Memory Maps: Selected paintings & drawingsThis selection of paintings and drawings forms part of the Memory Maps project, and represents many works from the Museum's collection depicting places and activities in Essex & Suffolk.
Tea Shop in the High Street, Colchester
Walter Bayes was a founding, if minor, member of Walter Sickert's Camden Town group; fittingly, most of his contributions to Recording Britain are scenes of popular entertainment or public scenes where all levels of society mixed. The genteel setting of a provincial tea room is quite unusual in his oeuvre. His trademark crosshatching lends a liveliness to the scene, suggesting the buzz of polite conversation.
The Cattle Market, Braintree
When Walter Bayes painted this scene, the cattle market was one of the liveliest sites in the busy market town of Braintree. The cattle market continued to function for several decades following the war, but was ultimately torn down in the 1980s and replaced by a supermarket.
St Osyth's Quay
St Osyth, a creekside village long associated with boating and known for its medieval Priory, has changed little since Suddaby painted its quay. The vigorous, almost expressionistic rendering of the sky and clouds recalls the later watercolours of John Constable.
Boys collecting bracken on the Breckland
The Breckland, a stretch of heath and forest on the border between Suffolk and Norfolk, is one of the wildest and least settled parts of East Anglia. For centuries, the sparse local population used the bracken ferns that gave the area its name for fuel, animal feed and roof thatch. Although the practice largely died out in the twentieth century, Mona Moore here depicts local boys gathering bracken, in what today seems like a nostalgic glimpse into the past. The Breckland, however, looks much the same today; it has largely been preserved from development.
Wiveton Church, from Clay
Martin Hardie, best remembered as a curator in the V&A's Prints department, was also a respected watercolourist who contributed steadily to the Recording Britain scheme. This view of Wiveton church from across a water meadow betrays his debts to Constable, particularly in his portrayal of the scudding clouds. Wiveton church dates from 1437. Built in the Perpendicular style, its size and beauty testify to Wiveton's wealth and high standing as a port in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
House on the Square, King's Lynn
The unusual decoration of the facade of this house is chequered flint, a type of decoration commonly found in Norfolk. Barbara Jones was probably attracted by the unexpected clash of traditional local craft and the bizarre later addition of a Neo-Classical doorway complete with Corinthian columns. Many of her contributions to the Recording Britain project celebrate time-honoured crafts while mourning their passing in an increasingly mechanised world.
Castle Farm, Terrington St John, near King's Lynn
Barbara Jones's enthusiasm for the old 'popular arts' associated with rural life and her dismay at their neglect and decay are apparent in this simple image of a Norfolk farmhouse. The property seems eerily empty, the only living presence that of a dog lying in the grass and a cat curled up on a windowsill. One shutter hanging askew seems to foreshadow the dilapidation that will overtake the farm.
18th Century Houses, South Quay, Great Yarmouth
These fine eighteenth-century houses lining the quay are a testament to Great Yarmouth's former status as one of the wealthiest towns in England. The Norfolk port was once the site of a prosperous herring fishery; in the late nineteenth century, however, the fishing industry gave way to tourism as the town's main source of income. Mona Moore, a noted illustrator in the 1930s and 1940s, contributed eight watercolours of Norfolk to the Recording Britain project. They were singled out for praise at an exhibition of the Queen's Pictures at the National Gallery in 1942, one critic praising their 'lyric atmosphere that is almost a substitute for a holiday in Norwich'.
Agricultural Show, Essex, 1973
A time-honoured ritual of rural life -- the agricultural show -- takes a surprising turn when a human visitor finds herself confronted by a four-legged one. Conrad Hafenrichter, a documentary photographer most active in the 1970s and 1980s, is noted for his gently satirical images of people and animals. His ability to draw out the more ridiculous aspects of mundane activities places his work in a similar vein to his better-known contemporary Martin Parr.
The Abbey, Little Coggeshall
An abbey has stood at Little Coggeshall since 1142. The building shown here, St. Nicholas's Chapel, dates from much later, and has undergone dramatic changes. After the suppression of the abbeys by Henry VIII, much of Little Coggeshall Abbey was pulled down and this chapel, the only surviving building, was converted into a stable with an attached pigsty. It was only restored to its original function as a church in 1860. Little Coggeshall was bombed on 16 September 1940 -- close to the date when Walter Bayes painted this picture -- but only suffered light damage. The abbey emerged unscathed.
Brent Hall from the South, Finchingfield
Brent Hall near Finchingfield achieved a modicum of fame during the Civil War as the home of Edward Benlowes, a poet who lent his support to the Royalist cause. The house burned down in his lifetime, and the building depicted in this watercolour is a reconstruction. Kenneth Rowntree's watercolours of Essex for the Recording Britain scheme focussed almost exclusively on churchs and chapels; this is the only secular subject he depicted in his pictures of the county.
The Cricket Green, Great Bentley
Great Bentley is said to have the largest village green in England, at 43 acres. Cricket has been played on it since the later eighteenth century. Walter Bayes captures a typical match on the green, which is surrounded by many village landmarks, including the tower of the Church of St Mary the Virgin. This corner of the village landscape has changed little since this watercolour was painted.
Market Street, Newmarket
Raymond Cowern's 1931-1940 etchings are regarded as some of the finest late products of the British etching tradition, and it is significant that his fine, subtle etching style carries over into other media, as in this wash drawing. Newmarket, a busy market town in northern Suffolk, has been synonymous with horse racing since the seventeenth century, but here Cowern concentrates on an equally traditional, and much older, side of the town -- a market street.
