Ellis, St Michael's Mount, Cornwall - Original mid-19th-century graphite drawing


An original mid-19th-century graphite drawing, Ellis St Michael's Mount, Cornwall.

A dramatic and atmospheric drawing of stormy seas and skies surrounding St Michael's Mount in Cornwall. The medieval church rises majestically from the water, almost as if itself created by nature. Watercolour wash and white bodycolour intensify the scene. Verso there is a meticulous, unfinished drawing of the front elevation of a regency townhouse labelled 'No. 31'.

Unsigned. Inscribed verso: 'St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall'.
Some minor foxing and age toning as shown. There are adhesive and paper remnants around the periphery verso, due to historical mounting.
12.1cm x 24.5cm.

This work is one of a collection of exceptionally fine watercolours we have for sale, which were once in the possession of Sir Charles Robert Bignold. The watercolours are the work of a father and daughter by the name of Ellis (E. Ellis and A.A. Ellis) and span dramatic and picturesque locations across England, Wales and the Continent.

Whilst the identity of the Ellis artists is a mystery, an inscription accompanying the collection explains its origins: ‘from a series of sketches executed during a pedestrian tour by a father and his daughter, 1850-75’. The paintings are of consistently high quality and are a remarkable first-hand record of a father and daughter’s ambitious tour through some of Europe’s most picturesque scenery in the mid-19th century.

The paintings have a prestigious provenance, being formerly in the collection of Captain Sir Charles Robert Bignold (1892-1970), who belonged to the prosperous Bignold family of Norwich - his ancestor Thomas had established the Norwich Union Insurance Company in 1797. Charles Robert Bignold was a distinguished collector of fine books – his ‘picture book’ estate sale was held at Sotheby’s in 1971 – and the outstanding watercolours in this collection are a testament to Bignold’s fine connoisseurship.

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Product code: JH-796

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