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Richard Parkes Bonington, 1802–1828, British

Shipping in an Estuary, Probably near Quilleboeuf

1825 to 1826
Watercolor over graphite with scratching out on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 5 3/4 x 9 inches (14.6 x 22.9 cm)

Inscribed in artist's hand in pen and brown ink lower right: "RPB 182[...]"; inscribed on back in graphite upper left: "R.P.B. 1878"

Watermark: [What]man

Signed in pen and brown ink lower right: "RPB 182[...]"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
boats | coastline | estuaries | marine art | people | seagulls | shipping
Associated Places:
Europe | France | Quillebeuf-sur-Seine
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IIIF Manifest:

Throughout his brief career, coastal landscape would be a mainstay of Bonington’s work in both watercolors and oils. His affinity for such subjects presumably dates from his period of study with Louis Francia in Calais in 1817. Francia had fled to England as a youthful refugee from the French Revolution and become part of the circle of Thomas Girtin in London. When he met Bonington, he had just returned to his native Calais and was beginning to establish himself as a drawing master and marine painter. Francia would undoubtedly have transmitted to his young pupil an awareness of British watercolor practice and a taste for naturalistic coastal scenes, both of which were novelties in France. In the autumn of 1821, while still in the atelier of Baron Gros, Bonington embarked on his first extensive sketching tour, traveling through Normandy and producing watercolors of the coast. He would leave Gros’s studio by the end of 1822. He spent most of 1824 based in Dunkerque, and though he was back in Paris in 1825, he was again sketching along the Channel coast with his artist friend Eugène Isabey in the autumn of that year. This watercolor probably derives from that time. Although the inscription on an old mount (now removed) gave the date as 1818, this is clearly a work of Bonington’s maturity, remarkably assured in its elegant and fluid use of the medium.

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. 292-93, no. 107, pl. 107, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Patrick Noon, Richard Parkes Bonington, "On the pleasure of painting" , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1991, p. 104, no. 80, NJ18 B65 N66 1991 + (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. 107, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA)

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