Aldeburgh from Thorpeness
Martin Hardie, best remembered as a groundbreaking Keeper of the V&A's Prints department, was also a respected watercolourist who contributed works to the Recording Britain project. This view of Aldeburgh from the nineteenth-century model town of Thorpeness is deliberately unpicturesque, making no reference to the beaches and seaside architecture for which both towns were known. The low horizon line, muted palette, and flat coastal landscape recall the 'tonal' school seventeenth-century Dutch landscape.
The Mill at Parham
Jack L. Airy seems to have been a talented amateur, for his career is not recorded. He contributed eight watercolours of sites in Suffolk to the Recording Britain scheme; the stiff, somewhat naive drawing style typical of his work is very much in evidence here.Parham, a sleepy Suffolk village, earned a brief moment of fame during the Second World War when it became the site of an American Air Force base.
Algernon Newton's reputation rests chiefly on his eerily deserted London cityscapes; rural subject matter such as this drawing represents a departure for him. Despite this, he was an enthusiastic contributor to the Recording Britain project, with eight drawings of sites in Suffolk alone. Giffords Hall has stood on this site near Wickhambrook, Suffolk, since the fifteenth century. It was once the home of a noble Catholic family, the Mannocks.
Woodbridge from the South
Woodbridge, situated near the mouth of the River Deben, has long been associated with shipbuilding and boating activity. Robins's view takes in many of its most notable features, including the tower of St Mary's Church and the Tide Mill, whose wheel was turned by the ebb and flow of the estuary tide.
The Suffolk village of Snape is best known today for its associations with the composer Benjamin Britten, but throughout the nineteenth century its bridge was its most salient feature. Snape sits near the mouth of the River Alde, and its bridge is the first one inland from the mouth. Smugglers used the bridge to move goods across the river; in fact, the dormer window in the Crown public house was used to signal the all-clear to smugglers once the militias who guarded the bridge were in the bar below seeking refreshment. The red brick hump-back bridge depicted by Hardie was replaced in 1960 by a structure that could better accommodate cars.
Old Houses, Ballingdon
This watercolour is one of four views of Sudbury and its environs (in this case, the village of Ballingdon) painted by Rowland Suddaby for the Recording Britain scheme. Sudbury held special meaning for Suddaby as the birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough, whose landscapes he often emulated; in fact, after the war, he settled in Sudbury and became curator of the Gainsborough House.
St. Bartholomew's Church, Orford, from the North-West
The Recording Britain project includes two views of St Bartholomew's Church in Orford; this one, by the talented amateur Louisa Puller, is the more conventional of the two, with its view of the church in high summer, looking across a motley group of cottages, back gardens and lean-tos. The other view, by Jack L. Airy, shows the church from the opposite side, its ruined tower banked in snow. Such repetition is unusual in the scheme, but was felt to be justified because the two pictures are so different in conception and in character.
The ferry of the tiny hamlet of Bawdsey, on the mouth of the River Deben in Suffolk, looks across to Felixstowe and its Martello Tower, a relic of the Napoleonic wars. Bawdsey itself played an important role in the defense of Britain during the Second World War: uphill from the ferry stood a Chain Home radar station, one of fifteen that defended the coast. Martin Hardie is better known today as a writer and art historian (including a 37-year stint in the Print Department at the V&A, of which he became keeper in 1921) than as an artist. He personally donated several of his Recording Britain watercolours to the V&A.
A House and Cottage near the Quay at Orford
Jack L. Airy seems to have been an amateur artist, for his career is not recorded. This watercolour of a house and cottage at Orford is typical of his naive style, with broad areas of flat, bright colour and schematic outlines. Of the eight watercolours of sites in Suffolk that he contributed to the Recording Britain project, four were of Orford and its environs.
Prior's Hall Barn, Widdington
Prior's Hall Barn is one of the finest surviving medieval barns in southeast England, and is a representative example of the aisled barns found in northwest Essex. This view of the exterior shows the brown post roof, but gives only a hint of the fine timberwork inside. After the war, the barn was purchased and restored by English Heritage.
The Old Sun Inn, Saffron Walden
The Old Sun Inn, established in the fourteenth century, is one of the most illustrious inns in England. The diarist Samuel Pepys and the writer John Evelyn both recorded visits, and Oliver Cromwell is said to have stayed there during the Civil War. It is especially renowned for the ornate plasterwork, or 'pargetting', on its facade, depicting the legendary figures of Tom Hickathrift and the Wisbech Giant. Although the Sun is no longer an inn, the building survives today, housing an antique shop.
Epping High Street
One of the few watercolours William P. Robins contributed to the Recording Britain scheme (most of his works were monochrome wash drawings), this tranquil view of Epping High Street belies the town's close proximity to London. Founded during the reign of Elizabeth I as the site of a market and two annual fairs, this town, on the edge of Epping Forest, has never been absorbed by outer London as have many other Essex towns. However, it is the last stop on the Central Line of the London Underground.
Waltham Abbey has long been an iconic historical site. Harold, the last king of Saxon England, was buried there after his defeat and death in the Battle of Hastings in 1066; later, the abbey became the focus of pilgrimmages for thanks to its miraculous Holy Rood. Waltham, located on the edge of Epping Forest, has never entirely been absorbed by London, but when Du Plessis painted this scene most of it had already been modernised. The abbey and its immediate surroundings are the only part of Waltham to retain their medieval features.
Evening View of Sudbury from the South-west
This is the most dramatic of three views of Sudbury painted by Rowland Suddaby. Suddaby, a native of Surrey, spent a great part of his career painting Suffolk landscapes. This watercolour may pay tribute to Sudbury's most famous son, the painter Thomas Gainsborough. Indeed, after the war, Suddaby settled there, eventually becoming curator of the Gainsborough House.
