- Museum number
A rent in Wetherlam, study for the painting 'Miners' Path, near Coniston'; small torrent running through a deep cleft in hills, with a miners' path with two figures climbing up a hill on the left and dark clouds over the hills in the distance. 1874
Watercolour, in original frame
- Production date
Height: 738 millimetres (frame)
Height: 365 millimetres (sight when framed)
Width: 611 millimetres (frame)
Width: 492 millimetres (sight when framed)
- Curator's comments
- This watercolour study was made in preparation for an oil painting exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1874: 'Miners' Path, near Coniston' (no. 281). The watercolour was exhibited the following year at the Society of Painters in Watercolour (OWCS) summer exhibition under the title 'A rent in Wetherlam'. The labels on the back of the original frame describe the location as Tilberthwaite Ghyll, Cumberland. There were copper mines near Coniston and the path depicted led up the side of Tilberthwaite Ghyll; Wetherlam is visible in the distance.
The frame also has pasted on the backboard a clipping of a review of the exhibition of the Society of Painters in Watercolours from the 'Athenaeum', 8 May 1875, p.6282:
'...From the same painter we have a study of a highly finished kind for his noble picture, 'The Miner's Path', lately at the Royal Academy, and quite contrast to the last; it is called A Rent in Weatherlam (97), i.e., the rugged bed of a small torrent and the rocks at its side, both belonging to a great hill, over the shoulder of which greater hills appear, - that shoulder is in the shadow of a huge dun and grey cloud, that wreaths the summit in its folds. The presence of this shadow is ominous of evil, and the sunlight on the rest of the view is pale where it lies on a rugged footway, up which figures, reduced to pigmies by the gigantic forms about them, are toiling. It is difficult to do justice to the pathos of this picture. The connoisseur will appreciate the art employed in modelling the contours, hollows and hillocks, cliffs, and chasms of the enormous hill side, and admire the foreshortening of the torrent's path and the painting of the flat cliff on our right in front. A dominant idea is always invaluable in landscape art, and the pathos of this work is absolutely spontaneous...'
The watercolour was originally owned by one of the artist's daughters, Violet Benson, and passed through the hands of her descendants until it was sent to Christie's and was there acquired by the British Museum in its original frame, which will be retained in storage.
Christopher Newall has kindly provided the exhibition history and provenance for this work but notes (in an e-mail correspondence 15.2.05): 'Humphrey Roberts owned a watercolour of this title, which he lent to the Hunt exhibition at the Fine Art Society in 1884 (no.60). If these are one and the same drawing, Roberts must have given or sold it back to Hunt. In any case, it was not among the Hunt drawings included in the Roberts sale at Christie's in 1908. It may surely be identified as the watercolour entitled The Miner's Path, Tilberthwaite, Cumberland, shown in Liverpool in 1897-8. I can't see it anywhere else.'
Label text from 'Prints and Drawings: Recent Acquisitions', 2007:
Alfred William Hunt (1830-1896)
A rent in Wetherlam; study for the painting Miner’s Path near Coniston, 1874
Watercolour over graphite, in original frame
This watercolour study was made in preparation for an oil painting exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1874. The watercolour was exhibited the following year at the Society of Painters in Watercolour (OWCS) summer exhibition under the title 'A rent in Wetherlam'. The labels on the back of this original frame describe the location as Tilberthwaite Ghyll, Cumberland. There were copper mines near Coniston and the path depicted led up the side of Tilberthwaite Ghyll; Wetherlam is visible in the distance.
The watercolour was originally owned by one of the artist's daughters, Violet Benson, and passed through the hands of her descendants until it was sent to Christie's. The British Museum acquired it after it was bought in, using funds provided by the Friends of Prints and Drawings. The Department has been building up its collection of Victorian landscapes; this later dark and dramatic example complements earlier works by Hunt from the 1850s already in the collection and another recent purchase of an 1861 view on the banks of the river Greta.
Presented by Friends of Prints and Drawings
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1875, London, Old Water-Colour Society (97), as 'A rent in Wetherlam'
1884, London, Fine Art Society (60), Pictures and Drawings of Mr Alfred W. Hunt, as 'A Rent in Wetherham', lent by Mr Humphrey Roberts
1897-8, Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery (56), Memorial Exhibition of Pictures by Alfred W. Hunt, R.W.S., as 'The Miner's Path, Tilberthwaite, Cumberland', lent by Mrs Alfred Hunt
2007 Jun-Nov, BM, room 90, 'Prints and Drawings: Recent Acquisitions'
2017 23 Feb-27 Aug, London, BM, G90, Places of the Mind: British Landscape watercolours 1850-1950
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Humphrey Roberts, by 1884 (? see exhibition history); the artist's widow, Margaret Hunt, by 1897-8; Alfred and Margaret's second daughter, Venetia Benson, nee Hunt; Amerye Cooper; Margaret Kingsley Cooper; Annabel Oxford; Christie's, 18 November 2004 (118) (where bought in); purchased by British Museum.
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