Attrib. Richard Doyle
This outstanding collection of watercolours and pen and ink illustrations records a European tour of 1877-8. The collection comprises paintings of sublime mountain peaks and glaciers in the Swiss and Italian Alps, which, whilst typically picturesque in their composition and subject, are strikingly modern and graphic in their application of flat blocks and striations of colour.
The collection also includes a number of characterful, keenly observed illustrations depicting local personalities – the Swiss waiter, Italian musicians and Monte Carlo gamblers. These illustrations appear to be by the same hand as the watercolours; some are inscribed on the front or verso, and most have an accompanying inscription on a separate fragment of paper – all in the same hand.
We acquired the collection with accompanying cataloguing information (see sheets pictured), which lists the titles of the pictures and also gives the attribution Richard Doyle (1824-1883).
Richard Doyle was a Victorian artist, best known for his illustrations for Punch and also his fairy paintings. Doyle joined the staff of Punch in 1843, aged just nineteen, and in 1844 he designed the intricate front cover which was used as the magazine’s signature until the middle of the 20th century.
Richard Doyle was the son of Irish cartoonist John Doyle (1783-1851), and a natural heir to George Cruikshank. Working as a freelance illustrator his masterpiece was In Fairyland (1869-70), a book ostensibly designed for children but with coded adult themes. He was a friend of Holman Hunt and William Makepeace Thackeray, and he was at home in the company of Millais, Rossetti, Dickens and Cruikshank.
The illustrations in this collection display Doyle’s humour and lightness of touch. And these works are not the first time Doyle recorded his foreign travels on paper. In 1854 he had penned a book entitled “The Foreign Tour of Messrs. Brown, Jones and Robinson: Being the History of What They Saw, and Did, in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland & Italy” in which he recorded the local sights and characters encountered by three companions during a summer’s excursion to Germany and northern Italy.