Bridge over the Blackwater at Coggeshall
Walter Bayes made relatively few forays into pastoral scenes; this view of the River Blackwater flowing past Coggeshall is one of the exceptions. The picture could be considered an update of traditional rustic genre painting; the couple reclining on the river bank might well be modern versions of the shepherdess and her swain.Ironically, while many of Bayes's urban pictures for the Recording Britain scheme depict sites that changed drastically or disappeared after the war, the scene depicted here remains largely unchanged today.
Interior, showing a box and the stage, of the Old Grand Theatre, now the Gaumont Hippodrome, Colchester
Walter Bayes was a founding, but minor, member of the Camden Town Group, and this watercolour in particular demonstrates his debt to the group's leader, Walter Sickert. Music hall and theatre interiors were a favourite subject of Sickert, but whereas he preferred to concentrate on the eerie effects of flaring gas jets on the faces of performers and audience members, Bayes's pale watercolour tones emphasise the blazing lights and sparkling surfaces of the pink, white, and gilt decor of this Edwardian theatre. This, the second of two views he painted of this theatre interior, is dominated by the elaborate shell and pearl motif above the stage. The decoration pays tribute to local pride -- Colchester has long been known for its oysters. The Old Grand Theatre opened in Colchester in 1905, as the Grand Palace of Varieties. By the time Bayes painted this scene, the theatre was nearing the end of its existence as a venue for live performance. Many Victorian and Edwardian theatres were lost to dereliction and postwar development, but the Old Grand Theatre was relatively lucky: it became in turn a cinema and a bingo hall, before being restored inside and out in the 1980s and given a new lease on life as a nightclub.
The Church of St Margaret and the Abbey Ruins, Barking
Barking Abbey was first founded in 666 AD by St Erkenwald. The abbey was demolished after its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1541, and for the next three centuries it was used as a quarry and a farm. The ruins of the main church, shown here, were excavated in 1910 and became a small park. Although Barking was originally in Essex, the town was absorbed by London in the nineteenth century. However, the surroundings of St Margaret's Church and Barking Abbey have remained as pastoral as they were when Robins painted them.
The Abbey, Audley End
Audley End, one of the most splendid Jacobean country houses in England, was built on the site of Walden Abbey, a Benedictine monastery seized by Henry VIII. Robins has chosen to depict one of the few remnants of the abbey. Although no visual reference is made to the house, viewers who knew it would certainly have appreciated the contrast between the magnificence of Audley End and the modesty of this low-lying brick building nestled among trees.
River Brain, Witham
The River Brain, a tributary of the Blackwater, flows past Witham, one of the oldest settled areas of Essex. Du Plessis paints an idyllic pastoral scene, but he did not attempt to hide signs of progress, as did other Recording Britain artists: telephone poles and wires are visible at left. This watercolour is unusual in showing signs of the artist's working method. At the top of the sheet the ragged edge where it was torn from the sketchbook's spiral binding is still visible; Du Plessis almost certainly painted the picture on the spot.
The Pillory in the Castle Ruins, Saffron Walden
By the time Robins painted this scene, Walden Castle had been in ruins for nearly 200 years. Originally built in the twelfth century by Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, the castle suffered damage in the Civil War and was rebuilt in stone in the fourteenth century. By the eighteenth century, much of that stone had been removed for local building projects. The pillory, a common method of punishment and humiliation, probably dates from that time; its use was outlawed in England in 1837.
The Maltings, Saffron Walden
Saffron Walden, one of the oldest settled areas in Essex, derived its name from the saffron that began to be cultivated there in the fourteenth century. In the seventeenth century, barley replaced saffron as the main local source of income, and the malting industry flourished. Indeed, in the nineteenth century, the town's skyline was dominated by the maltings' conical roofs. By the time Robins arrived in Saffron Walden to paint the maltings, they were at the end of their useful lives: the last one closed shortly after the end of the war.
Pimp Hall Granary, Chingford
This Tudor half-timbered granary and barns are set in deceptively rural surroundings. By 1941, when Robins painted the scene, Chingford had already been an outer suburb of London for over half a century. It would eventually be absorbed into the London Borough of Waltham Forest in 1965. As Robins noted in the inscription, the granary and barns were the last remaining buildings of the Tudor manor of Pimp Hall. The manor went down in culinary history when Henry VIII, dining at a banquet there, jokingly knighted a cut of beef as 'Sir Loin'.
The Phoenix Eating House, Braintree
Although Bayes's watercolour may not make it seem particularly inviting, the Phoenix Eating House was a venerable institution in the market town of Braintree, serving market customers and traders for a modest sum (as can be seen on the price list above the table in the foreground). It finally closed its doors in the 1970s.
Chipping Hill, Witham
Witham lies at the geographical centre of Essex. Chipping Hill, which now lies to the north of the town centre, was the site of the first settlement, dating from the Iron Age. H.E. Du Plessis may have been aiming to capture the spirit of Essex by painting the heart, literally and historically, of the county. Progress has not bypassed this otherwise idyllic scene, however, and sadly, neither has the war: the 'Air Shelter' sign fixed to one of the houses is one of the few explicit references to World War II in the Recording Britain pictures.
Melford Hall, Long Melford
The handsome red-brick Melford Hall dominates the north side of Long Melford's village green. Badmin had already included it in a view of the green, but here he focuses on the house itself. His typically tight and meticulous handling of watercolour suggests the bright sunlight and strong shadows falling on the house facade in the afternoon. Melford Hall was originally built around 1560 and after the war became the property of the National Trust.
