In this view of the coast of Kent, Dover Castle is seen to the left of the composition and the town of Dover itself is to the right. In the foreground, a woman carries a bale on her head as she leads a child along a dusty road.
Dover is one of the ‘Cinque Ports’, which since medieval times has maintained ships for use by the Crown. A fortification has existed on the site of Dover Castle for many centuries. The earliest ramparts (embankments around the building, built for defensive purposes) date from the iron-age. King Harold strengthened the Castle in 1066, before meeting William the Conqueror at Hastings. In the 1180s the square Keep and its surrounding walls were added. Other sections, including the towers, outer walls and gatehouses, date from the 13th century. The castle remained relatively untouched until the 18th century, when it was strengthened again against a Jacobite invasion and the towers and battlements were made more level to suit contemporary artillery. The fortifications were further reduced during French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
Although Thomas Creswick exhibited numerous views of the English coast, no other painting by the artist is known, which includes the town or castle of Dover.
Thomas Creswick was born in Sheffield. He moved to London in 1828, where he exhibited at the Royal Academy. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1842 and appointed a full Academician in 1851. He also exhibited at the British Institution and the Birmingham Society of Artists. The paintings of Creswick’s early career (until around 1840) look to the work of 18th- and early 19th-century British landscape painters and many of them depict scenes in Wales, Ireland or northern England. During the 1840s Creswick was associated with the ‘Clique’, an informal group of artists which included William Powell Frith and Augustus Egg, among others, who met to sketch and discuss their work.
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