William James Müller

Sketch for the Frontispiece to the ‘Age of Francis I’

published 1841

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William James Müller 1812–1845
Watercolour on paper
Support: 571 × 394 mm
Presented by Lady Weston as part of the Sir Joseph Weston Gift 1908

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This was a sketch for the frontispiece of a volume of illustrations, Müller’s Sketches of the Age of Francis 1st 1841. It shows the architecturally complex rooftop of Chambord, Francis I’s hunting lodge. Many details were changed in the published frontispiece, including the addition of two soldiers in sixteenth-century costume.

The raw, direct use of watercolour in this sketch is a departure both from the traditions of antiquarian illustration and the landscape watercolourists’ refined use of washes. It conveys a sense of urgent observation that suited the romanticised vision of the past.

Gallery label, September 2004

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