Ballroom at the Shire Hall, Chelmsford
The elegant neoclassical County Room in Chelmsford's Shire Hall was frequently used for balls throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Walter Bayes depicts one such event, its white-tie-and-tails gentility shattered by the loud laughter of a woman in green in the foreground. Two years before Bayes painted this picture, the same room had witnessed one of the strangest events in the Hall's history. A woman leaving a dance in the summer of 1938 died when her crinoline caught fire on the steps. The Coroner's inquest, however, failed to find the cause of the fire and under subsequent tests, the dress failed to ignite.
Tattooist's Parlour, Colchester
Walter Bayes's roots as a member of the Camden Town Group are apparent here in his emphatically unidealised depiction of a humble Colchester tattooist's parlour and its customers. Getting a tattoo is often considered a rite of passage, and the fact that this tattooist's customers are all soldiers about to go off to war adds a darker significance to the scene. This is, in fact, one of the few Recording Britain pictures to make explicit reference to the war.
Inside the Nag's Head at Braintree on Market Day
Walter Bayes was fairly unique among the artists involved in the Recording Britain scheme in his interest in the human figure. This scene of market-day drinkers in a Braintree pub, with its slightly caricatured drinkers and scowling blonde barmaid, is characteristic of his sharp observation of human foible. Despite the satirical depiction of the pub's denizens, this is an image of nostalgia for tradition about to be lost: such scenes would become rare following the war.
All Saints' Church and the Castle Inn, High Street, Colchester
This view of Colchester High Street is the sole pen and pencil drawing among Walter Bayes's twenty-three Essex pictures for the Recording Britain project. The light, rapid penstrokes give an impression of the lively movement of pedestrians and cyclists in this busy street. The church, despite its prominence in the picture's title, is difficult to find: it almost seems to blend into the trees standing in front of it. The Castle Inn is drawn considerably more firmly, as if it occupied the more important position in Colchester life.
SS Peter and Paul, Little Saling, Essex
With one exception, all of Kenneth Rowntree's Essex pictures for 'Recording Britain' were of churches and chapels, and the church of SS. Peter and Paul in Little Saling was particular favourite. This is the only exterior view he painted of the church. The unusually narrow format echoes the form and proportions of the fourteenth-century church with its round tower. He made no attempt to disguise the signs of neglect apparent in and around the church: large flakes of plaster have fallen from the tower, and the churchyard is overgrown. At the time Rowntree painted this watercolour, he was living in the nearby village of Great Bardfield, which numbered among its residents the artists Michael Rothenstein, Eric Ravilious, and Edward Bawden. Ravilious and Bawden were largely responsible for the revival of watercolour painting in the 1930s, developing a fresh, distinctive style with an emphasis on pattern and decoration. On the evidence of his 'Recording Britain' pictures, Rowntree was very much a part of this tendency.
Post Mill, Finchingfield, Essex
Finchingfield, one of the most picturesque villages in East Anglia, is one of relatively few to retain one of its old mills. One of four that originally stood there in the late eighteenth century, this post mill (whose structure could be turned on a central post so that the sails always faced into the wind) had become redundant and fallen into decay by the time Michael Rothenstein painted it in 1943. Perhaps because of the attention Rothenstein drew to this state of affairs, the mill was ultimately preserved: the County Council took over its preservation in 1956, and the mill is still open to the public today. Rothenstein lived nearby at Great Bardfield and painted several of the local mills. Here, he chose to focus on the weed-choked yard behind the mill, an indicator of its long neglect. The thatched roof beyond belongs to what was once the miller's cottage.
East Bergholt Church: north archway of the ruined tower
East Bergholt Church features frequently in Constable's watercolours, but this view of the ruined tower is relatively unusual. Images of ruins were a recurrent theme in Romantic art and literature. Constable would return to painting ruins after the death of his wife in 1828, when they took on a more personal significance.This watercolour is difficult to date because Constable preserved the same manner in his watercolours of East Bergholt Church for a number of years. It was probably painted between 1805 and 1811.
A dog watching a rat in the water at Dedham
Although Constable often included animals in his landscapes, images of individual animals are unusual in his oeuvre. This lively depiction of a dog watching a water rat eschews the sentimentality that was to characterise much animal painting in the coming decades. Constable probably made this watercolour while travelling from London to Suffolk to collect his daughters, who were staying with his family there.
Constable departed from his usual practice of sketching from nature in this depiction of Stoke-by-Nayland by moonlight. This studio composition alters the height and shape of the church tower, as well as the shape of the hill in the background. It is possible he intended to make a generalised image that could be taken for any church and village, rather than a specific site. Ironically, a mezzotint engraving made after this drawing by David Lucas is more topographically exact.
A house, cottage and trees by moonlight
This wash drawing of an unidentified moonlit landscape is typical of Constable's last phase. He employed the medium of wash frequently in his later years, using it to produce expressionistic sketches that verged on abstraction. These were never intended for the public eye, and would have been considered unacceptable for exhibition by the standards of the day.
A mill on the banks of the River Stour
This drawing of a mill on a peaceful stretch of the Stour, made in 1802, the year Constable first exhibited at the Royal Academy, received a new lease on life in 1810, when an engraving was made after it. Constable may have made an oil painting or watercolour after the drawing, but this has so far not been identified.
