John Frederick Lewis

Sheet from a Sketchbook Used in Spain

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
John Frederick Lewis 1805–1876
Graphite and gouache on paper
Support: 103 × 137 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

Display caption

These two sketches consist mainly of lines drawn with a soft graphite pencil. The buildings have then been heightened with white gouache applied with a brush. To the naked eye, the white pigments look the same. However, ultraviolet examination revealed that Lewis used zinc white for the upper sketch and lead white for the other. At this time, zinc white was not commercially available to artists (Winsor & Newton introduced it in 1834), which shows Lewis's interest in experimenting with new materials. It is also interesting that Lewis used both white pigments within the same sketchbook.

Gallery label, September 2004

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