Port of London: Greenwich Palace
About the work
James Francis Danby painted numerous marine views of the Greenwich area, some of which followed this composition. An example which sold through Sotheby’s, London, in 1983 is similar to this work, although the sky is coloured by a warm evening sunset. Danby first exhibited ‘A View of Greenwich at Sunrise’ at the Society of British Artists in 1842, when he was about 26.
This example, signed and dated 1871, may be the work Danby exhibited in November 1871, which was described as a sunrise over the Thames ‘with Greenwich in the distance’, at the Fitzelan Rooms of picture dealer T. Gilbert in Bedford Square, Sheffield. It may also be the painting exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists in London during the winter of 1871-72 as simply ‘Greenwich’.
The close relationship between the work of Danby and that of his father, painter Francis Danby (1793-1861), is demonstrated by Francis’s two marine views of the estuary at Exmouth (Royal Albert Museum, Exeter, and private collection), painted in the 1850s. Both have strikingly similar compositions to this work and include tall ships viewed against atmospheric skies.
About the artist
James Francis Danby was born in Bristol; the son of landscape artist Francis Danby. His father’s mistress lived with the Danbys as a governess to the children. In 1830 James’s mother, Hannah, moved in with painter Paul Falconer Poole and the remaining family moved to Bruges to escape creditors. By August 1832 they were living in poverty in Geneva. Francis moved the family to Paris in 1836. James had returned to England by 1839. He married Sophia Elizabeth Carter in 1841 and the couple had eight children. Danby exhibited at the Royal Academy, British Institution and the Society of British Artists (1842-75). He died aged 59, at his home in Hampstead. 150 paintings and oil sketches by the artist were sold at his studio sale the following year.
- Port of London: Greenwich Palace
- Oil on canvas
- height: 61.20 cm, width: 91.20 cm
- Purchased from Ferner Gallery of Fine Art, Auckland, New Zealand, 1991
- signed and dated
- Private collection, New Zealand; with Ferner Gallery of Fine Art, Auckland, New Zealand; from whom purchased by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1991
- GAC number