- Museum number
Kingstown, St Vincent; view above the town and harbour, with Fort Charlotte beyond and the sea left, ships and boats in the bay, in the foreground several black figures with a cart, two white horsemen right and a man on a mule left
- Production date
- 1796 (circa)
Height: 317 millimetres
Width: 486 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Gravatt was in the West Indies in 1795-6, and made prints of St Vincent (1867,1214.79-81).
K Sloan, Noble Art 2000
William Gravatt was a Royal Engineer who seems to have received his training at Woolwich where he would have been taught drawing by Sandby. He was commissioned in 1791 and served in the West Indies. He was made Captain in 1799 and the published records of the academy indicate his involvement with the Military Academy continued in 1814 when Lieutenant-Colonel Gravatt was appointed Assistant Inspector of the Academy, becoming full Inspector in 1828. The 1895 edition of the Records of the Royal Military Academy was illustrated with plates after his sketches of the uniforms of the cadets through different periods of the Academy's history. By the date of this last publication, Gravatt would have been fairly widely known as a disciple of Sandby. He had formed a large collection of his works (several are now in the V&A and BM) and William Sandby published excerpts from Gravatt's diary in his biography of the Sandbys in 1892. These provide a full detailed description of Sandby's method of working in bodycolours, as he watched Sandby paint a 'picture in water colours' of Conway Castle over a three-day period in 1802, another of an oak in 1805 and an oil painting in 1807 (the whole of the first two are transcribed in Hardie).
The Museum has a watercolour view of Ludlow Castle, Shropshire by Gravatt which is reminiscent of the type of watercolours which Sandby used for the plates in The Virtuosi's Museum (1778-81). In that publication he worked up finished landscapes from drawings, watercolours and sketches sent to him by his amateur and military pupils, many of whom were younger sons of important landowners and aristocrats, including Charles Greville and the Hon. Mr Dawson. They were engraved and published with a facing text in which he was careful to acknowledge the person who had sent him the sketch, as well as the owners of houses or estates depicted. It was reissued later as A Collection of One Hundred and Fifty Select Views in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland with texts in English and French. In the Preface he acknowledged that he had been given the idea for the publication by the fact that Catherine the Great had requested similar views of the country to adorn the cream-ware dinner service Wedgwood had created for her in the 1770s. Sandby successfully built upon its success by providing a similar project which was able to reach a much wider audience through the medium of prints.
At the same time he was building on the constantly growing demand for printed views, and it is natural that his pupils, whether military or civilian, often stationed in exotic foreign lands, should wish to make their own contribution and demonstrate it publicly through the medium of prints. For military amateurs it must have been a form of self-promotion, as nearly every example of this type of drawing, whether merely a sketch, a watercolour or a carefully worked bodycolour painting as here, appeared shortly afterwards in print. Gravatt is unusual in that he engraved his own prints in aquatint, the medium that Sandby had played such a large part in introducing to England.
Gravatt's view shows the town and harbour of Kingstown, St Vincent, with Fort Charlotte beyond. He plays down the military aspect of the view more than he would in a drawing for military engineering purposes and provides his British audience with the details they would find most interesting - the general view, the exotic vegetation, and the local inhabitants in the foreground in a cart, with two men on horses representing the controlling presence of Britain to the left. The view is one of three views of the town, harbour and British forts of Kingston in the Museum and two etchings all by Gravatt (1867-12-14-75,77, 79,81).
Literature: Buchanon-Dunlop, intro (n.p.); Hardie, I, pp. 106-8; Herrmann, p. 67
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1987 Feb 5 - May 25, BM, 'An A-Z of P&D'
2000 May-Sep, BM P&D, 'A Noble Art', no.102
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number