- Museum number
Uncle Toby and the Widow Wadman, a scene from 'Tristram Shandy'; woman holding a handkerchief up to her eye, showing it to a man in wig and red coat, both seated on a bench in front of a map of Dunquerqe, a pipe in his hand and his hat and cane on the floor by his foot
Watercolour and bodycolour
- Production date
- 1829-1840 (related to an oil exhibited in 1831)
Height: 262 millimetres (visible - to be confirmed when removed from mount)
Width: 190 millimetres (visible - tbc when removed from mount)
- Curator's comments
- This watercolour is a reduced version of Leslie's famous painting exhibited in 1831 of which several examples exist at V&A (one) and Tate (two) in which the Widow Wadman tries to stir the affections of her neighbour Captain Shandy by pretending she has something in her eye. It is from chapter 24, volume 8, of Laurence Sterne's novel 'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman' (1760-7). His uncle Toby re-enacted battles in miniature in his garden from his sentry box where the widow laid seige to his affections. This version differs in a number of details, notably in that the widow is younger and more modestly covered by a cape than in the versions in oil. There is a pencil sketch of the subject in the BM (1998,U.15) It is not clear when the watercolour version was painted, but the BM has engravings after the painting published in the 'The Art Journal' by Lumb Stocks, several engraved by Danforth in 1833 (published by Colnaghi) and a wood engraving published in the Graphic in 1890. The Danforth print is based on the V&A painting.
See W.G. Day. Charles Robert Leslie's 'My Uncle Toby and the Widow Wadman': the nineteen-century icon of Sterne's work. In: The Shandean, vol. 9, November 1997. pp.83-108.
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Tristram Shandy (first published 1765)
- Acquisition date
- Dec 2020
- 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