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Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, 1733–1794, Swiss

Kennington Common

Watercolor with gray ink and gouache over graphite on medium, smooth, cream wove paper
Sheet: 13 1/4 x 20 1/4 inches (33.7 x 51.4 cm)

Inscribed in black ink, lower center: "S H Grimm fecit 1776"; in brown ink, verso, now covered by backing sheet: "A view of Kennington. Common by Samuel Jerome Grimm | who was in England in 1760. and died here in 1794"

Watermarks: J Whatman

Signed and dated in black ink, lower center: "S H Grimm fecit 1776"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
bonnets (hats) | buildings | capes (outerwear) | carriage | children | common | costume | cows | donkeys | dresses | fences | genre subject | horses (animals) | landscape | leisure | men | people | pigs | trees | walking | women
Associated Places:
England | Kennington | Kent | United Kingdom
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The Swiss watercolorist and poet Samuel Hieronymous Grimm settled in London in 1768 and became well known for his topographical views and caricatures (see cats. 83-4). Situated on the edge of the expanding metropolis less than two miles from Westminster; Kennington was still a rural neighborhood at the time of Grimm's watercolor but was developed as a residential area soon thereafter. The opening of Westminster Bridge in 1750 and Kennington Road in the following year facilitated access to the West End, and the construction of Blackfriars Bridge and its approach roads between 1760 and 1769 made the relatively pastoral Kennington a desirable home for merchants working in the City. In the mid-nineteenth century the remnants of the common land were enclosed, and it was designated as a Royal Park. Grimm's charming portrayal of bucolic activity and genteel recreation alludes neither to the area's traditional associations with radicalism and free speech, nor to its grim function as a place of execution until the end of the century. Kenninton Common was regularly used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as a platform for political activists and dissenting religious preachers, including John Wesley, who addressed a crowd of 20,000 in the fall on 1739. The park is still used today as an assembly-point for political gatherings today. The south west corner of the Common was the site of a public gallows, where, most notoriously, nine Catholic members of the Manchester Regiment were hung, drawn, and quartered after the Jacobite rebellion on July 30, 1746.

William Hauptman, Samuel Hieronymus Grimm (1733-1794) : a very English Swiss, 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2014, pp. 126-27, cat. no. 39, NJ18.G81 H38 2014 (YCBA)

Justin Lovill, 1776 : A London Chronicle or How to Divert Oneself while Losing an Empire, The Bunbury Press, London, 2019, p. 18, DA682 .L66 2019 (LC) (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. 8, pl. 8, ND1928 W533 1985 (YCBA)

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