The image depicts the petrifying spring, known as the Dropping Well, at Knaresborough in Yorkshire. At the time this work was published the area belonged to two neighbouring landowners: the Dropping Well was the property of Sir Henry Slingsby, fifth Baronet (1693-1763), while the ruined castle belonged to Richard Boyle, third Earl of Burlington (1694-1753).
Almost a century and a half later, in 1888, the still considerable attraction of the spring was explained by an article in the ‘York Herald’:
Opposite the ruins of Knaresborough Castle, on the south-west bank of the river Nidd, you will observe the petrifying spring of Knaresborough - the celebrated dropping-well - where the peasants and the needy crowd to make their humble fortunes by afterwards retailing small sprigs of trees, such as the elder of ash, or pieces of the elegant geranium, the wild angelica, or the lovely violet, turned into ‘obdurate stone.’ … Twenty gallons are poured forth every minute from the top of the Knaresborough Cliff, and the beauty of the scene can only be appreciated by those who have stood upon the margin of those ‘stony waters’ and beheld the crystal fluid descend from above with metallic fall.
Thomas Smith of Derby was a topographical and picturesque landscape painter who lived in Bridgegate, Derby. He exhibited at the Society of Artists and the Free Society of Artists from 1760 to 1767. Several examples of his work include groups of elegant tourists admiring views of country estates. He took his art sufficiently seriously to name both his sons after great painters, calling them Thomas Correggio Smith and John Raphael Smith (who continued the tradition by naming his son John Rubens Smith). Both of his sons naturally became artists, as did his daughter, Emma. Smith died on 5 September 1767 in Hotwells, a district of Bristol.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.