View of Dover Castle

  • About the work
    Country: Japan
    City: Tokyo
    Place: British Embassy

    In this panoramic view of Dover Castle and bay (1738), the castle dominates the left of the composition and the town of Dover can be seen to the right. This is one of six versions of this view, painted by theatre scene and landscape painter George Lambert (1700-1765) between 1735 and 1751. The distant ships and figures may have been added by artist Samuel Scott (c.1702-1772), with whom Lambert sometimes collaborated.

    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. This painting records the castle as it appeared following these alterations, but before the fortifications were further reduced during French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

  • About the artist
    George Lambert, theatre scene and landscape painter, divided his career equally between the two professions. For most of his life he lived in Covent Garden. His early style of the 1720s is similar to that of John Wootton. However, his later classical landscapes earned him the accolade ‘the English Poussin’. Lambert painted the landscape backgrounds for William Hogarth’s paintings ‘The Pool of Bethesda’ and ‘The Good Samaritan’, made for St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (1736-37). In 1761 he was elected chairman of the newly founded Society of Artists of Great Britain. The Society received the Royal Seal on 26th January 1765 and just five days later Lambert died at his home in Covent Garden, leaving his possessions to his servant, Ann Terry.
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  • Details
    View of Dover Castle
    Oil on canvas
    height: 61.00 cm, width: 119.50 cm
    Purchased from Oscar & Peter Johnson, April 1966
    bl on rock: G. Lambert / 1738
    [Possibly collection of Alexander Stuart of Dunearn, Edinburgh, by 1786; possibly collection of George Watson Taylor (died 1820) of London and Earlstoke Park, Wiltshire; possibly Erlestoke Manor sale, conducted by George Robins, London, 9 July to 1 August 1832;] collection of E. Hardman by 1833; sold through Sotheby's, London, 'Fine Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Drawings and Paintings' sale, on 24 November 1965 (Lot 118), for £950, as 'A View of Dover with Castle on a rise to the left, mounted travellers in the foreground and shipping under sail in the Channel'; from which sale purchased by Lowndes Lodge Gallery (owned by Oscar and Peter Johnson); from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in April 1966
    GAC number