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Davison, William, 1798–1870

Album of maritime sketches at Hartlepool.

Hartlepool, England, 1831-1854.
Physical Description:
1 v. ([86] leaves) : ill. ; 30 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
VM431.D38 A43 1831+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Drawings & Watercolors
The painter William Davison (1798-1870) is best known for his marine and coastal views. He originally worked at Sunderland, before moving to the port town of Hartlepool, in Durham. He was a member of the Northern Society of Painters in Watercolors and exhibited at the Northern Academy and Carlisle Academy. Cf. Mallalieu, The dictionary of British watercolour artists up to 1820; and Archibald, The dictionary of sea painters of Europe and America.
Bound in contemporary quarter calf and marbled boards; rebacked.
Album of maritime sketches in the harbor at Hartlepool, by the English marine painter William Davison. The album contains about 200 sketches across 86 leaves (predominantly on rectos only). At least 90% of the sketches are in graphite; the remainder are in pen and black ink. Sepia or gray washes are used intermittently for tone; very few drawings contain additional color. Almost all of the sketches are drawn on small pieces of paper of widely varying sizes, shapes, and tints, which were subsequently affixed to pages in the album. There is no apparent order to the sketches, with frequent chronological fluxuations. Less than half of the drawings are dated, with dates ranging from 1831 to 1854; the bulk of the drawings are from 1837 to 1845. Davison signs most of the drawings, and frequently notes "from nature", or rarely "from a Dutch etching". Occasionally Davison notes the colors of various elements (such as a black hull, or dark green water).
Most drawings depict individual boats or groups of boats, with limited depictions of the surroundings. The boats are almost all small fishing vessels, with very few larger ships or naval vessels. Most frequently depicted is the modest coble, an open fishing boat, 20 feet in length, developed on the North East coast of England. The larger "five men boat", 40 feet in length, is also depicted in a number of drawings. Other captions note fishing boats from Holland, France, Yorkshire, and Yarmouth, as well as the rare pleasure yacht or sloop.
A small portion of the drawings include views of the bay and harbor at Hartlepool. There are frequent drawings of the details of ships and fishing equipment, including: sails, and their stowing or unfurling; fishing nets; masts, booms, and other rig; anchors; buoys; and fish baskets. Depictions of human figures are limited.
Accompanying the album is a series of 7 unbound drawings, 6 in pen and black ink, and 1 in graphite. Mounted on the front pastedown is an ALS from the marine painter James Wilson Carmichael, dated April 15th, 1841, Newcastle, containing some suggestions for possible backgrounds. The letter is headed with a small sepia wash vignette of Table Bay, St. Helena. The conjugate leaf bears Carmichael's sepia vignettes of other well known bays or coasts, including Tenerife, The North Cape (Norway), St. Abb's Head, and Jamestown (Saint Helena).
Subject Terms:
Boats and boating -- England -- Pictorial works.
Boats and boating -- Equipment and supplies -- Pictorial works.
Boats and boating in art.
Carmichael, J. W., 1799 or 1800-1868.
Davison, William, 1798-1870.
Fishing boats -- England -- Pictorial works.
Harbors -- England -- Hartlepool -- Pictorial works.
Hartlepool (England) -- Pictorial works.
Ships -- England -- Pictorial works.
Ships -- Equipment and supplies -- Pictorial works.
Ships in art.
Marine drawings -- England -- Hartlepool.
Graphite drawings.
Ink drawings.
Wash drawings.
Carmichael, J. W., 1799 or 1800-1868.

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