At the village of Redbrook in Gloucestershire, on the River Wye, the river is seen surrounded by lush green vegetation. A small boat sails on the river, while a man in another small vessel rows himself. To the right of the composition smoke rises from the chimney of a residence and a family with a dog are fishing with a net in the foreground. This location remains a designated ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ today.
Edward Dayes provided ambitious compositions in watercolour for ‘Views on the River Wye’, a series of 16 sepia aquatints published by the engraver of the works, Francis Jukes of No. 10 Howland Street (off Tottenham Court Road in London) between 1797 and 1802. ‘View at Redbrook on the River Wye’ was Plate 13 of the series. The prints were published in four groups of four. This view was part of the final group, published in October 1802 and advertised for sale for £1.10.0 in the ‘Morning Post’ in January 1803. The plates were later reissued by Jukes under the name ‘F. Jukes & Sarjent’, who published this version of the print in 1808. Close examination of the date on the print reveals that the date on the plate has been altered from 1802.
Edward Dayes was born in London and apprenticed to mezzotinter and painter William Pether. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1786. During his early career he worked as a miniaturist, later concentrating on the topographical landscapes in watercolour for which he is best-known. Thomas Girtin was a pupil of Dayes’ until an argument between the two seems to have led to Girtin’s imprisonment. Although not a pupil, J. M. W. Turner also studied Dayes’s work and some watercolours by Turner from the 1790s are virtually indistinguishable from those of Dayes. Towards the end of his career, Dayes began working in oils with less success. He was known as a difficult character with a fiery temper and committed suicide in London in 1804.
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