Paul and Thomas Sandby, Painters of Britain

Victoria here, sorting out bookshelves…yes, that’s sort of like cleaning, but not quite.  And I found a treasure.  Couldn’t remember when I bought it, but I found a copy of a wonderful book: Views of Windsor: Watercolours by Thomas and Paul Sandby.  Of course, I had to quit the sorting and sit down to enjoy it. 

The mystery was solved when I checked the publication page and saw that it is a catalogue which accompanied the exhibition of the same name from 1995-1997, which was shown in Amsterdam; Portland, Oregon; Memphis; Dallas; and Manchester, UK.  I must have seen it in Dallas.  The paintings are from the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. To see more, click here.
Paul Sandby, The Castle from the Long Walk, ca. 1765
Watercolour with pen and ink over graphite within black line
Zoom on Image here.
This is the view of the castle before the Round Tower was “tarted up” as a Gothic Fantasy by George IV and his architect Jeffry Wyattville in the 1820’s. Below, the view since that time, a much taller and more elaborate building.
Windsor Castle, Round Tower, 2010
Thomas Sandby (1721-1798) was the elder of the two brothers, both born in Nottingham. Thomas was an architectural draughtsman, artist and teacher. He joined the staff  of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, for his campaigns in Flanders and Scotland (1743–1748). Later, he became Deputy Ranger of Windsor Great Park, and also spent part of the year in London where he engaged in numerous architectural and artistic projects. He and his brother were among the 28 persons who were chosen as founding members of  the Royal Academy; Thomas was the RA’s first Professor of Architecture.
Thomas Sandby, RA, by Sir William Beechey, n.d., NPG, London

Paul Sandby, View through the Norman Gateway, looking west towards the Winchester Tower,
 ca. 1770; Watercolour with pen and ink over graphite

Paul Sandby (1731-1809) was chief draughtsman for the Board of Ordnance’s 1747 project of mapping the Scottish Highlands. In the 1750’s, Paul and Thomas Sandby created hundreds of views of Windsor, the castle, the royal grounds, the town and other scenes.  Their work was admired by artists such as Gainsborough, who appreciated the details they captured. More than 500 of their paintings and drawings are held in the Royal Collection.  Paul was chief drawing master to the Royal Military academy and published several volumes of his works over the years. At his death, he was called “the father of modern landscape painting.”

Paul Sandby sketching, by Francis Coates, 1791
Tate Britain
Paul Sandby, The Henry VIII Gateway and the Salisbury Tower from within the Lower Ward, ca. 1770
Watercolour with pen and ink over graphite within black ink line

Though it may be difficult to see without enlarging these views (which can easily be done with the zoom feature of the Royal Collection), one of the major interests of the Sandbys’ work goes beyond the exactitude of the buildings in time.  The figures in the foreground, pedestrians, workers, riders…all provide a perfect picture of what people wore, what they did, even what they ate at the time.  They provide a rich source for those of us who obsess over minute details of the period.

Paul Sandby, The north front of the Castle from Isherwood’s Brewery in Datchet Lane, c. 1765
Watercolour and body colour with pen and ink
Paul Sandby, The Norman Gateway from the gate to the North Terrace, ca. 1770
Watercolour and bodycolour with pen and ink over graphite

Paul Sandby, The Castle from Datchet Lane on a rejoicing night, 1768
Watercolour and bodycolour including gold paint, within black line
The subject matter of the rejoicing night is unknown; from the leaves on the trees, it cannot be Guy Fawkes Night (5 November), but the distant bonfire and/or fireworks suggests a celebration.
Thomas and Paul Sandby The Walk and terrace at Cranbourne Lodge 1752
Watercolour and bodycolour with Pen and ink over graphite
This volume of wonderful views of Windsor is now in a more prominent position in my bookcases — and I am willing to report that I plan to share any more treasures I uncover.  I’ve already got one in mind, Royal London.  Coming one of these days….

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