Sir George Howland Beaumont, Bt 1753–1827
T01221 Waterfall at Keswick 1803
Chalk and wash on blue paper (faded), 12 5/16 x 10 15/16 (31.3 x 27.8).
Purchased from Richard Beaumont, Esq. (Grant-in-Aid) 1970.
Coll: given by the artist to William Wordsworth 1803; in the Wordsworth family until 1970, when given by Gordon Wordsworth to Richard Beaumont.
When acquired by the Gallery the drawing was in its original frame, which is now preserved separately. The backing board is inscribed ‘G H Beaumont Keswick | August 11 1803—’ and ‘Wm Wordsworth | 4/5/50’ (unless the date is read as 5 April, the second inscription cannot be in the hand of the poet since he died on 23 April 1850). The back of the frame was sealed with cuttings from The Morning Post for 8 August 1803, which suggests that Beaumont framed the drawing immediately after making it on 11 August. On the back of the drawing is another, slighter sketch of a waterfall.
Although they had met earlier, Sir George and Lady Beaumont first became friendly with Coleridge in the summer of 1803 when they found themselves sharing Greta Hall near Keswick with him. Through him they met Wordsworth, to whom Coleridge wrote on or about 6 August 1803: ‘Sir G. and Lady B. are half-mad to see you — (Lady B. told me, that the night before last as she was reading your Poem on Cape Rash Judgment, had you entered the room, she believes she should have fallen at your feet)’ (ed. Earl Leslie Griggs, Unpublished Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1932, I, p. 266). The date of the Beaumonts’ first meeting with Wordsworth is unknown but about the middle of August Sir George, acting through Coleridge, offered Wordsworth a small property at Applethwaite, near Keswick, where Coleridge was living. Beaumont’s plan to bring the poets closer together in this way fell through but Wordsworth did accept two drawings which were presented at the same time. In his letter to Beaumont on 14 October 1803, he discussed the Applethwaite scheme and went on:
‘Mr. Coleridge informed me, that immediately after you left Keswick, he had, as I requested, returned you thanks for those two elegant drawings which you were so good as to leave for me. The present is valuable in itself, and I consider it as a high honour conferred on me. How often did we wish for five minutes’ command of your pencil while we were in Scotland! or rather that you had been with us.’ (ed. Ernest de Selincourt, The Early Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, 1935, p. 341).
T01227 was one of the ‘elegant drawings’. The other, also a view in the Lake District, is in the collection of Mr Richard Beaumont and is similarly inscribed and sealed with contemporary newspaper.
Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.