Jaques and the wounded stag
Constable was commissioned in 1834 to design a wood-engraving for 'The Seven Ages of Shakespeare', published by John Van Voorst. Although this sketch was not used for the engraving, the subject of Jaques, the melancholic philosopher of Shakespeare's comedy 'As You Like It' clearly captured his interest. John Martin, who had commissioned the design, wrote in the introduction to the book: 'The interest which [Constable] took in the trifling affair required of him, is best evinced by the fact that he had made nearly twenty sketches for the melancholy Jaques'.
East Bergholt Church: part of the west end seen beyond a group of elms
Constable made his first visit to Salisbury in 1811. Although he spent most of the following year at home in Suffolk, he retained in this sketch of East Bergholt Church the unusual style he had developed in his sketches of Salisbury Cathedral: a careful, finely detailed rendering of the church and fluid, dashing strokes to delineate the foliage of the surrounding trees.
Study of ash trees
Constable usually made studies directly from nature for his large oil paintings, and this study of ash trees may be an example of his working method: the foremost tree, with a dead branch hanging against its trunk, appears to be the same as that in the right foreground of a painting owned by Tate Britain, 'The Valley Farm'. However, the sketch's resemblance to studies of ash trees at Hampstead may suggest that this is an independent drawing, done after the completion of the painting.
The Bellringer's Chamber, SS. Peter and Paul Church, Clare
Kenneth Rowntree's crisp, colourful style, bordering on Magical Realism, is very much in evidence in this watercolour of the bellringer's chamber in Clare church. The church dates from the Norman Conquest and the beauty of its fifteenth-century nave and chancel are well known, but here Rowntree concentrates on the text of a notice board detailing early church donors. Rowntree often emphasised the written word in his pictures of churches and chapels; perhaps, as a Quaker unable to bear witness or testify, these texts held special import for him as 'found objects'. Indeed, in later years he acknowledged that 'words are what my work is really all about'.
Harwich: the seashore and lighthouse
This atmospheric drawing of the misty, windswept seashore at Harwich was the sketch for the oil painting 'Harwich: Sea and Lighthouse' which Constable probably exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1820 (now in Tate Britain). However, there has been some debate about when exactly he made the sketch. Constable's handwriting was difficult to read and his spelling idiosyncratic. While the inscription on the lower right was once thought to read '1815', the last figure in the date is now illegible.
Fishing with a net on the lake in Wivenhoe Park
Constable made several visits to Wivenhoe Park, near Colchester, Essex, between 1812 and 1816. Major-General Rebow, who owned the estate, commissioned him to paint two small landscapes of the environs. This small pencil sketch may have been a preparatory study for the first painting, but although Constable did show men fishing from a boat in the finished picture, he used neither the composition nor that detail from the sketch. Constable made this sketch a few months before his marriage to Maria Bicknell. The couple had been engaged since 1809, but due to the disapproval of their parents and Constable's precarious financial state, they were forced to wait seven years to marry. Writing to Maria after the visit to Wivenhoe Park when he made this sketch, he said of his hosts, 'They are both well acquainted with our history, and hope to see us there together.'
Cottage at East Bergholt
This sketch of a cottage in Constable's native East Bergholt is one of his earliest known dated drawings. The light, schematic, somewhat tentative style is typical of his early work. It is drawn on the only sheet divided to accommodate two sketches. In 1796, the year Constable created the sketchbook from which this drawing comes, he had not yet committed himself to an artistic career; it was assumed that he would enter his father's business. The same year, he met the writer J. T. 'Antiquity' Smith, who was collecting material for a book on rural scenery. Constable offered him several sketches of local cottages for possible inclusion in the book. Although Smith responded positively, he ultimately chose not to include any of Constable's cottage sketches in the published book.
Cottage at Capel, Suffolk
This drawing of a cottage at Capel, Suffolk, is one of the earliest dated drawings by Constable of which the whereabouts are now known. The light, schematic, somewhat tentative style is typical of his early work. In 1796, the year Constable created the sketchbook from which this drawing comes, he had not yet committed himself to an artistic career; it was assumed that he would enter his father's business. The same year, he met the writer J. T. 'Antiquity' Smith, who was collecting material for a book on rural scenery. Constable offered him several sketches of local cottages for possible inclusion in the book. Although Smith responded positively, he ultimately chose not to include any of Constable's cottage sketches in the published book.
Landscape with a stream at Wenham
This drawing of a landscape near Wenham, Suffolk, is one of the earliest dated drawings by Constable of which the whereabouts are now known. In 1796, the year Constable created the sketchbook from which this drawing comes, he had not yet committed himself to an artistic career; it was assumed that he would enter his father's business. The same year, he met the writer J. T. 'Antiquity' Smith, who was collecting material for a book on rural scenery. Constable offered him several light, schematic sketches of local cottages for possible inclusion in the book. Although Smith responded positively, he ultimately chose not to include any of Constable's cottage sketches in the published book.
A ruined cottage at Capel, Suffolk
Constable's inscription at the top of the drawing notes that this cottage was the subject of a local legend. A few years previously, an old woman had burned to death inside, leaving the rest of the cottage unscathed by the flames; apparently witchcraft was suspected. This drawing comes from Constable's earliest known sketchbook. In 1796, he had not yet committed himself to an artistic career and it was assumed that he would enter his father's business in Suffolk. That year he met the writer J. T. 'Antiquity' Smith, who was collecting material for a book on rural scenery, and showed him several drawings of local cottages -- perhaps including this one -- for possible inclusion. Although Smith responded positively, he ultimately did not use any of Constable's sketches in the published book.
Colchester from the North Station
Colchester is the largest city in Essex, but this unexpectedly pastoral scene belies its size. Walter Bayes's other Colchester pictures are mainly busy street scenes. This view from the North train station focuses on a quiet neighbourhood park with a few people strolling in it; the city is relegated to the horizon, with a church spire and other buildings visible in the distance.
