Francis Danby

Children by a Brook


Not on display

Francis Danby 1793–1861
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 345 × 460 mm
frame: 509 × 626 × 67 mm
Purchased 1983

Display caption

This is one of several small poetic landscapes with figures that Danby painted during his early years in Bristol. The scene is probably imaginary but inspired by the landscape of the Frome valley at Stapleton. Such works were painted for local collectors, unlike the more spectacular pictures Danby sent up for exhibition in London, where he moved in 1824.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03667 CHILDREN BY A BROOK c. 1822

Oil on canvas 13 9/16 × 18 1/8 (345 × 460)
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1983
Prov: ...; anon. sale, Sotheby's 7 July 1982 (47, repr. in col.) £16,500 bt Spink and Son Ltd from whom bt by the Tate Gallery

This is one of several small poetic landscapes with figures which Danby painted during his last years in Bristol. By 1824, when he settled in London, he was painting more spectacular subjects and had given up the close attention to natural detail seen here.

A larger, upright version of the subject, measuring 29 1/2 × 24 1/2in, is in the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Eric Adams, Francis Danby, 1973, no.14, fig.23). The figures of the girl and the two boys at her feet are very similar in both works, as is the central part of the landscape with its effect of sunlight filtered through foliage. However, the Yale Center picture includes an additional boy standing on a rock facing the other two and lacks the bridge seen at the left of T03667. There are other variations occasioned by the differences of format.

The Bristol Art Gallery's ‘Boy Sailing a Little Boat’ (Adams 1973, no.15, fig.24), which is related in subject to the two versions of ‘Children by a Brook’, carries an inscription on the back identifying the location of the scene as Stapleton near Bristol, and Adams takes the setting of the Yale Center ‘Children by a Brook’ (the Tate version was unknown when he wrote in 1973) to be ‘an idealized rendering of the River Frome at Stapleton’.

The dating of T03667 to c. 1822 is suggested by comparison with Danby's ‘View of the Avon Gorge’ (Bristol; Adams no.8, fig.16), which is dated that year, and with Richard Redgrave's description of Danby's ‘Clearing up after a Shower’ exhibited at the RA in 1822 (unlocated; Adams no.157).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986


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