Collection online

drawing

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1965,0213.5

  • Description

    Unidentified composition; with figures falling from a tower, another figure standing with right arm raised in the foreground, set in a rocky landscape Pen and black ink, over black chalk (?)

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1771-1836
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 278 millimetres
    • Width: 199 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    See K. Sloan, 'A Noble Art', BM exh. cat., 2000, no. 163 (text below):
    John Brown had been part of Fuseli's circle in Rome in the 1770s and acted as Charles Townley's draughtsman on a tour of Sicily. He made drawings of Townley's marbles in Park Place in 1786 (see cat.167, reg. no. 1995,0506.8), the year he taught Ottley in London. Many of Brown's fluid mannerisms so reminiscent of Fuseli are evident in Ottley's drawings, but they also show that he was aware of the work of other members of the cosmopolitan circle in Rome in the 1770s, as well as friends like the Dutchman Humbert de Superville or George Wallis who was illustrating Ossian when Ottley himself met them in Rome during his long sojourn in 1790s.
    The subject of the present drawing is not known, but may bear some relationship to the equally obscure drawings of giants amongst rocks by 'The Master of the Giants', an un-identified artist working with Brown and the others in Rome in the 1770s. Translated by Ottley through the medium of Flaxman's neo-classical outline combined with his knowledge of the early prints of the Renaissance, by Pollaiuolo and Mantegna, the resulting compositions were strange images quite different from those being produced by his contemporaries.

    This drawing may have been a preparatory sketch for the series of illustrations to the Old Testament Ottley was working on in the mid 1790s. The images were much more bleak in this second series; a study for warriors on horseback from Genesis 14:15 in the Museum's collection employs his characteristic repetition of gestures, particularly outstretched arms with swords in hand, underlining his study of the images of battling nudes and gods by the early printmakers mentioned above. The plates were engraved as aquatints by Piroli and published in 1797 in a small edition. The thirteen original copper plates were acquired by the Huntington Library in 1993.

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  • Location

    Not on display (British Roy PIV)

  • Exhibition history

    1966-7 BM, Recent Acquisitions, no.21 2000 May-Sep, BM P&D, 'A Noble Art', no.163

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1965

  • Acquisition notes

    This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1965,0213.5

Unidentified composition; with figures falling from a tower, another figure standing with r arm raised in the foreground, set in a rocky landscape Pen and black ink, over black chalk (?)

Recto

Unidentified composition; with figures falling from a tower, another figure standing with r arm raised in the foreground, set in a rocky landscape Pen and black ink, over black chalk (?)

Image description

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