• Cader Idris from near Dolgelly, North Wales -
    Price on request

    Signed lower left: J. Varley. 1812.

    Watercolour over pencil 

    22.6 by 47.6 cm., 8 3/4 by 18 3/4 inches

     

    This is a view of the north face of Cader Idris from across the River Mawddach estuary which can be seen in the foreground. Cader Idris, meaning 'Chair of Idris' from the giant warrior poet of Welsh legend consists of a seven mile craggy and precipitous ridge situated at the southern end of Snowdonia National Park.

     

    This is likely to be one of the four views of Cader Idris by Varley exhibited at the Society of Painters in Water-colours in 1812 and 1813.

     

    Provenance:

    Acquired by Bolton Museum and Art Gallery in 1965

    De-accessioned in 2011

     

  • Self-portrait -
    Price on request

    Pencil on buff paper heightened with touches of white

    18.7 by 14.6 cm., 7 ½ by 5 ¾ in.

     

    Provenance:

    The Lowry Family;

    Anonymous sale, Sotheby’s, 13th November 1980, lot 43;

    With Spink & Son Ltd, London, May 1981;

    Robert S. Pirie;

    Private Collection, UK

     

    This rare self-portrait by Varley dates from circa 1810. A portrait of Varley by John Linnell is in the V & A (see Adrian Bury, John Varley of the `Old Society’, 1946, plate 1, ill.), and portraits of him by Blake and Mulready are in the National Portrait Gallery.

     

    Born in London, Varley trained as a watercolourist under Joseph Barrow aged sixteen and first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798. He was a regular exhibitor there until becoming a founder member of the Old Watercolour Society in 1805, where he exhibited over 700 watercolours until his death. He was also a successful drawing master but was a poor businessman and in constant financial difficulties. 
  • Classical Landscape -
    Price on request

    Watercolour heightened with bodycolour and gum arabic

    295 x 501 mm., 11 ¾ x 19 ¾ in.

     

    The large size, dark colouring and extensive use of gum arabic are typical features of Varley’s late works of circa 1840 (see C.M. Kauffmann, John Varley, 1984, nos. 70-81, ill.). 

  • Study of Rhuddlan Castle, Flintshire -
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    Watercolour over pencil
    With pencil sketches of houses verso
    8.3 by 15.9cm., 3 by 6 inches

    This free and loose sketch by Varley appears to date from his 1802 tour to Wales as a view of the castle from the same viewpoint with the same beached boat is in Leeds City Art Gallery and dated 1803.

    Rhuddlan Castle sits on the River Clwyd three miles north-west of St Asaph.
  • Conway Castle, North Wales -
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    signed lower right and dated 1810 and signed and inscribed verso: Conway Castle N. Wales a Sketch
    watercolour over pencil heightened with stopping out
    25.5 by 64cm., 10 by 25 inches

    Varley first visited North Wales in 1798 and returned there throughout his life. His first exhibited view of Conway was in 1800 at the Royal Academy and his last at theWatercolour Society in 1833. This watercolour shows the 13th century castle from the beach to the north-east

    Exhibited:
    London, Society of Painters in Water-colours, 1810, no.303
  • Nine Elms and Chelsea from Vauxhall, London -
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    signed lower right: J. Varley
    watercolour over pencil heightened with stopping out
    11.5 by 16cm., 4 1/2 by 6 1/4 inches

    This is a view of the Thames looking west from Vauxhall with Randall's Mill at Nine Elms visible on the south bank. Chelsea Old church is visible in the distance on the north side of the river
  • A Castle on an Estuary -
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    signed lower right
    Watercolour over pencil
    25.2 by 18cm., 9 3/4 by 7 inches
  • Mount Snowdon from the slopes of Moel Hebog, Beddgelert below -
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    Signed lower left: J. Varley. 1812.

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with stopping out

    37.7 by 51.7 cm., 14 3/4 by 20 3/4 inches

     

    Provenance:

    With Spinks, London, 1980s;

    Private collection, UK

     

    Exhibited:

    London, Society of Painters in Water-colours, 1813, no.130

     

    Varley painted this view on several occasions. He is looking north-east from the lower slopes of Moel Hebog across to Snowdon with the village of Beddgelert below. Varley first visited North Wales in 1798 but then again in 1802. An 1804 version of this view is recorded in the Lupton Collection (see Adrian Bury, John Varley of the 'Old Society', 1946, pl. 14).

