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Richard Westall, 1765–1836, British

Rosebud, or the Judgement of Paris

Watercolor and gouache over graphite on moderately thick, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet (cropped to image): 12 5/8 x 15 inches (32.1 x 38.1 cm)

signed and dated in black ink, lower right: "R. Westall 1791"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
breeches (trousers) | columns | costume | dog (animal) | doublet | dresses | flowers (plants) | man | parasol | plume | ruffs | stockings | stool | vase | women
Associated People:
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The association of the rising school of watercolor painting of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century with landscape tended to marginalize the achievements of watercolorists who specialized in subject pictures. Thus Richard Westall's reputation has not proved as enduring as those of the preeminent landscape watercolorists of the time. Yet, to many of his contemporaries, Westall was a figure of comparable achievements. James Northcote (1746-1831) was of the opinion that "Westall is as much entitled to share in the honor of the school of painting in water-colours, as his highly gifted contemporaries Girtin and Turner." In a series of articles titled "Observations of the Rise and Progress of Painting in Watercolours," which appeared in Ackermann's repository of Arts in 1812 and 1813, the unnamed author (probably William Henry Pyne) concluded that "the entire development of that powerful union of richness and effect which at length elevated this art to vie with the force of painting in oil, was left for the genius of Richard Westall to complete." In his exhibition of watercolors, generally scenes from literature or classical mythology or rustic genre subjects, Westall combined elements of neoclassicism with rococo decorativeness. A frequent and prolific contributor to the Royal Academy exhibitions from, 1784 to 1836, he exhibited The Rosebud there in 1792, the year in which became an Associate. The watercolor is an illustration to Matthew Prior's poem "A Lover's Anger." A lover chides his mistress for being late (Westall shows him holding a watch in his left hand). She, seeking to deflect his anger, complains that a rosebud has fallen into her bodice and exposes her breast to exhibit the mark it has left. The lover, successfully distracted, forgets the rest of his rebuke.

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. 18, pl. 18, ND1928 W533 1985 (YCBA)

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