This work, with its air of fantasy and its grey watercolour washes, is immediately recognisable as a product of what is usually known as Girtin's Sketching Club or the Sketching Society. This first met in May 1799 in Porter's studio. At the meetings a literary quotation would be read out and the assembled artists would illustrate it. Ker Porter and his fellow artists, among them Thomas Girtin and Louis Francia, met with 'the purpose of establishing by practice a school of Historical Landscape'. By using dark monochrome washes these artists were looking to achieve 'grandeur of effect' in accordance with the philosopher Edmund Burke's ideas about provoking sublime feelings in the viewer's mind.
Gallery label, September 2004