  • Cromer from the Lighthouse -
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    Signed lower left: J. Varley

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with stopping out and gum arabic

    19.7 by 27.2 cm., 7 2/3 by 10 3/4 inches

     

    Provenance:

    With Spinks, London;

    Private collection, UK until 2011

     

    Exhibited:

    Probably London, Society of Painters in Water-colours, 1824, no.11

     

    This watercolour, in exceptional condition, is a rare Norfolk view by Varley.  He exhibited three views in or near Cromer at the Society of Painters in Water-colours in 1823 and 1824 of which this is likely to be one. For another view of Cromer dated 1834, see Adrian Bury, John Varley of the `Old Society', 1946, pl. 57.

  • Caernarvon Castle, North Wales -
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    signed lower right: J. Varley

    watercolour over pencil

    13.4 by 19cm., 5 1/4 by 7 1/2 inches

     

    This is a view of Caernarvon from the south-west. A smaller version of this view was with John Spink (see Timothy Wilcox, John Varley 1778-1842, John Spink exhibition catalogue, 2008, no.13)

  • Valle Crucis Abbey, North Wales -
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    Signed lower right: J. Varley/1835

    Watercolour over pencil, with cut corners

    12.8 x 17.1 cm., 5 x 6 3/4 inches

     

    Valle Crucis Abbey was founded in 1201 just to the west of Llangollen and was an active Cistercian monastery until it was dissolved in 1537, and subsequently fell into disrepair.

     

    Varley was a frequent visitor to North Wales from 1798 and he exhibited many Welsh views at the Society of Painters in Water-colours.

  • Brecon on the River Usk, South Wales -
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    signed lower left: J. Varley 1837

    watercolour over pencil heightened with bodycolour, scratching out and gum arabic

    18.4 by 27.4cm., 7 1/4 by 10 3/4 inches

     

    Brecon is a market town in south Powys and was previously the county town of the old county of Brecknockshire. Beyond the bridge over the Usk stands Brecon Priory, known since 1923 as Brecon Cathedral, with the old Norman castle to the left

  • Eagle's Nest, Lake  Killarney -
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    signed lower left: J. Varley/1834

    watercolour over pencil heightened with stopping out on wove paper watermarked:J WHATMAN/TURKEY MILL/1834

    24.2 by 34.1cm., 9 1/2 by 13 1/4 inches

     

    Varley exhibited `Turk Lake, Killarney' at the Society of Painters in Water-colours in 1834, no.5

     

    Provenance:

    J.F. Woodthorpe;

    With Leger Galleries, London, May 1967

  • View of the Town Hall, Leominster -
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    Watercolour over pencil 37.6 by 56.9cm., 14 3/4 by 22 1/4 inches

     

    This shows the old town hall of Leominster, sited at the junction of High St and Broad St. It was built in 1633 by the King?s carpenter John Abel and served as the town hall with an open-air market beneath. In 1856, it was moved to its current site in a park outside the town centre and exists today as Grange Court, containing local authority offices.

     

    This is one of a group of street scenes by Varley which originated from his 1798 tour to North Wales with George Arnald. Others include two views of the High St., Conway in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see C.M. Kauffmann, John Varley, 1984, nos. 4 and 5, ill.). A smaller version of this watercolour, dated 1801, is in Hereford City Museum and Art Gallery (see Andrew Wilton and Anne Lyles, The Great Age of British Watercolours 1750-1880, 1993, no.316, ill. plate 72). One of the two watercolours was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802, no.965

  • Italian Scene ? Composition -
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    signed lower right: J. Varley/1834 and signed on reverse of original mount: Italian Scene/J. Varley/1834/Composition

    watercolour over pencil heightened with bodycolour, stopping out and gum arabic

    19 by 29.3cm., 7 1/2 by 11 1/2 inches

  • A Country Church at Sunset -
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    signed lower right: J. Varley and dated lower left 1837

    watercolour over pencil heightened with stopping and scratching out

    14.7 x 21.6cm., 5 ? x 8 ? inches

     

    Provenance:

    With the Fine Art Society, London, June 1965

    With Richard Ivor, London

    Bought by Basil Heath-Brown, 23rd October 1979 for ?650

    Private Collection, UK

     

    Exhibited:

    Dudley Art Gallery, David Cox and his Contemporaries, 1-29 May 1976, no.86

     

    A smaller version of this watercolour, titled `Hythe Church, Kent? was sold at Bonham?s on 11th March 2008, lot 36

  • View of Sintra, Portugal -
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    Signed on reverse of former mount: Rock of Lisbon/from a sketch/by Colonel Landman/J.Varley

