Cornelius Varley

Study of a Tree. Verso: Sky Study


Not on display

Cornelius Varley 1781–1873
Graphite and watercolour on paper. Verso: graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 376 × 272 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

Display caption

Cornelius Varley was brought up from a young age by his uncle Samuel, an instrument maker and amateur scientist. For many years, Cornelius Varley's own interest in science ran in tandem with his practice as an artist. He seems to have been strongly influenced by Thomas Girtin's reputed habit of sketching from nature in all weathers. Like Girtin, he made an impressive range of coloured nature studies - of clouds, trees and stretches of open countryside. Many of them are left unfinished, which suggests that the impulse behind them is a much scientific curiosity as artistic feeling. In 1811 Cornelius Varley patented an instrument known as the Graphic Telescope. This could project a reduced image onto paper, which could then be traced by hand.

Gallery label, September 2004

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