cart, his picnic lunch and his axe.

The inclusion of the sleeping man not only reinforces a key 'picturesque' theme, that of the smallness of man within the mighty natural world, but also perhaps introduces the concepts of the peace and stability of old England at a time when war with revolutionary France made the future far from certain.

Impressive and large-scale compositions such as the present watercolour demonstrate how Sandby, one of the great artists from the Age of Enlightenment, anticipates the achievements of artists of the next generation, such as the emotionally charged tree studies of Samuel Palmer or the earthy romanticism of John Constable.

Comparable works by Sandby can be found in the Royal Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Nottingham City Museum and Galleries and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.

1. P. Oppé, Sandby Drawings at Windsor Castle, London 1957, p. 1
2. J. Wordsworth, M. Jaye and R. Woof, William Wordsworth and the Age of English Romanticism, New Brunswick 1987, p. 222
3. J. Bonhill & S. Daniels, Paul Sandby Picturing Britain, London 2009, p. 230

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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London