Paul Sandby R.A. (British, 1730-1809) Windsor Castle from the Thames with figures in the foreground

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Lot 84
Paul Sandby R.A.
(British, 1730-1809)
Windsor Castle from the Thames with figures in the foreground

Sold for £ 218,500 (US$ 303,049) inc. premium
Paul Sandby R.A. (British, 1730-1809)
Windsor Castle from the Thames with figures in the foreground
signed and dated 'P Sandby 1802' (lower right)
watercolour and gouache on laid paper
52 x 76cm (20 1/2 x 29 15/16in).

Footnotes

  • A similar view entitled Windsor Castle from the Eton Shore is in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen (inv. no. RCIN 452398). Whilst the Royal Collection version is slightly extended at either side, the present watercolour contains much more foreground detail. Sandby has clearly enjoyed enlivening the landscape with the group of working horses, the young family with their scampering dog, the laden barge and the horse-drawn cart that has been driven into the river to receive its cargo. He provides us with a snapshot of Georgian life against the backdrop of the awe-inspiring castle with all the historic connotations it would have held for 18th century antiquarians. Among Sandby's prints published in 1777 was an aquatint entitled Windsor from Eton (British Museum, inv. no. 1904,0819.757) depicting a similar view to the present watercolour. The preliminary study for the print would seem to be The North View of the Castle from the Eton Bank in the Royal Collection (inv. no. RCIN 914617). Two more comparable watercolours by Sandby are also in the Royal Collection, Windsor Castle (inv. nos. RCIN 452655 and RCIN 451608), one of which is of very similar format to the present lot. This would seem to indicate that this view was much in demand, explaining why Sandby depicted it several times between 1777 and 1802, the date of the present watercolour, which may have been commissioned by a collector.

    Paul Sandby and his older brother Thomas had an association with Windsor that spanned much of their careers. After working as topographical draughtsmen in Scotland on the Military Survey of North Britain from 1747, they moved south and in 1751 Thomas Sandby was living at Sandpit Gate Lodge in Windsor Great Park. He was employed to oversee landscape design and estate management in the park, and in 1764 he was appointed Deputy Ranger at Windsor. As a result of his frequent visits to stay with his brother, Paul came into contact with members of the royal household, several of whom became his pupils and he took up the role of artist in residence to the Duke of Cumberland's aide, the 1st Earl of Harcourt.

    By the 1760s Paul was regularly painting views of Windsor Castle and its environs, and in the 1770s he and Thomas published their famous series of aquatints of the Terrace at Windsor. The subject of the castle, with its origins in the 11th century with William the Conqueror, clearly attracted Paul who travelled throughout England and Wales recording the architectural heritage of the land. His work appealed to antiquarians and Joseph Banks (1743-1820) owned over 70 of his Windsor views. In 1769 Paul Sandby became a founder member of the Royal Academy, and views of Windsor featured among his most popular exhibited works over the years. (One wag writing in the London Evening Post of the watercolours Sandby exhibited at the RA in 1775 quipped 'the best views of Windsor are to be taken from Pall Mall').

    The brothers sometimes collaborated, but while Thomas's works tended to be more literally topographical, Paul had an eye for the picturesque and populated his scenes with elegant groups of figures for which many sketches still exist. Paul's landscape influences were Italianate, and he is known to have owned works by Marco Ricci (1676-1730) whose own gouache landscapes must surely have shaped his style. He also owned drawings of Italy by the landscapist Richard Wilson (1714-1782), one of which – bearing Paul Sandby's collector's mark - was offered in these rooms on 28 October 2015, lot 289.
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