Peter DeWint and the Victorians: 'the most truly English of our painters'

Cheshire, Jim (2007) Peter DeWint and the Victorians: 'the most truly English of our painters'. In: Peter DeWint 1784-1849: for the common observer of life and nature. Lund Humphries, UK, pp. 60-70. ISBN 9780853319375

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Abstract

Peter De Wint and the Golden Age of Watercolour documents an exhibition curated by the History of Art department at the University of Lincoln and the Collection and Usher Gallery, Lincoln. The exhibition presents a major reassessment of this artist, who has received very little research from scholars since the early 1980s.This chapter examines De Wint’s reputation in the Victorian period and the cultural factors that influenced his reputation. My research approached the subject from three different perspectives. Firstly a survey of reviews of De Wint’s paintings was carried out for the last decade of his life; this established his critical reception at the beginning of the Victorian period. The second element examined what people wrote about De Wint after his death; this element was dominated by the brief Memoir, written after his death by his widow, Harriet De Wint. The third element traces the prices De Wint’s paintings achieved on the art market, another indicator his popularity in the period. The research showed that by the 1840s De Wint was considered to be an artist typical of the previous generation: a much admired figure working in a well liked but well established manner. The Memoir should not be underestimated, Harriet De Wint had a big emotional and financial stake in her husband’s posthumous reputation and her Memoir is a deceptively subtle piece of writing. De Wint’s status was intricately caught up in the Victorian project of constructing a history of the ‘British School of Painters’ chiefly because he was seen as a key practitioner in what came to be considered as a quintessentially English achievement: the development of landscape watercolour. The hugely inflated prices De Wint’s painting fetched in the auction houses of the later nineteenth century show that his reputation was sustained alongside more familiar names in landscape painting.

Item Type:Book Section
Additional Information:Peter De Wint and the Golden Age of Watercolour documents an exhibition curated by the History of Art department at the University of Lincoln and the Collection and Usher Gallery, Lincoln. The exhibition presents a major reassessment of this artist, who has received very little research from scholars since the early 1980s.This chapter examines De Wint’s reputation in the Victorian period and the cultural factors that influenced his reputation. My research approached the subject from three different perspectives. Firstly a survey of reviews of De Wint’s paintings was carried out for the last decade of his life; this established his critical reception at the beginning of the Victorian period. The second element examined what people wrote about De Wint after his death; this element was dominated by the brief Memoir, written after his death by his widow, Harriet De Wint. The third element traces the prices De Wint’s paintings achieved on the art market, another indicator his popularity in the period. The research showed that by the 1840s De Wint was considered to be an artist typical of the previous generation: a much admired figure working in a well liked but well established manner. The Memoir should not be underestimated, Harriet De Wint had a big emotional and financial stake in her husband’s posthumous reputation and her Memoir is a deceptively subtle piece of writing. De Wint’s status was intricately caught up in the Victorian project of constructing a history of the ‘British School of Painters’ chiefly because he was seen as a key practitioner in what came to be considered as a quintessentially English achievement: the development of landscape watercolour. The hugely inflated prices De Wint’s painting fetched in the auction houses of the later nineteenth century show that his reputation was sustained alongside more familiar names in landscape painting.
Keywords:Watercolour, Peter DeWint
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V350 History of Art
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Art & Design
ID Code:1122
Deposited By: Bev Jones
Deposited On:05 Sep 2007
Last Modified:18 Jul 2011 16:16

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