John Varley
Composition, a Castle over a River date not known

Artwork details

John Varley 1778–1842
Composition, a Castle over a River
Date Date not known
Medium Watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 82 x 130 mm
Acquisition Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

Like many of his contemporaries, Varley was greatly interested in spontaneous methods of inventing compositions. This little study appears to be entirely impromptu, and can be related to the random ‘blots’ that Varley and others used to prompt their designs. Nonetheless, the key elements of balanced and classical Claudian landscape are in place. Claude’s landscapes, with their tranquil lakes, castles and limpid light, were admired immensely. They provided artists with a set of conventions that were applied to depictions of the national landscape.

September 2004

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