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Rev. William Gilpin, 1724–1804

Forest Scene

Additional Title(s):

A Giant Scots Fir and Forest Glade

Materials & Techniques:
Gray and brown wash with pen and brown ink over graphite with gum on moderately thick, moderately textured, cream wove paper prepared with brown wash, mounted on thick, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Mount: 20 13/16 x 15 7/8 inches (52.9 x 40.3 cm), Sheet: 17 1/8 x 12 7/8 inches (43.5 x 32.7 cm)

Inscribed in graphite, on back, upper center: "Revd. W Gilpin | of Boldre. 1771."; on back, lower right: "D. 1369"

Collector's mark: Henry Reveley (Lugt 1356); collector's mark, verso: Paul Mellon

Signed on mount in graphite, lower center: "W. Gilpin"; dated on verso in graphite, upper center: "Done in 1771"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
dark | figures | forest | landscape | night | path | trees | walking
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IIIF Manifest:

Cozen's landscape systems, though they found a receptive audience among certain artists, were too confusing and susceptible to ridicule and parody to gain wide public acceptance. The Rev. William Gilpin's writings on the Picturesque were, by contrast, hugely popular and influential with both artists and a wider public a wider public. Beginning with his Observations on the River Wye, published in 1782 but based on a trip down the river in 1770, Gilpin popularized the Picturesque as a distinct aesthetic category, a species of beauty appropriate to pictures but also applicable to natural scenery. In its simplest formulation the Picturesque was 'that peculiar kind of beauty, which is agreeable in a picture."
Gilpin experimented with Cozens's blot method and his own drawings of which this brooding woodland scene is a particularly grand example, are indebted to Cozens in their bold, simplified forms and dark, monochromatic character, If the inscription on the verso, supplied by a descendant in the nineteenth century, is accurate, Gilpin made the drawing between his Wye tour in 1770 and his tour of the Lakes in 1772 (published in 1786). It is unclear whether the drawing represents an actual location or is the kind of imaginary landscape Cozens' methods were meant to promote.

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. 61 cat. no. 46

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Carl Paul Barbier, William Gilpin : his drawings, teaching, and theory of the picturesque, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1963, p. 34, pl. 5, NJ18 .G386 B27 + Oversize YCBA [ORBIS]

Rev. William Gilpin, The Reverend William Gilpin and the picturesque : an exhibition of the works of the Reverend William Gilpin, 1724-1804, and other members of the Gilpin family, June to September 1959, London County Council, London, 1959, p. 18, no. 34, NJ18 .G386 B26 1959 YCBA [ORBIS]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, pp. 60-61, no. 46, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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