John Downman

A Tree Trunk near Albano


In Tate Britain

John Downman 1750–1824
Graphite, ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 541 × 383 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

Display caption

Landscape drawings by John Downman are very rare. They mostly date from his tour to the Continent between 1773 and 1774, and a large number of them are in the Oppé Collection. His Italian landscapes tend to focus on the more unassuming corners of Rome and the surrounding region rather than the grand views and sweeping vistas so popular with visitors making the Grand Tour. This study of a tree trunk was drawn by him in the woods at Albano near Rome, and is unusual for its close and low viewpoint. For the intense scrutiny of natural details did not become commonplace until the Romantic generation made it part of their practice in the early nineteenth century.

Gallery label, September 2004

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