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Oil painting - Rydal Bridge, Westmoreland

Rydal Bridge, Westmoreland

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Date:

    ca. 1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rathbone, John (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce

  • Museum number:

    DYCE.56

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case WE

Object Type
Oil paintings of Romantic scenery steadily increased in popularity after the beginning of the 19th century. The influence of the Lake poets, chiefly William Wordsworth, increased the demand for pictures of the unspoilt scenery of the Lake District.

Subjects Depicted
The view is of Pelter Bridge, near Rydal Hall and Rydal Mount, just north of Ambleside and Lake Windermere. The wild scenery and the bridge's picturesque decay reflects the developing cult of the Picturesque, and most tourists to the Lake District over the next few decades would explore this area. Wordsworth, who was born in Cumbria, eventually settled at Rydal Mount in 1813, remaining there until his death in 1850.

People
Rathbone exhibited Lake District subjects almost throughout his career at the Royal Academy from 1785 to 1801. The paintings of Richard Wilson (?1713-1782) had obviously influenced him, for, like other artists of the time, he adapted some of the characteristics deployed by Wilson and other painters of the Italian countryside for his own works undertaken in Britain.

Date

ca. 1800 (made)

Artist/maker

Rathbone, John (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 44.4 cm estimate, Width: 59.7 cm estimate

Object history note

Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce, 1869
Almost certainly painted by John Rathbone (born in Cheshire, about 1750, died in London, 1807)

The painting was originally attributed to Ibbetson when it was acquired by the museum. Both Ibbetson and Rathbone drew inspiration from the picturesque landscape of Northern Britain for their work. Both artists travelled together along with George Morland to many of these rural places in England and Ibbetson is also known to have provided figures for a number of Rathbone landscapes. B. L. K. Henderson addressed the attribution in the publication Morland and Ibbetson (pp.149-150) observing that, while there is a likeness of style some points differ from Ibbetson’s usual craftsmanship. The subject and overall style were typical of Ibbetson leading Henderson to conclude that it may have been an unfinished work painted at the time of the artist’s hasty departure from London in 1800. A note on the museum file states that Col. M. H. Grant suggested that the work was by Rathbone. This attribution was made by comparing the painting with a sketch that Col. M. H. Grant had in his collection. In his book Old English Landscape Painters of 1925, Grant states that although Dyce.56 is “attributed to Ibbetson” it is in reality by John Rathbone. However he does not mention the link between the painting and the sketch. In 1957 it was decided that the work had no strong stylistic similarities to Ibbetson. The painting was subsequently attributed to John Rathbone as it has no stylistic similarities with the work of Ibbetson.

Historical significance: John Rathbone (c.1750-1807), painter, was born in Cheshire. Believed to be a self taught artist, he spent his early years in North England and is documented living in Preston in 1774 and in Leeds in 1775. Like many of his contemporaries, Rathbone was influenced by Richard Wilson's (1713?-1782) landscape paintings of Italy and Britain. In fact Rathbone's early style earned him the name of ‘the Manchester Wilson’. By 1785 he was living and working in London. He also began submitting works to the Royal Academy that year. He was a prolific painter and exhibited forty-eight landscapes at the Royal Academy and two at the Society of Arts, London, between 1785 and 1806. He travelled extensively and has become associated through his paintings with areas in North England such as Northumbria and the Lake District. He knew and travelled to these locations with the artists George Morland (1763-1804) and Julius Caesar Ibbetson (1759-1817), both of whom contributed figures to Rathbone's landscapes.

This view is of Pelter Bridge, near Rydal Hall and Rydal Mount, the home of the poet William Wordsworth, just north of Ambleside and Lake Windermere in the Lake District. The wild scenery and the bridge's picturesque decay reflect the developing cult of the Picturesque. Most tourists were drawn to explore this picturesque landscape of the Lake District over the next few decades. Rathbone's view combining the wild scenery and old weathered bridge is typical of the many Lake District subjects he showed at the Royal Academy between 1785 and 1801.

Rathbone exhibited Lake District subjects almost throughout his career at the Royal Academy from 1785 to 1801. This painting is not listed as having been exhibited at the Royal Academy. Like many of his contemporaries Rathbone was influenced by the works of Richard Wilson. This painting adapts some of the characteristics deployed by Wilson and other painters in their scenes of the Italian countryside for his own works undertaken in Britain.

Historical context note

Oil paintings of Romantic scenery steadily increased in popularity towards the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the 19th century. The influence of the Lake poets, based in the Lake District in North England, particularly William Wordsworth (1770-1850, increased the demand for pictures of the unspoilt scenery of the Lake District. The dramatic landscape of the Lake District made this area popular for both artists and tourists. Its appeal was enhanced still further through the celebration of the Lakes in Wordsworth's poetry. Wordsworth, who was born in Cumbria, eventually settled at Rydal Mount in 1813, remaining there until his death in 1850.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Rydal Bridge, Westmorland', John Rathbone, ca. 1800

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

Henderson, B.L.K. Moorland and Ibbetson, London, P.Allan and Co, 1920, pp.149-150.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The dramatic landscape of the Lake District made this area popular for both artists and tourists. Its appeal was enhanced still further through the celebration of the Lakes in William Wordsworth's poetry. Rathbone's view of the wild scenery and decaying bridge is typical of the many Lake District subjects he showed at the Royal Academy between 1785 and 1801. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Categories

Paintings; British Galleries

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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