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with bodycolour and stopping out

    26 by 36.4cm., 10 ? by 14 ? inches

     

    Provenance:

    Anonymous sale, Christie?s, 19th March 1968, lot 38

     

    This is a distant view of Sintra which stands on the coast west of Lisbon. The two conical towers are of the Palacio Nacional de Sintra, the ancestral seat of the House of Avis. They were added to the original palace in the eighteenth century. This may be the view of Sintra exhibited at the Society of Painters in Water-colours in 1841 as no.322. Varley never left the British Isles but exhibited a number of European views based on the drawings of amateur artists or soldiers in this case a ?Colonel Landman?. This is probably Colonel George Landmann (1779-1854) who served in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsula War. In 1818 he published ?Historical, Military, and Picturesque Observations in Portugal.?

  • A Castle by a Lake in a Mountainous Landscape -
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    Signed lower right

    Watercolour over pencil

    12.6 x 19.3 cm., 5 x 7 ? in.

     

    Provenance:

    With Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd (no.28531)

    Dr W. Gordon, Birmingham

  • A Boat on a River -
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    Watercolour over pencil heightened with bodycolour and gum arabic

    9.5 by 13.5 cm., 3 3/4  by 5 1/3 in.

     

    Provenance:

    With Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd (no.28531)

    Dr W. Gordon, Birmingham

  • Beddgelert Bridge, North Wales -
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    Signed lower right and dated 1824

    Watercolour over pencil 

    18 by 24.4 cm., 7 by 9 1/2 inches

     

    This is a view of Beddgelert Bridge where it crosses the River Colwyn just upstream of its confluence with the River Glaslyn.  The mountain Moel Hebog is looking over the bridge on the left, with a range of Snowdonian peaks that make up the Nantlle Ridge in the distance.

     

     

     

  • A Cottage near Conway, North Wales -
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    Signed in pencil verso: Cottage......./Varley 1812 and in ink in another hand: Varley 47 Edgware Road

    Watercolour over pencil 

    24.7 by 34.4 cm., 9 3/4 by 13 1/2 inches

     

    This shows a cottage across the estuary from Conway Castle.

  • Travellers on a Country Road near a Castle -
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    Signed lower left: J. Varley

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with stopping out 

    9.1 by 13.1 cm., 3 1/2 by 5 inches

     

    Provenance:

    Cyril Fry Gallery

  • Byland Abbey, Yorkshire -
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    Signed lower right: J. Varley. 1824 and inscribed with title verso

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with gum arabic on laid paper

    21.7 by 30.2 cm., 8 1/2 by 11 3/4 inches

     

    Byland Abbey is six miles east of Thirsk, just south of the Yorkshire Moors. Once one of England's greatest monasteries, the abbey was dissolved in 1538.  Its ruins still look much as they did during Varley's time, with the same arched entrance.  The stained glass formerly in the abbey's beautiful west front inspired the design of York Minster's famous rose window.

     

    Another view of Byland Abbey by Varley, dated 1808, is in the Yale Center for British Art and a further was sold at Sotheby's on 12th April 1995, lot 95.

  • Brecon on the River Usk, South Wales -
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    Watercolour over traces of pencil
  • Study of a House -
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    Signed lower left: J. Varley

    Black and white chalk on blue paper

    27.8 by 36.5 cm., 10 ¾ by 14 ¼ inches

     

    Provenance:

    Angela Hornyold-Strickland, Sizergh Castle, Cumbria

     

    Varley produced a number of watercolours of a similar house on the Thames at Barnes (for an example, see Adrian Bury, John Varley of the “Old Society”, 1946, pl. 6).

  • Study of a Tree -
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    Signed or inscribed on mount: J. Varley

    Pencil with a study of a nude verso

    24.6 by 16.8 cm., 9 1/2 by 6 1/2 inches

     

    This mannered drawing by Varley is likely to have been used as a teaching tool and date from 1815-25. For a similar drawing, dated 1824, in the V and A Museum, see C.M. Kauffmann, John Varley 1984, no. 43, ill. p.146.

  • Figures on a Path near a Cottage -
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    Pencil and brown wash with drawn border

    Sheet 18.9 by 23.4 cm., 7 1/4 by 10 3/4 inches

     

    This mannered drawing by Varley is likely to have been used as a teaching tool and date from 1815-25. For a similar drawing, dated 1824, in the V and A Museum, see C.M. Kauffmann, John Varley 1984, no. 43, ill. p.146.

