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Hubberston Priory

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (painted)
    Milford Haven (made)

  • Date:

    18th century (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sandby, Paul, born 1731 - died 1809 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case DG, shelf 4

Physical description

Hubberston Priory, near Milford Haven; A man and woman conversing in the foreground near a cow, which is suckling her calf; Watercolours.

Place of Origin

England (painted)
Milford Haven (made)


18th century (drawn)


Sandby, Paul, born 1731 - died 1809 (artist)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 5.1 in, Width: 7.2 in

Object history note

Historical Significance:

Sandby received his early training from his older brother Thomas Sandby (1721-1798), whom he followed in 1747 as military draughtsman at the Board of Ordnance at the Tower of London. That same year he was appointed as official draughtsman to the Military Survey in Scotland. Whilst making maps of the Highlands, this is where Paul Sandby first began sketching figures that would from that date populate his topographical views. It was also at this date that he began producing panoramic landscapes in watercolour, some of which were produced in engravings. Sandby returned to London in 1752. He was a founding member of the Royal Academy in 1768 and appointed drawing master at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. His landscapes combined topographical accuracy with keenly observed figures under a sensitively depicted sky. He toured Wales in the 1770s, with Sir Watkin Willimas-Wynn in 1771 , and with Joseph Banks and the Hon Charles Greville in 1773. This second tour resulted in his Twelve Views in South Wales (1775) and Twelve views in North Wales (1776) published in the newly discovered medium of aquatint. This was followed with other print enterprises including The Virtuosi’s Museum published between 1778 and 1781 and consisting of 108 plates by various engravers after Sandby’s drawings of British topographical views. Continuing to work in watercolours in the 1780s and 1790s, he returned to painting in oils in about 1800.

This view of about 1775 shows Hubberston Priory (now known today as Pill Priory), near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, South Wales. The view is reproduced as an engraving by T. Mazel dated 1st December 1778 in Sandby’s The Virtuosi’s Museum (plate 33). It seems likely that the watercolour was made before this date and following the artist’s tours to the country in 1771 and 1773.

The priory is a Tironian House founded in the twelth century and was probably the daughter priory of St Dogmael’s near Cardigan. This view from the east shows the ruins situated at the confluence of two small streams. The surviving east facing wall of the chancel arch can be seen towering over the later domestic buildings to its left and right. It is believed that this is the oldest full time inhabited ruin in Wales. A number of views of the priory survive from the eighteenth century by artists including John Warwick Smith and Taylor. These all post date Sandby’s watercolour and subsequent engraving.

The view is represented with clearly delineated lines reflecting his early training in the Board of Ordnance. His meticulous observation is heightened through the clear tones of the palette, restrained to light blues and greens which combine to create a sensitive observation of the scene. This is particularly the case with the treatment of the sky and figures. In the foreground the view is populated by figures and cattle. The posture and gesture of these figures moves away from contemporary staffage. Here the figures are carefully observed and interact with their surrounds to direct our eye around the view.

Descriptive line

Sandby, Paul (R.A.); Hubberston Priory, near Milford Haven; A man and woman conversing in the foreground near a cow, which is suckling her calf; Watercolour; English School; 18th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

DYCE COLLECTION. A Catalogue of the Paintings, Miniatures, Drawings, Engravings, Rings and Miscellaneous Objects Bequeathed by The Reverend Alexander Dyce. London : South Kensington Museum, 1874.


Paper; Water-colour


Painting (image-making)

Subjects depicted

Calf; Woman; Priory; Man; Cow


Paintings; Topographical watercolours


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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