Tag Archives: watercolour

An image from the past: Shirehampton Park

Another artwork with Kings Weston Interest has come our way recently. The panoramic views across the waters of the Severn to the north were matched by the rolling landscape framing the Avon and its gorge to the south. Both proved popular locations for picturesque paintings throughout the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. The recently uncovered work shows the view up the Avon from Shirehampton Park, a spot much-favoured by artists. Here, the view across Horseshoe Bend was attractively framed by trees along the parkland edge. Distant views of Cook’s Folly, a tower with romantic associations, added distant intrigue to the scene.

The painting is likely to date from the 1830s, before the twin towers of the Clifton Suspension bridge rose to punctuate the skyline.  Our artist, whoever they might have been, has added a sentimental vignette as foreground interest. A young couple, the gent apparently an artist working on his own version of the same view, have been approached by a gentleman and his dog. It may be that, in his red tunic and walking stick, he is an old soldier begging for money, so adding a poignant human touch in the midst of such natural drama.

A Regency Fancy 

Another painting recently came to auction that’s of Kings Weston interest; it’s a watercolour of the house and park from Penpole Point. It’s a view that’s already familiar to us through one of the most widely published and most attractive prints of the park in the early 19th Century. The artist was the impressively named Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding (1787-1855) who visited Kings Weston in 1816. It’s not clear whether it was intentionally painted as part of a larger project, but reproduced it found its way into a Series of Picturesque Views of Noblemen’s and Gentlemen’s Seats seven years later.

the original watercolour showing the view of Kings Weston house from Penpole Point. 1816, Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding (1787-1855). 
One version of the print copied from the original painting. 

Painted from Penpole – a new discovery  

A recent new acquisition is this watercolour painting of Kings Weston house framed by the trees and lodge at Penpole Point. The gates separating the common land on the Point from the private woodland walls is firmly shut and the top of the lodge is almost enveloped in ivy. The sun makes the golden stone of both buildings glow in the early autumn light. This was once a well-known view of the house, being the subject of several other known paintings, but inclusion of the lodge in the view as well is unusual. The view to the house must have been obscured by trees not long after this painting was created as we have no later image from this perspective.

It’s an important find for a couple of reasons; first it was painted by a well-known local artist, Thomas Leeson Rowbotham (1782–1853), whose paintings form a major component of the city museum’s Braikenridge collection. Most of these date to the 1820s and were commissioned to record historic buildings and monuments in the city, though the Kings Weston painting falls outside of that collection. It’s also significant for its very precise date – September 21st 1848 – just a year short of 175 years, almost to the week. It’s a late work by Rowbotham, then aged 66, the artist surviving just five years longer after its completion.  

Kings Weston house and Penpole Lodge from the point, Thomas Leeson Rowbotham, 21st September 1848. 

Unusual Georgian view discovered

A view of Kings Weston was recently sent to us which shows the house from an unusual angle. The view, painted in 1796, shows the prospect across the parkland from the South Walk, with the house framed in a naturalistic manner by groves of trees. This is the first illustration from this angle we’ve come across and is of particular note as it closely matches the views that KWAG restored during last year’s Lifting the Curtain project. The same angle is approximated in the masthead photo at the top of this month’s newsletter.

Watercolour of Kings Weston house from the South Walk, George Heriot, 1796.

The artist was George Heriot, a Scottish-born Civil servant who, at this time, had moved to the colonies of Canada. He returned briefly in 1796, when he painted this image, before returning to North America and developing a reputation as a major figure in Canadian Art.  This painting demonstrates not just the artist’s skill, but also that of the landscape designer. Edward Southwell III had de-formalised the grounds around the house in the 1760’s and we might assume that these copses of trees were planted at about that time to create picturesque framed views of his home.