John Dugmore, Bergkirche, Tharandt near Dresden - Early 19th-century watercolour


An original early 19th-century watercolour painting, John Dugmore Bergkirche, Tharandt near Dresden.

An outstanding and rare grisaille watercolour by British draughtsman and grand-tourist John Dugmore of Swaffham (1793–1871).

The view shows the Bergkirche, or mountain church, at Tharandt in Saxony, Germany, nine miles southwest of Dresden. The area is best known as the location of the Tharandt Forest and the oldest academy of forestry in Germany, founded as the Royal Saxon Academy of Forestry by Heinrich Cotta in 1811. Cotta founded the academy to address the serious issue of deforestation due to logging, and Tharandt Forest thus became a model for the concept of sustainable forest management. The forest was used as a place of recreation by middle-class families, especially from Dresden. By the mid-19th century the town was becoming important as an industrial centre, for its mechanical engineering and manufacturing of drapery.

John Dugmore of Swaffham (1793–1871) was born into Norfolk nobility in 1793. He benefited from a deep classical education and developed a sophisticated taste in the arts. On moving to London to seek his fame and fortune at the Royal Court, he met the man who was to become his patron, William Charles Keppel (1772–1849), 4th Earl of Albermarle. It is believed that Dugmore was responsible for Keppel children’s education, and he accompanied one of Keppel's sons on a Grand Tour in 1820. Over a period of twenty months, he passed from Scotland to Western Bohemia, France, Switzerland and Italy, recording the sights and views he encountered. This watercolour is very probably the product of that tour.

Dugmore's work has been praised for not only being visual witnesses of the shape of many main and minor European cities, but also for his ability in feeling and amplifying the esthetic news which he was meeting place by place. It is thought that his drawing style varies according to the landscape, his German drawings being very linear and pure, and his French drawings are ‘touched’ by pencil and brush in a way that seems largely to anticipate the impressionist idea of the light.

On wove paper laid down on brown backing paper. Titled on separate strip of backing paper (now detached), 'Church of Plauen near Dresden', Plauen being an area near to Tharandt.

Provenance: William Drummond (Covent Garden Gallery, London).

Inscribed upper centre on backing paper with William Drummond's dealer cataloguing number.
In fine condition. The backing paper is trimmed at the bottom edge, and slightly creased at the upper edge. Please see photos for detail.
20.7cm x 26.9cm.

This is one of a collection of outstanding works that we have for sale by John Dugmore of Swaffham (1793-1871), showing views in France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Scotland.

The skill evident in these watercolours is quite breathtaking—the technical prowess in rendering perspective and proportion, perfect gradation of light and shade, meticulous delineation of detail. But not only this, these works occupy a fascinating place in the history of topography and topographical art.

It is to the antiquarians of the 18th and early 19th centuries, and their impulse to collect records of the world around them, that we owe much of the knowledge we have today about landscapes since lost or altered. Dugmore's drawings are a part of this effort, and through his association with William Charles Keppel (1772-1849), they represent this effort amongst the highest echelons of British society—an effort which extended to the monarch himself, George III.

George III amassed a collection of 50,000 items of topographical interest between 1760 and his death in 1820. Of the total collection—comprising maps, topographical drawings, watercolours and prints—about one third relates to the countries of Europe associated with the Grand Tour. This endeavour tells us much about the way in which these accumulated topographical records were an expression of British patriotism and sovereignty, at a time of growing imperial might.

Around this time, advancements in print technology meant that Britain was becoming the most prolific, and arguably the most technically skilled, producer of maps and prints in the world—a factor which played an important role in enabling dissemination of topographical images. But importantly, these Dugmore drawings are not prints but the original work of hand and brush, and as such they retain a sense of human feeling, a reminder that images of apparent topographical objectivity are inescapably the product of human response to landscape.

Dugmore's output was not large and his drawings are rare, but his daughter-in-law, Lady Hutton, made mention of the existence of many albums filled with around 130. Sixty-five drawings are recorded in detail in Lady Hutton’s last will. Among them, forty-seven were discovered by Guy Peppiatt and offered on sale at an English auction house. Another one is filed in Sabin Galleries archives, London.

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Product code: JP-564

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