Trompe L'oeil Five Pound Note - Original mid-19th-century watercolour painting

An original mid-19th-century watercolour painting, Trompe L'oeil Five Pound Note.

A fascinating watercolour painting, with ink and graphite drawing, showing a folded five pound note sitting on top of a small landscape sketch. The picture uses the 'trompe l-oeil' (French for 'trick the eye') technique of depicting objects with such realistic detail that they appear to exist in three dimensions. In this case, part of the illusion comes from the fact that the five pound note has clearly been well used, with several previous owners having signed it, and with it even being used to jot down some mathematical calculations.

In good condition for its age. There is some age toning, and brown marks near the margins.
12.8cm x 19.6cm.

This work comes from a mid-Victorian album of great quality, which is typical of the mid-nineteenth century fashion of picture-collecting.

The album itself is a prestige object, made of tooled and gilded leather. But we don’t know who owned it: unusually for an album of this period there is no inscription. What we can say of the owner or owners, though, is that they were collecting around the middle of the nineteenth century, and that they had unusually eclectic tastes, even by the standards of the day.

There are landscapes and seascapes, fanciful scenes showing a Turkish harem, and high-quality studies of animals. And then there are the two genres in which the collection is particularly strong: flower studies, and Chinese pith paintings, many of the latter being in unusually good condition.

Though they are clearly by many different hands, the majority of the works are unsigned. What they demonstrate is how a Victorian collector would operate: picking up anything that caught their eye, often mounting it on embossed paper or card, and keeping it safe in a finely decorated book expressly for the purpose.

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Product code: JG-984

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