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Julius Caesar Ibbetson, 1759–1817, British

St. James' Park, Summer

Watercolor and pen and black ink on thick, slightly textured, beige wove paper
Sheet: 17 3/8 × 23 1/2 inches (44.1 × 59.7 cm)

Signed and dated, lower right: "Julius Ibbetson 1796"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
View by request in the Study Room

St. James's Park is the oldest of London's royal parks, which first opened to the public in the early seventeenth century. After the restoration Charles II extended the park by thirty-six acres, stocked it with deer, planted fruit trees, and built The Mall, the tree lined avenue which still exists today. The rapid expansion of London in the eighteenth century was accompanied by a concern to retain or even introduce, if necessary, rural elements into the city, and the therapeutic and social value of the parks was widely acknowledged. In 1774 Oliver Goldsmith commented, "if a man be splenetic [i.e., afflicted with melancholia or hypochondria], he may every day meet companions in the seats of St. James's Park, with whose groans he may mix his own and pathetically talk of the weather." Londoner's enthusiasm for their parks was reflected in the popularity of picturesque sub-urban pastoral like Julius Caesar Ibbetson's watercolor of St. James Park. Ibbetson, who lived in London from 1777on 1798, produced a large group of drawings and paintings depicting metropolitan park scenes, often paring summer and winter subjects. There was a dairy in St. James's Park, and milk fairs were regularly held there in the eighteenth century. Gillian Forrester

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 113 cat. no. 93

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