John Varley

The Ouse Bridge, York

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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
John Varley 1778–1842
Chalk, charcoal and gouache on paper
Support: 270 × 340 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

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In this night scene, Varley used black chalk to outline the image. Forms were then filled in with a softer black chalk that has been smudged with a finger or stump. Varley seems to have reworked some of these areas further by going over them with a wet brush to disperse the pigment particles. The drawing has been subtly heightened with what initially appeared to be white chalk. However, closer inspection revealed that it is a white gouache that has been applied virtually dry. Ultraviolet examination revealed that Varley, like Lewis, was using the newly discovered zinc white.

Gallery label, August 2004

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