- Museum number
Students at the British Institution; with artists copying from pictures on the wall, the artists include from left to right, H Howard, G Green, Thomas Rowlandson, Watts, Miss Jackson, D Guest, Miss F Reinagle, Pocock, Dixon, Celli, Miss Hays, Benjamin West, unknown, Samuel William Reynolds I, Miss C Reinagle, V Green and Masquerier. 1805
Pen and brown ink, with watercolour
- Production date
Height: 315 millimetres
Width: 531 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The British Museum holds two of Alfred Edward Chalon’s satirical drawings of artists copying paintings at the British Institution, evidence of the vast attraction exerted by the British Institution’s early Old Master’s exhibition. The Institution was set up in 1805 by a number of prominent men, with the Queen as patron, and its early subscribers included some of the most important collectors and individuals associated with the arts in Britain. The first exhibition of the British Institution was held in London in 1806. With the aim of encouraging the careers of young artists in the highest branches of art still in mind, the Governors decided to use the gallery after the close of the exhibition to display Old Master paintings to be copied.
The figures in Chalon’s watercolour (1879,0614.757) have been identified as, from left to right, H. Howard and Rowlandson, with Green in front; Douglas Guest, the tall man talking to Miss Jackson; Miss Reinagle and N. Pocock; W. Dixon, Celli and Miss Hayes behind Benjamin West in the hat; an unidentified back; S.W. Reynolds painting in the foreground; Miss C. Reineagle with Valentine Green, Secretary to the Governors and finally Masquerier. The earliest detailed description of the individuals in the drawings is in F.G. Stephens’s article ‘The British Institution: Its aims and history, part I’ in ‘The Portfolio’, 1884, pp.215-220, however he does not provide the sources for his identification. F.G. Stephens worked cataloguing the British Museum’s Department’s Satirical Prints from at least 1870 until 1884, and wrote the article five years after the drawings were acquired by the British Museum. He may have based his discussion of the individuals in these drawings from the inscriptions on original mounts which are now lost; names were subsequently inscribed on the British Museum’s standard mounts. Binyon also named them in his catalogue of our British Drawings published in 1898 and presumably his source was Stephens’s article.
The paintings on view include Claude’s ‘Embarkation of St. Ursula’ (then in the Angerstein collection, and purchased for the National Gallery in 1824) and Rembrant’s ‘The Mill’. Joseph Farington, who knew A.E. Chalon and described encounters with him in several instances in his diaries, records his visits to the British Institution where he saw artists copying pictures, and some individuals and paintings depicted in the Chalon drawings match the information in Farington’s diary entries.
Further lit: Giles Waterfield (ed.), ‘Palaces of Art: Art Galleries in Britain, 1790-1990’, Lund Humphries Publishers, London, 1991, pp.129-132; F.G. Stephens’s article ‘The British Institution: Its aims and history, part I’ in ‘The Portfolio’, 1884, pp.215-220; C. T. Seifert, 'Rembrandt: Britain's Discovery of the Master' Edinburgh, exh.cat. 2018, no. 74.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1974 July-Dec, BM, Portrait Drawings, no.251
1991/2 Nov-March, London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Palaces of Art, no. D12
1992 March-May, Edinburgh, NG Scotland, Palaces of Art, no. D12
1993 March-April, Hove Museum & AG, The Romantic Windmill, no.40
1993 May-June, Lincoln, Usher Gallery, The Romantic Windmill
1993 July-Sep, Sudbury, Gainsborough's House, The Romantic Windmill
2018 7 Jul-14 Oct, Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery, "Rembrandt & Britain"
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- £70 17s for 16 drawings from Joseph Hogarth
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number