Post Mill, Essex
Post mills like this one once dotted the landscape of Essex and East Anglia. Their innovative design allowed the mill to be turned to face into the wind whenever the wind's direction changed. Eric de Mare, a trained architect and one of the most acclaimed architectural photographers in Britain, devoted much of his career to recording Britain's neglected industrial heritage. His photographs of bridges, factories, and warehouses demonstrated that functional design was not an invention of the twentieth century, but had a long and honourable tradition in British architecture.
Cottage at East Bergholt, with a cottager
This sketch of a cottage in Constable's native East Bergholt is one of his earliest known dated drawings. The light, schematic, somewhat tentative style is typical of his early work. However, it is one of only two drawings in his first sketchbook to include a human figure, and is on the only sheet divided to accommodate two drawings. In 1796, the year Constable created the sketchbook from which this drawing comes, he had not yet committed himself to an artistic career; it was assumed that he would enter his father's business. The same year, he met the writer J. T. 'Antiquity' Smith, who was collecting material for a book on rural scenery. Constable offered him several sketches of local cottages for possible inclusion in the book. Although Smith responded positively, he ultimately chose not to include any of Constable's cottage sketches in the published book.
Interior of SS Peter and Paul, Little Saling, Essex
In 1940 the Ministry of Labour, in association with the Pilgrim Trust, established a project to commission artists to provide a record of the changing face of Britain. This remarkably ambitious scheme was known as 'Recording Britain'. The secretary of the Central Institute of Art and Design recommended in 1939 that 'artists should be appointed to make drawings, paintings and prints at the war fronts, in factories, workshops, shipyards and on the land, and of the changed life of the towns and villages, thus making a permanent record of life during the war which would be a memorial to the national effort, and of particular local value'. The impetus behind the project was the threat of extensive bomb damage throughout the Second World War, particularly in the cities but also in the countryside. This watercolour was commissioned for the 'Recording Britain' project. Kenneth Rowntree (1915-1997) painted views in several English and Welsh counties. In Essex (where he was then living), his contribution was a series of exteriors and interiors of local churches. He specialised in the art of watercolour, and demonstrates a freshness of colour and brushwork. This church at Little Saling, Essex, dates from the 14th century.
Interior, Black Chapel, North End, near Dunmow, Essex
Most of Kenneth Rowntree's Essex watercolours for the Recording Britain scheme depicted parish churches and chapels. His usual practice was to drive to them during the week and remain for two days or more, 'absolutely solitary', as he recalled. He represented the interior of the Black Chapel as an elating and intimate place, more closely resembling the Quaker meeting-houses in which he worshipped than an Anglican chapel. He claimed to have experienced an uncanny company here; the chapel was 'the most exiting place I'd been in, with a feeling of being with people', despite its emptiness. Similar thoughts were much on people's minds; the same year, when Nazi invasion of Britain was imminent, an article by Geoffrey Grigson in the July 1940 edition of the 'Architectural Review' cited Thomas Hardy's view of a church as 'a meeting place of the dead, the living and the unborn'.
Dedham Lock and Mill
This sketch is based upon a small pencil drawing dated 22 July 1816. It depicts a mill belonging to Constable's father, a sluice and lock gate on the River Stour, and the tower of Dedham church. It was the model for several larger Constable paintings.
Study of sky and trees
Constable painted this study of the sky in Hampstead during changeable weather. He wrote on the back: 'Sepr.24th..10 o'clock morning wind S.W. warm & fine till afternoon, when it rained & wind got more to the north'.
Constable based this study on the work of another artist. He rarely did this. However, here he used 'Hagar and the Angel', which the French artist Claude Lorrain painted in 1646. Constable esteemed Claude as 'the most perfect landscape painter the world ever saw'.
Long Melford Green on a Frosty Morning, Suffolk
Long Melford, like many medieval Suffolk villages, grew up around the wool trade. Its most famous aspect is its mile-long high street, but it, unusually, also possesses a large, elongated village green. At tthe top of the green stands the imposing Church of the Holy Trinity, often considered the finest village church in England. Badmin was fascinated by seasonal changes and this is his real subject here; the watercolour's full title is 'Long Melford Green on a frosty morning'. The year after painting the splendid group of elms that dominates the composition, he began work on the illustrations for 'Trees in Britain' (published by Puffin in 1942). Sadly, the elms, victims of Dutch elm disease, no longer stand on Long Melford Green.
Flatford Mill from a lock on the Stour
This shows the mill that belonged to John Constable's father. It is a study for a painting exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1812. Constable deleted the figure at the left - a man opening the lock gates - in the final composition. Constable recalled: 'I associate my careless boyhood to all that lies on the banks of the Stour'.
The Livermore Tombs, Barnston, Essex
These tombstones in the churchyard at Barnston, Essex, tell a sad tale. Four of the daughters of Edward and Sarah Livermore died young: the first, Martha Susannah, died of 'a slow decline' at the age of fourteen in 1827. Thirteen years later, in 1840, Emma, age 22, was thrown from her horse. Eight months after that, Jane, nineteen, died of a heart attack, closely followed by sixteen-year-old Maria who succumbed to smallpox. Kenneth Rowntree's deliberately prosaic and finely detailed view not only gives an insight into the fates of the Livermore daughters, but also provides a valuable record of the appearance of a typical country churchyard before the mass clearances of the 1950s and 1960s. Not only was much local social history lost, the gravestones themselves, fine examples of the mason's craft, were often broken up.
