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John Thomas Serres, 1759–1825, British

View of Castle Cornet, Guernsey, Channel Islands, with Shipping

ca. 1800
Watercolor, pen and black ink, and graphite on moderately thick, slightly textured, beige wove paper
Sheet: 9 3/8 x 26 1/4 inches (23.8 x 66.7 cm)

Signed in pen and black ink, lower right: "J.T. Serres"; not dated

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
boats | castle | crowd | island | marine art | sailboat | sea
Associated Places:
Castle Cornet | Channel Islands | Guernsey | Saint Peter Port | United Kingdom
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IIIF Manifest:

Robert Cleveley (cat. 69) [B1975.4.1476] belonged to a family of marine painters. So too did John Thomas Serres. His father Dominic Serres, from a well off Gascon family, ran away to sea and arrived in England as Prisoner of war in the 1750s. After studying with the marine painter Charles Brooking, the elder Serres achieved considerable success in that line, becoming Marine Painter to George III in 1780. Unlike Robert Cleveley, John Thomas Serres has no practical experience of ships and the sea. But he was a pupil of his father and, on his father's death in 1793, succeeded him as Marine Painter to George III. In 1800 John Thomas Serres was also appointed Marine Draughtsman to the Admiralty. One of his duties was to provide detailed elevations of the coastlines of Britain, France, and Spain. His View of Cornet, Guernsey, Channel Islands, with Shipping may be related to the production of these official coastal views. The more modest but also more charming A Hoy and a Lugger with other Shipping on a Calm Sea depicts two of the types of small vessels that plied the coastal trade around England and Holland in the eighteenth century.

Scott Wilcox

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. 90 cat. no. 72

Eleanor Hughes, Spreading Canvas : Eighteenth-Century British Marine Painting, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2016, p. 273, 276, cat. 137, ND 1373.G74 S67 2016 (YCBA)

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