attributed to James Johnson

The Tranquil Lake: Sunset Seen through a Ruined Abbey


Not on display

Attributed to James Johnson 1803–1834
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 902 × 1441 mm
frame: 1300 × 1666 × 108 mm
Purchased 1972

Catalogue entry

Francis Danby 1793–1861

T01522 The Tranquil Lake: Sunset Seen through a Ruined Abbey 1825

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 35½ x 56¾ (90 x 144).
Purchased from the Sabin Galleries Ltd (Grant-in-Aid) 1972.
Coll: ...; in the trade, Co. Durham, c.1945; ...; acquired by the Sabin Galleries, c.1967.
Exh: Irish Art in the 19th Century, Crawford Municipal School of Art, Cork, October-December 1971 (27, repr.).
Lit: E.W.Adams, Francis Danby (Ph.D. thesis, London University), 1969, p.328, no.51 (revised edition to be published c. 1973 with repr. in colour); Cyril Barrett, ‘Irish art in the nineteenth century’ in Connoisseur, CLXXVIII, 1971, p.231, repr. p.230; John Elderfield, ‘Cork: Irish Painting in the 19th Century’ in Artforum, X, N0.5, January 1972, p.54, repr. p.52.
Repr: Burlington Magazine, CXIV, 1972, p.443, fig. 121.

Dated c 1825 by Adams on account of its similarity to ‘An Enchanted Island’, exhibited at the British Institution early that year. The stage-like composition and the lighting from behind, with the rays of the setting sun shining through the arches of the Gothic ruin, may also reflect, as Adams points out, Daguerre’s diorama of Holyrood Chapel, which opened in March 1825.

Adams also suggests the influence of Danby’s friend the Rev John Eagles in the echoes of Ariosto, the general mood of the landscape and the wandering spearsman in period costume, while the right-hand side of the landscape is based on the scenery of one of Eagles’ favourite haunts, the river Frome between Stapleton and Frenchay near Bristol, where Danby himself had lived for ten years up to 1824.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.


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