View at Redbrook on the River Wye
Coloured aquatint1 October 1808
About the work
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.
About the artist
Aquatint engraver Francis Jukes was born in Martley, Worcestershire. Nothing is known of his parents. He initially worked as a topographical painter, before becoming one of the first British aquatint engravers. He is thought to have learnt the method from Paul Sandby and some of his first aquatints are after Sandby’s designs. Dukes mainly produced prints of landscape or seascape subjects. He illustrated the Rev. William Gilpin’s ‘Observations on the River Wye’ (published 1782). His early prints were published in collaboration with Valentine Green and he later collaborated with Robert Pollard. Illness towards the end of his life may have been caused by fumes from the acid he used in the aquatinting process. He died in 1812, aged about 67.
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.