- Museum number
Lord Rous's Park, Henham Hall, near Beccles, Suffolk; view of an open space, with woods beyond, the trunk of a tree at left. 1801
- Production date
Height: 263 millimetres
Width: 371 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The following is taken from L. Stainton, ‘British Landscape Watercolours, 1600-1860’, 1985, no. 111:
The younger brother of John Varley, Cornelius was brought up by an uncle who made watches and designed scientific apparatus; most of his own career was devoted to instrument making. The rediscovery of a large number of watercolours and drawings by him, dating mostly from the years 1800 to 1825, revealed him as a landscape artist of considerable talent, and on the whole a more interesting one than his brother. No doubt because he was not a full-time professional artist he never relied on conventional formulae and his sketching style is marked by an unusual directness.
This watercolour, dating from Varley's visit to Norfolk and Suffolk in 1801, was made in the park at Henham Hall, the seat of the Lords Rous (later Earls of Stradbroke). It predates his invention, in 1809, of a form of camera lucida, registered in 1811 as the Patent Graphic Telescope, "combining one or two reflecting surfaces with a simple kind of telescope that inverts the object . . . and apparently projecting the said image flat on a table, so that it may be easily traced on paper . . ."
From Lowell Libson, "Cornelius Varney: The Art of Observation", 2005, p71:
Henham Hall which formed the centre of the estate which Varley visited [in the winter of 1801] was built in the 1790's to designs by James Wyatt for John Rous, first Earl of Stradbroke and the park, which lay principally to the south of the hall and covered over four thousand acres, was laid out by Humphrey Repton in 1791. Repton's designs were not radical and incorporated much of the seventeenth century parkland belonging to the original Tudor house, including the old Lime Avenue and the ancient Tuttles Wood with its Saxon ditches and ancient copse.
Henham was originally the seat of the Earls of Suffolk. Sir Anthony Rous of Dennington purchased Henham in 1545 from Sir Arthur Hopton of Blythburgh, who had been granted the lands by Henry VIII following the execution of Edmund de la Pole in 1513, Earl of Suffolk.
During the nineteenth century Henham was regarded as one of the foremost estates in Suffolk. As with so many large houses, Henham became unmanageable in the early twentieth century, agricultural depression as well as social, political and economic changes, combined with a complicated family feud meant the house fell into decay and was finally demolished in 1953 leaving only the stables, lodges and the parkland surviving.
Varley evidently produced a fairly large body of wrok during his stay with the Rous family as can be seen from the inclusion of at least three lots of studies relating to his visit in the 1875 sale at Christie's.
For further curatorial comment on Cornelius Varley’s invention and use of the ‘Patent Graphic Telescope’ see 1936,1211.5.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1973,21 Feb-16 Mar, Colnaghi, 'Drawings and Watercolours by Cornelius Varley', no. 1
1985 BM, British Landscape Watercolours 1600-1860, no.111
1993 Jan-Apr, RA, 'British Watercolours', no. 311
1995 Jul-Oct, Scottish NPG, 'Scottish Photography' p.110,no 6
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number