• The Heights of Dovedale, Derbyshire -
    Price on request

    Numbered 6 on the original wash mount

    Pen and grey ink and watercolour over pencil on laid paper

    34.1 by 47.6 cm., 13 ¼ by 18 ¾ ins.

     

    William Day (1764-1807) is an interesting and accomplished amateur artist.  He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1782 and 1801 as an Honorary Exhibitor.  The brief facts about Day and his work were assembled by the late Judy Egerton in an article in Connoisseur magazine in July 1970, pp. 176-185, which remains the main source of information on his life.  It is not known for certain when Day met John Webber, the Swiss-born artist, who adopted an English spelling of his surname and is now chiefly famous for accompanying Captain Cook on his last expedition to the South Seas between 1776 and 1780.  The Connoisseur article notes, without giving a source, that their friendship “began about 1787”. Certainly Day and Webber were sketching together in the Wye valley in 1788, which is the first time that pairs of views by the two artists of the same subject are known to exist.  Two watercolours by Webber of Chepstow Castle dated 1788, which are now in the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester (D.1900.12 & D.1970.77) (see Charles Nugent, British Watercolours in the Whitworth Art Gallery, 2003, p. 282) correspond to two watercolours by Day which were acquired by Chepstow Museum in 2012.

     

    In 1789 Day and Webber again travelled together and made a tour of Derbyshire.  Their exact route is not known but surviving drawings indicate that they visited all the main spots, including Matlock, Cromford, Dovedale and Castleton.  The tour is described and a number of drawings from it illustrated in the 1996 Berne and Manchester Webber exhibition catalogue (see W. Hauptman, Captain Cooks Painter: John Webber 1751-1793 Pacific Voyager and Landscape Artist, 1996, pp. 193-214).  Several other pairs of Day and Webber drawings have been identified, some quite recently, from this tour.  This watercolour is one such recent identification.  Day watercolours are normally mounted on a secondary support with a grey wash border within which is a number; sometimes there is an additional identifying inscription on the reverse.  This example has the number 6 but is not inscribed on the reverse.  Nevertheless, it is possible to identify the view since it corresponds exactly with the Webber watercolour inscribed “Heights at Dovedale, Derbyshire”, purchased by the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, in 1952 (see E. Joll, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Watercolours and Drawings, 2002, p. 281).

     

    There are only two other known pairs of Day and Webber watercolours in public collections.  The first pair, of Renards Hole, Dovedale, is at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut (see W. Hauptman, op. cit., pp. 211 & 212).  The second pair, of Peveril Castle and the Peak Cavern, Castleton, was acquired from a private collection in 2011 by Buxton Museum & Art Gallery (see W. Hauptman, op. cit., pp. 196 & 197).  At least four other pairs of Day and Webber watercolours are known, but not in the same collection.  Fifteen securely identifiable Derbyshire views by Day from 1789 are now known, but the highest number recorded on their mounts is 26, indicating that at least eleven remain to be discovered. 

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