Wooded Moonlight Landscape with Pool and Figure at the Door of a Cottage
The following description of this painting appeared in 1824. 'The Cottage - Representing a most powerful effect of fire-light in the interior. The artist has given considerable interest to this subject by introducing the cottager opening the door: the contrast between the light of the cottage and that of the moon, excite the most pleasing association in the mind'.
Savage's Yard, King's Lynn, Norfolk
In the late 19th century, King's Lynn in Norfolk was a major centre of the manufacture of merry-go-rounds and other fairground attractions. Savage's Yard was the headquarters of the trade, developing and building magnificent steam-powered merry-go-rounds and fairground organs. By the time Barbara Jones painted this desolate scene, however, the traditional fairground had been superseded by more sophisticated amusements. The brightly-painted horse in the centre of picture would have been placed in the inner circle of a merry-go-round; horses in the outer circle were elaborately carved as well as painted. The two male figures in eighteenth-century dress perched on the organ are automata who would strike bells or drums in time to the organ's music.
Cottage Gardens, Dalham, Suffolk
A perfect expression of the English Picturesque, Cowern's picture demonstrates how village settlements expanded by gradual accretion, the cottages as much an organic growth as the landscape in which they are set. Surrounded by outhouses and lean-tos, these untidy cottages are the antithesis of the artificial neatness of the 'well-kept' villages of commuters and weekenders that became popular after World War II. The gardens shown here are true cottage gardens -- plots given over to fruit, vegetables and herbs, with flowers providing an incidental splash of colour. The concept of the 'cottage garden' today, as a plot planted with masses of old-fashioned flowers, is an invention of the wealthy: no labourer could have afforded to replace his vegetables with flowers.
Study of the trunk of an elm tree
Constable probably painted this remarkable sketch in Hampstead. It is so realistic that it has an almost photographic quality. The artist's friend and biographer C.R. Leslie recalled: 'I have seen him admire a fine tree with an ecstasy of delight like that with which he would catch up a beautiful child in his arms'.
John Deakin was notorious for his brutal, no-holds-barred portraits of bohemian Soho in the 1950s, and this portrait of the artist Francis Bacon is no exception. Taken while Deakin and Bacon shared a cottage in the artists' colony of Wivenhoe Park, Essex, this portrait lays bare even the tiniest physical imperfection without diminishing the power of Bacon's wide-eyed gaze, simultaneously confrontational and anguished. Deakin considered himself a painter first and was neglectful of his own photographs; as a result, most of his surviving work is torn and creased. His reputation, which had languished after his death in 1972, was revived by the V&A's 1984 exhibition 'The Salvage of the Photographer'.
Open Landscape with Peasants, Cows, Sheep, Cottages and Pool
Thomas Gainsborough, Open Landscape with Peasants, Cows, Sheep, Cottages and Pool, Great Britain, about 1786, Transparent oil on glass, Museum no. P.34-1955
Wooded River Landscape with Figures on a Bridge, Cottage, Sheep and Distant Mountains
Thomas Gainsborough, Wooded River Landscape with Figures on a Bridge, Cottage, Sheep and Distant Mountains, Great Britain, about 1783-84, Transparent oil on glass, Museum no. P.37-1955
Coastal Scene with Sailing and Rowing Boats and Figures on the Shore
Gainsborough used transparencies when planning a major composition. This one is a preliminary idea for a large oil painting exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1783. The artist reversed the composition in a later glass transparency and in the final painting.
Wooded Landscape with Herdsman driving Cattle
This composition derives from 17th-century Flemish painters such as Rubens. Here, the herdsman is driving the cattle from a pond overhung by trees where they have just been watered. The backlighting intensifies the reflective character of the pool.
This study of a sluice gate on a millstream may depict Dedham lock on the River Stour. Its sombre colours and agitated brushwork resemble the landscapes of the 17th-century Dutch painter Jacob Ruysdael, which Constable greatly admired.
Study of clouds
In October 1822 Constable wrote that he had made 'about 50 carefull studies of skies tolerably large'. This one is inscribed on the reverse: 'looking S.E. noon. Wind very brisk. & effect bright & fresh. Clouds. moving very fast. With occasional very bright openings to the blue'.
Study of cirrus clouds
Constable inscribed 'cirrus' on the reverse of this sketch. It shows his countryman's understanding of the weather. He also owned a copy of Researches about Atmospheric Phaenomena by Thomas Forster. It was published in 1815 'with a series of engravings, illustrative of the modifications of the clouds'.
Barges on the Stour, with Dedham Church in the distance
This oil sketch is one of the earliest to demonstrate Constable's vibrant and original mature style. The lock gates are probably near Flatford Mill. Constable was very familiar with the barges that carried grain on the River Stour.
Porch of East Bergholt Church;East Bergholt Church and Churchyard
The church of East Bergholt stood next to the house where Constable was born. This study shows its entrance porch. Constable painted few moonlit views. Its mood is reflective, similar to the mood of Thomas Gray's 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard'. This famous poem was published in 1751.
Eric de Mare, a trained architect and one of the most acclaimed architectural photographers in Britain, devoted much of his career to recording Britain's neglected industrial heritage. His photographs of bridges, factories, and warehouses demonstrated that functional design was not an invention of the twentieth century, but had a long and honourable tradition in British architecture. De Mare's spare, almost austere style is much in evidence in this image of an anonymous watermill in rural Essex, which he treats with the dignity usually accorded to monumental architecture.
