courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
John Varley (1778-1842) was a central figure for the watercolourists of the early nineteenth century. A founder member of the Society of Painters in Water Colours, and its most prolific exhibitor, he was also a highly significant teacher of both professionals and amateurs, and a writer of instruction manuals. He encouraged his students to paint in the open air, but also promoted the Picturesque theory of adapting nature to the requirements of composition.
This evocative view of Bamburgh Castle encapsulates the type of finished landscape watercolour that made Varley's reputation. Picturesque details in the foreground include a family of fisherfolk walking towards their small vessel on a broad sandy shore, with the scene overshadowed by the impressive fortress of Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland. Rising over the North Sea, this landmark is accentuated by an open patch of blue sky, and its form echoed in miniature by the tiny silhouette of Holy Island in the right distance. Varley may have exhibited this drawing at the Old Water-Colour Society in 1828.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-1251: card size 7" x 5" (178mm x 127mm)