- Museum number
A river landscape; the banks of the Greta, the river in the foreground, with a tree-covered rocky bank beyond. 1861
Graphite and watercolour with touches of bodycolour, with gum arabic and scratching out
- Production date
Height: 241 millimetres
Width: 340 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This watercolour was painted by Alfred William Hunt at an early stage in his career when he was absorbing the techniques of Pre-Raphaelite painters and under the influence of Ruskin's writings. The drawing displays Hunt's painstaking technique, his stippled brushwork revealing his close observation of nature. When it was acquired the location had not been identified for certain but it was thought to have been drawn in North Yorkshire. Kim Sloan noted it resembled the banks of the river Greta in County Durham. This site was identified with more certainty by Christopher Newall in his research for the Tate Britain exhibition Pre-Raphaelite Vision (no. 96) by comparison with drawings in a pocket sketchbook used on a later painting expedition to Rokeby. Christopher Newall has since suggested that the watercolour is the one Hunt showed in the 1863 summer exhibition of the Old Water Colour Society (cat.192) under the title 'Rokeby', described in a review as showing 'a moorland stream rushing amongst rocks of sandstone, purple-hued and angular, closed in by trees in summer pride and flecked with sunlight and shade' ('Athenaeum', 2 May 1863, p.592). The Greta banks were one of Hunt's favourite painting grounds from his first exhibition of a Greta subject in 1859 until the late 1870s.
The following label was written by Kim Sloan for Places of the Mind, 2017:
Hunt made several studies of the effects of different times of day or the season by working in at least two locations each day, for a morning and evening subject, focusing especially on the effects of light. He settled in Durham in 1861 and the banks of the River Greta became a favourite sketching area for the rest of his life. Like his great admirer Ruskin, Hunt believed that landscape reflected an incomprehensible but divinely ordered creation and it was the painter’s business to reveal its spiritual truths.
See also E. House et al., 'Rokeby, Poetry and Pleasure: Walter Scott and Turner in Teesdale', exh. cat. Bowes Museum, 2013, p.57.
K. Sloan, 'The 'tormentingly elsuive' art of drawing landscape', in K. Sloan (ed.), Places of the Mind: British watercolour landscapes 1850-1950, (London, 2017), pp. 24-67.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
? 1863 Old Water Colour Society, 192, as 'Rokeby'
2001 May-Sep BM, P&D, 'Paper Assets' (no cat.)
2004 Feb-May, London, Tate Britain, 'Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth to Nature', no.96
2004 June-Sept, Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie, 'Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth to Nature', no.
2004-2005 Oct-Jan, Madrid, Fundació "la Caixa", 'Pre-Rapahaelite Vision: Truth to Nature', no.
2013 Jan-Apr, The Bowes Museum, Rokeby
2017 23 Feb-27 Aug, London, BM, G90, Places of the Mind: British Landscape watercolours 1850-1950
- 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