- Museum number
Portrait of the Sketching Society, study for a painting exhibited at the summer exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1838; 11 artists in an interior, four seated, the others standing, with easel in centre on which is placed drawing that the men inspect. 1836
Pen and grey ink, with brown and grey wash, heightened with white
- Production date
Height: 214 millimetres
Width: 295 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- In 1838 John Partridge exhibited the oil painting ‘Sketch of a Sketching Society; the Critical Moment’ at the Royal Academy. The present drawing is a copy after the painting, used by Joseph Hogarth as the design for the print, a version of which is also in the British Museum collection (also 1887.1116.2). That it is not a preliminary drawing for the work exhibited can be deduced from the care the artist has taken to demarcate with white bodycolour the areas that would remain white on the final print copy.
The Sketching Society was founded in 1808 by Francis Stevens and brothers Alfred and John Chalon (the BM has an album of drawings produced by the Society members in 1810, see 1993,0508.2.1). In his autobiographical reminiscences Charles Leslie described the proceedings thus:
Its meetings are held weekly, on Friday nights, during the months of November, December, January, February, March and April. The members assemble, at six o’clock, at each other’s houses in rotation. All the materials for drawing are prepared by the host of the evening, who is, for that night, president. He gives a subject, from which each makes a design. The sketching concludes at ten o’clock, then there is supper, and after that the drawings are reviewed, and remain the property of him at whose house they are made.’ (Leslie, p. 119)
In the current drawing Leslie can be seen in the centre of the group, leaning on the table with his hands clasped. Standing to the far left is Alfred Chalon, leaning on the chair of his brother John. To his right we find J. C. Robertson (standing), Joshua Cristall (seated) and Thomas Uwins (leaning on his arm). Immediately behind Leslie is Robert Trewick Bone, to Leslie’s right is J. S. Stump (seated) and G. F. Robson (standing). Partridge himself stands at the easel, implying that he is the night’s president and the scene is set in his own home. Lastly, seated to the far right is C. Stanfield. Oil studies by Partridge (dated 1836) of Bone, Uwins, Partridge, J. J. Chalon, and Leslie are in the National Portrait Gallery Collection (NPG 4233, 4231, 5341, 4230 and 4232 respectively), while that of C. Stanfield can be found in the Royal Academy Collection (ref 03/699). The location of the completed painting from which the present drawing is taken is no longer known. It was last recorded in the collection of the Brigg family at Kildwick Hall, Keighley in 1913. However, the family left the house in 1945, and the property was subsequently broken up and sold in 1955.
J. Hamilton, The Sketching Society, 1799-1851, London, 1971.
C. Leslie, Autobiographical Recollections, T.Taylor (ed.), Wakefield, 1978.
[This curatorial comment was written by Olivia Ghosh, Anne Christopherson Fellow, Dept of Prints and Drawings, 2017]
This drawing was formerly placed as Anonymous, Period IV.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1979 Jun-Jul, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, 'Stanfield', no. 135
1979 Aug-Oct, Tyne & Wear Museum, 'Stanfield', no. 135
1979 Oct-Nov, Sunderland AG, 'Stanfield', no. 135
2001 Mar-Jul, Museum of London, 'Creative Quarters'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number