Paul Sandby (Nottingham 1731 - London 1809)

The Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury


The Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury

gouache
22 x 31¾ in. (56 x 80 cm.)
signed, inscribed and dated 1800

Exhibited:
London, R.A., 1801, (no. 622);
London, Guildhall Art Gallery, 1960, Paul Sandby 1725-1809, no. 2. (As lent by Messrs. Frank
T. Sabin)

Provenance:
With Messrs. Frank T. Sabin, London, 1960;
With John Mitchell & Son, London,1976;
Private collection, UK 1976-2017.

Paul Sandby’s traditional title of ‘father of the English watercolour school’ has much justification. He freed watercolour from a subservient role to oil painting, and by the introduction of the aquatint process provided the ideal means for the reproduction of watercolours, widely diffusing their appeal. A founder member of both the Royal Academy and the Society of Artists, Sandby’s work in oil, gouache and watercolour ranges wide in technique and subject matter, and was of ‘powerful encouragement’ to the next generation of British landscape artists, including Thomas Girtin and Turner.
Paul Sandby was a prolific exhibitor, showing over 120 pictures at the RA between 1769 and his death in 1809, the majority of which related to commissioned views of English and Welsh scenery, often with historical features: castles such as Windsor, Warwick, Caernarvon and Rochester, and towns such as Tonbridge, Hereford, Worcester and, as here, Shrewsbury. As often in his work, we are presented here with an image of the British landscape which is both picturesque and yet well-ordered, with working boats on the River Severn contrasting with the gentleman angler on the bank.
Sandby’s mastery of the medium of bodycolour was not fully appreciated until 1965 when a remarkable group of five gouaches from Harewood House was sold at Christie’s, one for as much as 8,500 guineas – a very substantial sum at the time.