After William Hamilton RA, Palemon's First Sight of Lavinia,watercolour painting


An original watercolour painting, After William Hamilton RA Palemon's First Sight of Lavinia.

An intriguing ink and wash drawing which is accompanied by an historic attribution ‘After William Hamilton RA (1751-1801)’ on an Abbott & Holder dealer’s label.

William Hamilton painted this scene, ‘Palemon's First Sight of Lavinia (Autumn)’, for illustration in a 1797 illustrated edition of James Thomson’s poems ‘The Seasons’. Hamilton’s painting was engraved by Peltro William Tomkins - the engraving being in reverse to the present drawing (see photograph). Hamilton’s style shows the influence of the cult of sentiment typical of the period.

The rural lovers Palemon and Lavinia appear in James Thomson’s ‘Autumn’, one in a series of four poems by the Scottish author, first published 1726-30. Thomson’s fantasy of rural romance is adapted from the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz; gentleman Palemon professes his love for country girl Lavinia in a harvest-time setting. The poem was extremely influential, inspiring works by Thomas Gainsborough and J.M.W. Turner among many others. The 1797 edition produced by was Peltro William Tomkins was the most impressive edition of the poem to date, accompanied by twenty-one plates based on William Hamilton’s original paintings - ambitious in its scope and the quality of the printing and paper used, and taking six years to complete. The edition was conceived and advertised by Tomkins in much the same way as John Boydell had his famous Shakespeare Gallery.

Intriguingly, the present drawing bears an additional ink sketch on the verso, which corresponds, for the most part, with the painting on the front (in reverse), but notably differs in a number of ways: the dog and peacock are absent, the house to the right has two gables rather than one, and there is a basket and jug in the left foreground.

In watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper. Accompanied by a cream wash line mount (note that the drawing was float-mounted and is not currently adhered to the mount).

Unsigned. Historic dealer number annotations in pencil to the verso lower edge.
A small amount of scattered minor foxing and slight age toning as shown. The verso of the paper has six small paper mounting hinges, as shown, which could be used to re-attach the sheet to the mount.
16.9cm x 21cm.

William Hamilton RA (1751-1801) was born in Chelsea, London. He belonged to a generation determined to expand the scope of the arts in Britain, travelling to Rome as a teenager to study with painter and printmaker Antonio Zucchi (who was to marry Angelica Kauffman in 1781). On his return to England Hamilton made decorative paintings for architect Robert Adam, then entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1769. After this, he focused on historical and literary subjects - becoming particularly well known for his paintings depicting episodes from the plays of Shakespeare and for his illustrations of poems. He was commissioned to create works for John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery, Thomas Macklin's Bible and Robert Bowyer's English History, which were widely reproduced in popular prints.

Text copyright © 2018 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

Product code: JM-245

Share this Product