Aretas Akers, Ships under Battle Cannonfire - Original 1813 graphite drawing

An original 1813 graphite drawing, Aretas Akers Ships under Battle Cannon Fire.

A gently modelled graphite drawing of two warships engaged in battle under cannon fire. Paper includes an 1813 Molineux & Johnston, Triple Plume with Coronet (Prince of Wales) watermark in the centre.

Signed lower right.
Minor foxing and age toning around the edges as shown.  Overall tinting from the historical application of gum arabic wash. Horizontal crease running the entire length of the right side. Small creases to the lower right and left corners. Two small tears in the upper left side edge.  In the upper left quadrant, a small patch of staining as shown, with an accompanying hole and an area of paper thinning reaching downwards towards the sail.
19cm x 25.1cm.

This work is one of a collection we have for sale from an early nineteenth-century album with a cover inscription that reads ’The Property of St. Cyres Guest House, Jersey’. The label is a bit of a misnomer, as the book was actually used as a commonplace album once owned by a Jane Dorothea Warde, daughter of the Reverend Richard Warde at Yalding Vicarage in Kent. Executed by a number of hands, and filled with rich prose, poetry and artworks spanning from 1812 to 1827, the works in this book form a microcosm of popular taste in the late Georgian world, but also of the cultivated intimacy that passed freely between family and friends. 

The inscription on the first page reads ‘Jane Warde, from her brother R.R. (Richard Ramsay) Warde, June 26th, 1817’, indicating that it is likely that as a book of blank paper, the album was either found or bought and then gifted and reused by the then sixteen-year-old Jane as a place to collect personal items from family, friends and acquaintances. The book was likely printed some years earlier, in 1813, which would explain why a majority of the images in this collection bear an 1813 Molineux & Johnston (M&J) Prince of Wales paper watermark regardless of the date on the image. Jane appears to have moved in upper class circles - outside of many family members whose names can be traced in the book, it also includes works by high members of the Royal Navy, the children of wealthy landowners from Scotland and Wales, as well as a banker from Brighton, who later became infamous for swindling his investors in a widely publicised court case in 1842.

Though the skill level varies between artists, and the works range from impromptu drawings to copies of popular prints, each work is crafted with delicate attention to detail, with even the more cursory drawings containing an element of wit and vivacity. Each image tells a small piece of the story of its individual artist, and is an exciting piece of the historical record of late Georgian society.

Text copyright © 2017 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

Product code: JG-539

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