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Creator:
Jonathan Skelton, active 1754, died 1758, British
Title:

Harbledown, a Village near Canterbury

Part Of:

Collective Title: Views of Canterbury and Its Environs

Date:
1757
Medium:
Watercolor with pen and gray ink over graphite on moderately thick, moderately textured, blued white laid paper, pasted on contemporary mount made of moderately thick, slightly textured, cream laid paper
Dimensions:
Mount: 10 1/4 × 23 1/2 inches (26 × 59.7 cm) and Sheet: 8 × 20 3/4 inches (20.3 × 52.7 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Inscribed in black ink, on back, lower center: "Harbledown Hospital"; in black ink, on mount, now detached: "Harbledown, A village near Canterbury | J: Skelton 1757 | N: B: Drawn immediatly after a heavy Summer-Shower"

Signed and dated in black ink, on back, lower center: "J. Skelton 1757"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1975.4.1956
Classification:
Drawings & Watercolors
Collection:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
buildings | church | fences | hospital | houses | landscape | road | town | trees | village
Associated Places:
England | Harbledown | Hospital of St. Nicholas Harbledown | Kent | United Kingdom
Access:
View by request in the Study Room
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:13073
Export:
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IIIF Manifest:
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Apart from a handful of atmospherically sensitive topographical views in the south of England, little is known of Jonathan Skelton before he embarked in 1757 for Italy, where he died two years later. Earlier in 1757 he produced a set of eight views of Canterbury and its environs, to which this drawing of the village of Harbledown belongs. Skelton’s topographical drawings reveal the sort of naturalistic concerns that would come more and more to the forefront of British landscape art as the century progressed. In his view of the leper’s hospital at Harbledown, Skelton seems more involved with the trees and old fences and tumbledown outbuildings than with the hospital itself, which can just be glimpsed through the trees. When he mounted the drawing, Skelton added a note that it had been made after a summer shower—the sort of meteorological notation the Romantic landscape painter John Constable would make some sixty or seventy years later.

Gallery label for Paul Mellon's Legacy: A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)
This watercolor was made shortly before Skelton's trip to Italy, from which he was never to return. It belongs to a set of eight views of Canterbury and its vicinity, of which four are in the Paul Mellon Collection (YCBA). Harbledown was the last village that pilgrims encountered before arriving at the ancient cathedral city of Canterbury, one and a half miles away. From atop the hill on which Harbledown is located (“Bobbe up-and-down” as the village was once referred to by Chaucer in his “Canterbury Tales”), pilgrims would have an unimpeded view of the cathedral. The road at the forefront of Skelton's composition is known today as the old Pilgrims Way, linking London to Canterbury. Hardly recognizable amid its densely wooded surroundings is the church of St. Nicholas, or “Harbledown hospital” (the subject is given by Skelton himself on the sheet's verso), still referred to nine hundred years later by locals as “The Leper Church,” or leper's hospital. This lazaret, with its adjoining almshouses (many of which have not survived), was a mandatory stop for early kings en route to Canterbury. “Harbledown” perfectly demonstrates Skelton's mastery in color variations. His inclination toward the observation of nature is suggested by an inscription on the old mount which reads: “Harbledown, A village near Canterbury./.J: Skelton 1757./.N: B: Drawn immediately after a heavy Summer-Shower.” His use of the method of “tinted drawing,” a technique that consisted of adding washes of colors over penciled outlines, is precise without being rigid; a full spectrum of greens and browns is exploited to effectively convey a damp atmosphere. As with other compositions in the Canterbury series, the artist represented Harbledown in a panoramic format in which the sense of depth is suggested by a wandering path.

Stéphane Roy

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, pp. 260-61, no. 42, pl. 42, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, pp. 260-61, no. 42, pl. 42, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 2, no. 62, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA)

Scott Wilcox, British watercolors, drawings of the 18th and 19th centuries from the Yale Center for British Art , Hudson Hill Press, New York, 1985, no. 2, pl. 2, ND1928 W533 1985 (YCBA)


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