John Downman launched his career as a portrait painter, and is today best remembered for his small-scale portraits in coloured chalks. In 1773 he travelled to Italy by sea with Joseph Wright of Derby (no.29). They were forced to disembark at Nice on the southern French coast because of bad weather, and remained there for three weeks. This is an astonishingly unconventional landscape for its date made, as the inscription indicates, out of the artist's 'bedroom window ... on a bad day'. There are also three grey wash studies by Downman in the Oppé collection of the cave and shore at Nice.
Gallery label, September 2004