• View of the Avon Gorge looking towards the Severn Estuary -

    Signed lower left: F Danby

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with touches of bodycolour

    27.4 by 42.8 cm., 10 ? by 16 ? inches



    Anonymous sale, Sotheby?s, 3rd October 1974, lot 210;

    Private collection, UK until 2011


    This is a favourite viewpoint of several Bristol School artists and especially Danby. It looks west down the Avon from Durdham Down, with the Severn estuary in the distance and the hills of Wales on the horizon. To the right are the rocks known as Sea Walls with beyond the tower known as Cook?s Folly which was built at the end of the seventeenth century by John Cook. He was a chamberlain of the city of Bristol and lived nearby at Sneyd Park. For a later version of this view in the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, see Francis Greenacre, Francis Danby, exhibition catalogue, 1988, no.84, p.135, ill.


    Stylistically this dates from circa 1815, two years after his arrival in Bristol. Danby had trained in Dublin and in 1813 visited London with his fellow artists James O?Connor (1792-1841) and George Petrie (1789-1866). They were there only a few weeks before they ran out of money and Danby and O?Connor walked to Bristol with the intention of finding a boat to take them back to Ireland. However he found in Bristol a market for his landscapes and portraits and resolved to stay a while. In 1814 while he was painting portraits for some farmers in Somerset he took a fancy to one of their servants whom he quickly married leading to a ?precarious and unhappy life? (see Danby?s letter of reminiscences of 12th April 1860 published in Eric Adams, Francis Danby: Varieties of Poetic Landscape, 1973, pp.141-142). In 1817, he was living in Kingsdown, Bristol and remained there until 1824 when he left deep in debt and moved to London. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1817 and by the 1820s he became famous for his grand landscape paintings. According to Redgrave ?Danby will always take high rank with the lovers of art and genius. His imagination was of the highest class, his landscapes of the truest poetry? (see Samuel Redgrave, A Dictionary of Artists of the English School, 1878, p.113).

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