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Queen Judith reciting to Alfred the Great, when a child, the songs of the bards, describing the heroic deeds of his ancestors; in a stone chamber looking out on a river and mountainous landscape at twilight, Alfred in sandals and tunic kneels at his mother's feet, as she speaks resting one arm on a large book, the other uplifted, with King Ethelwolf on a low throne beside her, and beyond him a monk. 1799
Watercolour, touched with white and strengthened with gum, with pen and ink
- Production date
Height: 658 millimetres
Width: 523 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- According to Laurence Binyon, the queen was probably not Alfred's stepmother Judith, but his own mother Osburh.
Now thought to be a replica painted for Richard Payne Knight, who was a keen collector of Westall's works, of a watercolour exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1800 (no. 423). Joseph Farington recorded in his diary in 1800 that the exhibited drawing had been acquired by Robert Udney rather than Knight: 'West was commissioned to purchase [Westall's] drawings of Alfred & the companion now exhibiting. Mr Udney paid him 100 guineas for each of them. West said he wd have given double that sum.' The version bought by Udney might be a Westall drawing purchased by Professor Marcia Allentuck from Abbot and Holder in 1964 (letter December 2003).
Tim Wilcox has suggested that the cross-hatching used for the tonal modelling of the figures indicates it was always Westall's intention to engrave the image, and a 'print in imitation of a drawing' with the same title was indeed exhibited by the artist at the Royal Academy in 1801. It was a subject with a patriotic appeal during wartime, and Westall was to repeat it again in an oil painting shown at the inaugural exhibition of the British Institution in 1806. See Tim Wilcox, 'the Triumph of Watercolour', exh. cat., Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2005, p. 15.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1814, London, New Gallery, Pall Mall, 'An exhibition of a selection of the works of Richard Westall, R.A.', no.234
2001-2002 Oct-Jan, London, Courtauld Institute, 'Art on the Line...', no.206
2005 Feb-April, London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 'The Triumph of Watercolour', no.2
2005 May-Aug, Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, 'The Triumph of Watercolour'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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