- Museum number
Beech trees; trunks and lower branches, growing from a knole, wooded hills beyond.
Watercolour over faint black chalk sketch
- Production date
- 1870-1880 (circa)
Height: 140 millimetres
Width: 185 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Joseph Needham was a landscape painter living in London in 1862 and an unsuccessful candidate for the New Watercolour Society. This lovely drawing may have been done as part of a series to illustrate a book on trees and was one of a group from the Archive of the Glasgow publishers Blackie and Sons, purchased by Abbott and Holder and included in their list for January 2005. Much of the rest of the publisher's archive was acquired by the University of Glasgow c. 1998.
Donato Esposito has discovered that in 1885 the following advertisement was placed in Henry Blackburn (ed.), 'Academy Notes 1885: No.XI' (London: Chatto & Windus, 1885), n.p.: Joseph Needham, 'Studies of trees' (London: Blackie & Son), from the series 'Vere Foster's Watercolour Books' and described as comprising 'Eighteen examples in colors [sic], and thirty-three drawings in pencil. With descriptions of the trees, and instructions for drawing and painting. In eight parts 4to, 1s. each; or cloth elegant, first series, 5s.; second series, 5s.' He has not been able to locate a copy of the book.
The following label was written by Catherine Boël for Places of the Mind, 2017:
During the mid-1800s, manuals written by professional artists or drawing masters (often one and the same) became increasingly popular. This plethora of publications was eclipsed by the phenomenon of the Vere Foster series with its 192 titles on a range of subjects from handwriting copy books to drawing copy books. It became the brand name for many artists’ manuals, including Needham’s Studies of Trees: in Pencil and in Water-Colours’ (n.d.). Needham accompanied his own drawings, such as this watercolour, with a description of the trees and thorough instructions on how to draw and paint them.
See also K. Sloan, 'The 'tormentingly elusive' 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
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