- Museum number
Woolwich from Powis Street; view down a long road to Woolwich, at the left an octagonal building among gardens, an officer, a man on horseback and two girls coming down the road, a the left a woman leaving the road by a stile, and another with a basket on her head meeting her
Watercolour, over graphite
- Production date
Height: 255 millimetres
Width: 420 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- See also 1904,0819.62 for another view of Powis Street, Woolwich, featuring the same octaganal building.
The following entry is taken from Kim Sloan, 'A Noble Art: Amateur Artists and Drawing Masters c.1600-1800', (2000), pp. 137-9:
Sandby's connection with the military did not end in 1752 when he returned to London from the Military Survey of Scotland. His brother remained on the pay roll of the Drawing Office for the rest of his life, although his duties were directly to William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (George III's uncle). The Duke ensured Sandby family connections with Windsor through the 1750s and when he died in 1765, the new Duke of Cumberland, Henry Frederick, George III's younger brother, retained Thomas Sandby's appointment as his draughtsman, although it now took the form of Deputy to the Duke in his appointment as Ranger of Windsor Great Park. During this time, Windsor Castle was still defended as a military fortress, and many of its inhabitants were soldiers.
In 1768, the Sandbys were among the group of artists who finally successfully petitioned the King to found the Royal Academy; but also that year, Paul was appointed chief drawing master at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. It is significant but has not previously been noted in this connection that the Woolwich Academy was under the inspection of the Board of Ordnance. In attempts to attribute works by the Sandby brothers, the general rule has always been that if it contained detailed architectural elements or was a wide panoramic view drawn with a camera obscura, it was probably by Thomas, who was Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy; any well-drawn and substantial figures were possibly inserted by Paul. This, however, is an oversimplification of their talents, as Paul had received the same training in perspective, mathematics and surveying at the Ordnance Drawing Office as his brother and had an equally remarkable mastery of perspective. However, the fact that their skills as military topographers overlapped with their abilities as landscape artists is clear from Thomas's instructions to his students at the Academy that they must be able, as he and his brother were, to 'draw after real Buildings without the use of Rules and Compasses, in the manner of Landskip Painters' (G. Worsley, quoted in Roberts, Sandby, p. 25).
This combination of an engineer's and a professional landscapist's art is precisely the type of drawing Paul Sandby was expected to teach gentlemen cadets at Woolwich in order to prepare them for examination for a Commission in the Royal Corps of Artillery and Engineers. They were not expected to be able to produce maps, but they must be able to convey the lie (or slopes) of land, harbours and fortifications in such a way that commanders could deploy troops and artillery.
In their drawing lessons with Sandby, they copied his landscapes in Indian ink to learn perspective in practice and light and shade, followed by more difficult landscapes coloured from nature, civil and military architecture and perspective, and finally 'describing all the various Kinds of Ground, with its Inequalities, as necessary for the Drawing of Plans; and Drawings from Nature'(1776 Orders, p. 25). The latter were views taken 'about Woolwich and other places; which teaches them at the same time to break ground, and forms the eye to the knowledge of it' (Jarry, p. 33). The present view down a long road to Woolwich, includes an octagonal building and figures which would provide a useful exercise in drawing accurately from nature. Another watercolour of Powis Street showing the same octagonal building was also in Gravatt's collection (LB 27). Powis Street was not formally laid out until 1800 and grew into the modern town's main shopping street.
Literature: George, Visct Townshend, Master General of the Ordnance, 'Rules & Orders for the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich', 1776; Wm D. Jones, 'Records of the Royal Military Academy 1741-1840', Woolwich 1851, passim; H D Buchanan-Dunlop, ed., 'Records of the Royal Military Academy 1741-1892', Woolwich, 1895, passim: the edition of 1892 is illustrated with costumes of cadets copied from sketches by Colonel Gravatt [c.1814-28?], formerly Inspector, RMA
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2000 May-Sep, BM P&D, 'A Noble Art', no.97
2009-10 Possible loan to Nottingham Castle Museum, Sandby, and other venues
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number