De Wint is best known as a watercolour artist; however, he launched his career as a painter in oil and continued to use the medium throughout his life. His plein air oil sketches, of which this is a striking example, are usually dated to the beginning of his career, around 1810, but firm evidence on the dating is lacking.

Between 1802 and 1808 De Wint was apprenticed to the portrait painter and mezzotint engraver John Raphael Smith. Smith would take him on fishing expeditions by the Thames, during which De Wint would sketch in oils. De Wint gained an early release from his apprenticeship on condition that he paint eighteen landscapes of various sizes for Smith over a two year period. The river depicted in this study has not been identified but could well be the Thames.

Further reading:
Hammond Smith, Peter De Wint 1784-1849, London 1982, pp.62-70

Terry Riggs
October 1997