Feb 28, 2013

Landscape with Figure in Foreground

Landscape with Figure in Foreground

c. 1840

Cornelius Varley

(British, 1781–1873)

Brown ink and brown wash with graphite

Support: Wove paper with watermark

Sheet: 49.1 x 38.1 cm (19 5/16 x 15 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2004.40



Primarily self-taught, Varley played a significant role in the development of open-air drawing practice in 19thcentury England. He relished the opportunity to engage directly with natural phenomena and made numerous sketches of the English landscape. Raised by his uncle who was a watchmaker, Varley combined his artistic interests with his exposure to science, and in 1809 invented a "graphic telescope," a drawing instrument loosely derived from the camera obscura. Varley’s drawings were more than mere transcriptions of nature, however. This drawing illustrates a stanza of Samuel Roger’s popular poem "The Pleasures of Memory":

The adventuring boy that asks his little share
And hies from home, with many a gossip’s prayer
Turns on a neighboring hill once more to see
The dear abode of peace and privacy;
And as he turns, the thatch among the trees
The smoke’s blue wreaths, ascending from the
The Village Common scattered with white sheep
All rouse reflection’s sadly pleasing train
And oft he looks, and weeps, and looks again.

See also
DR - British
Type of artwork: 

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