Sir Robert Ker Porter

An Ancient Castle


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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Sir Robert Ker Porter 1777–1842
Watercolour and graphite on paper
Support: 209 × 296 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

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This work, with its air of fantasy and its grey watercolour washes, is immediately recognisable as a product of what is usually known as Girtin's Sketching Club or the Sketching Society. This first met in May 1799 in Porter's studio. At the meetings a literary quotation would be read out and the assembled artists would illustrate it. Ker Porter and his fellow artists, among them Thomas Girtin and Louis Francia, met with 'the purpose of establishing by practice a school of Historical Landscape'. By using dark monochrome washes these artists were looking to achieve 'grandeur of effect' in accordance with the philosopher Edmund Burke's ideas about provoking sublime feelings in the viewer's mind.

Gallery label, September 2004

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