Sir Charles D'Oyly, Pilchard Fishing South Devon -Early 19th-century watercolour


An original early 19th-century watercolour painting, Sir Charles D'Oyly Pilchard Fishing, South Devon.

This beautiful painting by Sir Charles D’Oyly shows pilchard fishing boats in harbour on the south coast of Devon in the early 19th century. The quiet scene at still water is rendered through an economy of brushstroke and palette, whilst fine detail of figures and masts is picked out with the deftest dabs of white bodycolour.

The influence of D’Oyly’s tutor, George Chinnery - pre-eminent amongst the Western painters of his day living in the ‘Orient’ - can be seen in this watercolour’s style. Although the subject is English, the loose, economical style resembles Chinnery’s Chinese landscapes at Macau, which were far more impressionistic in style than the topographical work of his English contemporaries working in the East.

Behind the serenity of the scene is an industry which was once a mainstay for its local people; pilchard fishing is the oldest large-scale, well-documented fishery in the south-west of England. Throughout the summer months large shoals of pilchards were caught off the coast and taken to pilchard cellars for processing. The pilchards were squeezed flat and the oil that drained out was mostly sold as lamp oil. The fish was purchased almost exclusively by Italian Catholics for religious fasting. Hundreds of families in every fishing village were involved in catching, preserving and selling the pilchards, and many ancillary industries such as coopers, rope and sail makers, merchants, and shipbuilders were also dependent on the industry.

Signed lower left.
The painting is accompanied by a separate piece of card from a historic mount, which gives the painting's subject as 'Pilchard fishing, South Devon'.
Very minor age toning, as shown. There is a tiny patch of abrasion, showing as white at the lower edge, right of the signature. There are historic glue marks to the verso of the paper, which do not adversely affect the front. Please see photos for detail.
13.1cm x 20.3cm.

Sir Charles D’Oyly, seventh baronet (1781-1845) was a prolific artist, known for his especially fine draughtsmanship. D’Oyly was born in India, son of Sir John-Hadley D'Oyly, 6th Baronet, of the East India Company. He spent his working life in India with the Bengal Civil Service, based in Calcutta, Dacca and Patna from 1798 to 1838. Whilst at Dacca he met the artist George Chinnery and became his pupil from 1808 to 1812; the men became close friends and D’Oyly’s style was greatly influenced by Chinnery. As an amateur artist D’Oyly was greatly admired by the European community, and he became the centre of a fashionable group devoted to drawing. He published many books featuring engravings and lithographs with Indian subject matter, including ‘The Antiquities of Dacca’, which became an important social document of the period.

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Product code: JN-878

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