Thomas J. Marple
This collection of nineteenth-century drawings and watercolour paintings by the artist Thomas J. Marple depicts architectural and rural scenes set in Derbyshire, Wales and Scotland. Little is known about Marple, but it is likely that he was a native to Derbyshire given the wealth of scenes depicted in that county. The name does appear in Derby newspapers of this time period, with a potential death date of 1889.
Marple’s interests appeared to have been vast – as well as producing typical Victorian images of pastoral beauty and simplicity, he also shows a fascinating penchant for nocturnal Gothic landscapes, interiors and the supernatural. He also crosses playfully between mediums – from the intricacy of graphite and pen to the fluidity and brightness of watercolour.
He attempts to capture the hidden magic that lies between the historic unknown, in the details of ancient churches and the then-decaying medieval manor house Haddon Hall, with contemporary poetry, landscape and people.
Some images contain elements of Whistlerian and Pre-Raphaelite design, indicating that on some level, Marple was abreast of developments in modern art, and made attempts to adapt them into his own unique style.
These works were once in the possession of Colonel Sir Henry Wilmot (1831-1901), an illustrious military figure during the age of Victorian imperialism, who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1858 for his actions at Lucknow during the battles of the Indian Mutiny. Wilmot was born near Derby, later becoming a Major in the Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers, and it is likely this local connection that attracted him to the works of Marple.