     

  • Mountains, North Wales -
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    Inscribed on border: by J. Varley

    Pencil on Whatman paper dated 1816

    Sheet 16 by 25.4 cm., 6 1/4 by 10 inches

     

    This mannered drawing by Varley is likely to have been used as a teaching tool and date from 1815-25. For a similar drawing, dated 1824, in the V and A Museum, see C.M. Kauffmann, John Varley 1984, no. 43, ill. p.146.

  • Torre Abbey, Devonshire, the Seat of G. Cary Esq. -
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    Signed lower left: J. Varley 1810 and again verso: Tor Abbey Devonshire the Seat of G Carey Esqr/J Varley 1810

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with touches of bodycolour and stopping out

    37.5 by 69.3 cm., 14 ¾ by 27 ¼ inches

     

    Provenance:

    By descent in the Cary Family at Torre Abbey, until 1930

     

    Exhibited:

    London, Society of Painters in Water-colours, 1810, no. 23

     

    Torre Abbey was dissolved in 1536 and converted into a house by Thomas Ridgeway in 1598. It was bought by the Cary family in 1662 and was sold to Torquay Council by Commander Henry Cary in 1930. It is now an art gallery in central Torquay and is known for its formal gardens.

  • South View of Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland -
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  • Conwy Castle, North Wales -
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    Watercolour over pencil

    13.7 by 21.9 cm., 5 ¼ by 8 ½ in.

     

    Provenance:

    With Michael Spratt, Guildford;

    Private Collection until 2014

     

    Varley first visited North Wales in 1798 and returned throughout his life. He first exhibited a view of Conwy in 1800 at the Royal Academy and the last at the Society of Painters in Water-colours in 1833. The pure washes and lack of bodycolour of the present watercolour suggest that it dates from circa 1810-15.

     

    This is a view of the castle from the north-east across the river Conwy with the mountains of North Wales behind. Telford’s suspension bridge which opened in 1826 now traverses the river next to the castle.

  • Cader Idris from the Mawddach River, North Wales -
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    Signed with initials lower left: June 4th 1813 10 ¼ J.V.

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with stopping out

    15.2 by 48.1 cm., 6 by 18 ¾ inches

     

    Provenance:

    Bought from Michael Spratt, Guildford, 1980s;

    Private Collection, London

     

    This depicts one of Varley’s favourite Welsh views. A view of Cader Idris taken from the Mawddach river looking  south with the bridge at Llanelltyd in the middle distance. He first visited the area on his first Welsh tour in 1798 or 1799 and returned on a number of occasions.

     

    The present watercolour is unusual is being an on-the-spot sketch with Varley noting it was drawn at 10.15am on 4th June 1813. Most of his watercolours are studio productions. It may be the picture exhibited at the Society of Painters in Water-colours in 1813, no. 126 as `View of Cader Idris, North Wales.’ Other versions of this view were with John Spink in 2008 (see Timothy Wilcox, John Varley 1778-1842, 2008, no.8) and in the collection at Eton College dated 1808.

  • View on the Mediterranean Coast -
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    Signed lower right: J. VARLEY

    Watercolour heightened with bodycolour, stopping out and gum arabic

    26.3 by 36.3 cm., 10 ¼ by 14 ¼ in.

     

    Varley never left Britain but this is one of a number of watercolours of European views, based on the work of other, often amateur, artists. Many of them were views of Spain and Portugal. The block capital signature is typical of his work and dates this watercolour to circa 1805-10.

     

    Provenance:

    With J. & W. Vokins, London

  • A Boathouse at Pimlico, Vauxhall Bridge beyond, London -
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    Watercolour over pencil heightened with touches of bodycolour

    23.3 by 35.2 cm., 9 by 13 ¾ in.

     

    Provenance:

    With Michael Bryan, London;

    Private Collection until 2014

     

    This is a view looking from Pimlico east towards the Thames. Vauxhall Bridge or Regent Bridge as it was originally known was built between 1809 and 1816 to help the development of the south bank of the Thames. The current bridge replaced it in 1906.

     

    This watercolour belongs to a group of views by Varley taken on the banks of the Thames dating from the early 1830s. Another version of this watercolour, dated 1830, was with Bonhams on 6th December 1972, lot 63 (see Huon Mallalieu, The Dictionary of British Watercolour Artists up to 1920, vol. II, 2002, p. 233, ill.) and a similar view of Vauxhall Bridge is in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. This may show Sullivan’s Boathouse which stood on the Thames at Millbank and was drawn by Varley from a different angle in 1830 and sold at Sotheby’s on 29th November 1973, lot 62.

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