St James's Park from the north-east; view of the park seen from the eastern end of the canal and looking directly along it towards a distant building, probably Tart Hall, in the foreground three statues of classical figures, the central one representing a gladiator, along both sides of the canal, rows of young trees forming avenues running outwards diagonally, on the extreme left beyond a wall with a gateway, a double-gabled house with balcony and to its right other buildings, to the right a maypole (?) and beyond it the Mall visible through an avenue of taller trees Pen and brown ink, over graphite, with grey, brown and blue-green wash; on two conjoined sheets
- 1660-1679 (c.)
- Height: 282 millimetres
- Width: 900 millimetres
LB attributes this drawing to Hugh Howard.
K Sloan, Noble Art 2000
Most of the Dutch artists painting in Britain in the late seventeenth century, including Danckert and Siberechts, were brought over to provide 'country house portraits' or topographical drawings for reference collections like the Amsterdam merchant Laurens van der Hem's 46-volume Atlas now in the National Library, Vienna.
Dankerts was trained as an engraver in his birthplace, The Hague and but travelled to Italy with his brother in 1653 to study painting. In London from at least 1664, he worked mainly for the court, painting large classical landscapes as well as all the sea-ports in England and Wales and all the Royal Palaces for Charles II and four further versions for Samuel Pepys's dining room.
His finished oils have been described as stiff, but the drawings that survive have an immediacy that indicates they were done from the motif and fall into two main types, those drawn on the spot for country house scenes and the more loose landscapes somewhat akin to Talman and Manby. The present two views in particular demonstrate all the characteristics of works done with a camera obscura. They have a panoramic approach with little detail in the foreground which instead is a vast empty expanse of grass etc., leading to a distant central vanishing point. Little has been written on the use of camera obscura in England at this time, but it was in common use in Holland and many members of the Royal Society were engaged in refining perspective and optical drawing machines at the time, including Robert Hooke who was working on a new more portable and effective camera obscura of his own invention in the 1680s.
Danckert’s work is included here neither as example of an amateur nor as a drawing master, but rather as the type of work that amateur virtuosi knew, admired and collected. The view of St James belonged to one of these, Hugh Howard, and indeed was thought to be by him when it was acquired by the British Museum. The attribution to Howard was placed in doubt when the Museum acquired the other drawing with which it obviously forms a pair. They seem to have been drawn to show the improvements made to the park shortly after the Restoration, as they show the newly planted trees and Le Sueur's statue of a gladiator, erected in the park in 1661. The park is seen from the eastern end of the canal looking towards an unidentified distant building, with the tree-lined Mall running along the right side and other unidentified buildings on the left. Whitehall from St James’s Park also shows the trees lining Pall mall on the left, and the Banqueting House on Whitehall in the centre directly ahead, with the canal, St Margaret’s Church and the Abbey to the right. They are probably studies for one of the many royal commissions Danckerts received and this seems confirmed by ownership by Howard, who was at one time Keeper of the State Papers.
Literature: Waterhouse, p. 117; Stainton and White, pp. 160-1; Kemp, pp. 188-90.
Dutch Panoramic XVIIc
2000 May-Sep, BM P&D, 'A Noble Art', no. 12(a)
- Topographic representation of: London
- (Europe,British Isles,England,London)
Prints & Drawings
St James's Park from the NE; view of the park seen from the eastern end of the canal and looking directly along it towards a distant building, probably Tart Hall, in the foreground three statues of classical figures, the central one representing a gladiator, along both sides of the canal, rows of young trees forming avenues running outwards diagonally, on the extreme l beyond a wall with a gateway, a double-gabled house with balcony and to its r other buildings, to the r a maypole (?) and beyond it the Mall visible through an avenue of taller trees Pen and brown ink, over graphite, with grey, brown and blue-green wash; on two conjoined sheets
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Object reference number: PDB2759
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