- Museum number
Richmond Castle from the SE; view from the Swale valley, town at centre, Castle with tall Keep to right on hill, at extreme left a man standing with horse. 1674
Pen and black ink and grey wash, and watercolour (?)
- Production date
Height: 177 millimetres
Width: 293 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- K Sloan, Noble Art 2000
A younger son of landed gentry in Durham, Place was articled to an attorney at Gray’s Inn in 1665, and like several other amateurs in this study, he ‘did not like the practice of the Law [and] had a great inclination to drawing’ (Vertue, VI, 71). Unlike other amateurs, however, he actually left the law and practiced professionally for a time as an etcher, and although he was never apprenticed to Hollar or any other artist, which he regretted, he knew Hollar well and worked with him copying plates for illustrated books.
Place did not depend entirely upon his income as an engraver for his living, since he made frequent, lengthy sketching trips from at least 1677 when he toured the Isle of Wight and France. The following year he visited the West Country and South Wales with William Lodge (cat. 23). This was before his father’s death in 1681 when he inherited £500 and an annual income of £30. Place had family in York and in the mid-1670s he executed a number of drawings in a topographical style close to the manner of Hollar while on sketching tours with Lodge in the area around the city. Place probably lived near his famly estate in Dinsdale but travelled frequently to York where he lodged with Henry Gyles (cat. 20) in Micklegate until he leased part of King’s Manor in 1692 and settled permanently in the city.
The British Museum’s large collection of drawings by Place indicate that initally he made a wide panoramic sketch of a view on the spot, using pen and ink in a loose sketchy manner, with quickly brushed in washes, often on two or three sheets pasted together. From these, he would make a more carefully finished drawing, again on two or three sheets, laying in washes first, usually in brown or grey but occasionally using watercolour as here. Fine pen and ink work picked out details of buildings and foliage, adding figures, boats and horses appropriate to the site.
This view of Richmond departs from this normal practice in many ways and as a consequence looks less like Hollar than most of Place’s drawings of this type. It lacks the black border that outlines most of his surviving works, and it appears to be the centre portion of a larger, more panoramic view that has been cut down. It is an anomaly not only for this period, but for his work as a whole. It indicates that Place has been looking at the work of other artists,- perhaps prints after Italian landscape compositions, and shows an awareness of the traditional use of foreground in a composition which is not as apparent in his panoramic and usual topographical drawings. The figure of a man by his horse with two hooves overlapping the picture plane indicates an artist who is willing to play with pictorial conventions and is perhaps not taking himself as an artist too seriously - ie an amateur. This seems to be confirmed by Vertue when the two met in 1727 and Vertue commented that Place ‘had means enough to live on’ and ‘passed his time at ease. being a sociable & pleasant Companion much beloved’ (Vertue II, 54). This drawing remained in the artist’s hands so it was not commissioned or intended as a gift.
Literature: Richard Tyler, Francis Place 1647-1723, exh. York City Art Gallery 1971, no. 7 and passim
There are many other views of Richmond and its castle by Place: a study of the castle walls in this collection; and others in Leeds city Art Gallery and the V&A; and one with Guy Peppiatt Fine Art in 2010, similarly from a distance although a different angle, in pen and brown ink and wahses, inscribed and dated 1719, the same date as a view of York in York City Art Gallery.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1971 Apr, City AG, York, 'Francis Place', no.7
1971 May, Kenwood, 'Francis Place', no.7
2000 May-Sep, BM P&D, 'A Noble Art', no.14
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number