An oak tree in a hayfield
'Portraits' of individual trees were a recurring subject in Constable's oeuvre. Often tranquil, sometimes dramatic, they often carried implications of stability and timelessness and reflected Constable's love of nature, which was both sensual and spiritual. In this sketch, Constable juxtaposed the broad crown of an old oak with a hayfield bathed in the late afternoon sun. This idyllic scene reflects the idea, widespread at the time, that a nation's countryside represented its social and political state; scenes of cultivation and husbandry indicated a state of order and harmony.
River scene at Mistley, Essex
Two of Constable's drawings of Mistley, a river port near Harwich, are in the Museum's collection. This view of the approach to Mistley by river, made either in 1817 or 1819, depicts the town in greater detail than the earlier view (1813). In the distance can be seen the twin towers of Mistley church, which was designed by the eminent architect Robert Adam.
Shipping, near Ipswich
Images of boat-building and shipping occupied a prominent place in Constable's work in 1815. 'Boat-building near Flatford Mill', an oil paintingalso in the Museum's collection and exhibited at the Royal Academy that year, is the best known work on this theme. This small drawing, on the other hand, was made during a journey home from visiting a friend near Ipswich. Many of Constable's drawings from 1815 centre on Suffolk, no doubt because he spent half the year there looking after his ailing father.
St. Bartholomew's Church from the South-West, Orford, Suffolk
Jack L. Airy appears, on the evidence of his schematic, naive style and the dearth of available biographical information, to have been a talented amateur. This view of St Bartholomew's Church in Orford is one of the best of the eight Suffolk pictures he contributed to the Recording Britain project. Though the perspective is unconvincing and the colours flat, it is nevertheless an accurate and evocative record of its subject. Airy's snowy, mid-winter view of the ruined tower (which had collapsed partially in 1829) complements Louisa Puller's more conventional view of the church taken from the fields in high summer. Such duplication was rare in the Recording Britain collection, but in this case was felt to be justified because the two pictures differed so sharply in conception and in character.
Sheep Shearing at Garrett's Farm, Bocking
The summer ritual of sheep-shearing has historically held a central place in Essex and East Anglia; much of the wealth of innumerable towns was based on the wool trade. While the trade plays a somewhat reduced role in local life today, it is still very much alive. Walter Bayes has captured the sweaty, exhausting nature of shearing, one part of the process unchanged by modern technology.
Fireplace at The George, Colchester
The George, a sixteenth-century coaching inn located in what is now Colchester's High Street, has been a genteel hotel since the nineteenth century. Walter Bayes, a founding member of the Camden Town group, depicted all levels of Colchester society in nine watercolours for the Recording Britain scheme in 1940. Here, in what verges on parody, his flair for social observation is apparent in his depiction of the slightly exaggerated animation of the guests chatting politely around the hotel's Tudor fireplace.
Henning Mill on the Stour
Water mills like Henning Mill were once a common sight along the River Stour and a major part of the local economy. By the time Rowland Suddaby painted this view, most of them had fallen into disuse, although some were preserved as heritage sites after the war. However, Suddaby presents this scene as timeless, with no reference to new technology or social change it could easily be an image from Constable's time.
Colts on Lexden Hill
Lexden, northwest of Colchester, has been noted since the nineteenth century for the beauty of its surroundings; it has long attracted artists. Surprisingly, given this illustrious history, this watercolour by Walter Bayes is the only depiction of Lexden in the whole of the Recording Britain scheme's collection of Essex pictures.
Cattle on the Stour, Dedham
The River Stour at Dedham has long had great resonance for landscape painters; John Constable painted many of his greatest, and best-known, works there. This pastoral scene by Walter Bayes consciously recalls Constable's scenes. All indications of modernity and the passage of time have been effaced; the small figures standing among the trees have been painted indistinctly so that their costume shows no sign of any particular period.
View of the Ruins of the Cloister, the Belfry of St. Mary's Church, and the Vicarage, Tilty
These ruins could almost be mistaken for part of the landscape if not for the rusting fence surrounding them. They are the sole remnants of Tilty Abbey, a Cistercian monastery founded in 1153. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries following his break with Rome, the abbey was demolished. Only the ruins of the cloister, shown here, and the chapel, which was converted into Tilty's parish church and whose belfry is visible in the background, survive.
St. Mary's Church, Tilty
This view of St. Mary's Church, Tilty, is one of three painted by Kenneth Rowntree for the Recording Britain scheme. The church's unusual shape and the sophisticated tracery on the east window hint at an illustrious history. Indeed, the church is the original chapel, and only surviving part, of Tilty Abbey, a Cistercian monastery founded in 1153. When the monastery was demolished following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, the chapel was preserved and given to the local peasantry as a parish church
Interior of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Lindsell
One of ten views of churches and chapels in Essex painted by Kenneth Rowntree for the Recording Britain scheme, this image of the interior of Lindsell parish church is one of the most dramatic. Rowntree's trademark magical realism is in evidence here, as is his painstaking attention to the written word (in this case, the gilded text of the Lord's Prayer). Unable to bear witness or testify verbally as a Quaker, Rowntree seems to have treated these texts as found objects and wrote them out again.
Red House Farm, Sproughton, near Ipswich
This watercolour of Red House Farm near Ipswich is one of the earliest works produced for the Recording Britain scheme. At the beginning, the project's purpose was to record sites vulnerable to encroaching urbanisation, rather than war damage, and this picture is no exception. The artist notes, on the back of the sheet, that while the painting is a faithful record of the farm's appearance in 1932, it had recently been sold and the adjoining land earmarked as the site of a housing estate by Ipswich council.
Raymond Cowern's reputation rests chiefly on his career as a printmaker. The fine, delicate drawing typical of his etchings carries over into this watercolour, a view of the outskirts of the small Suffolk village of Hartest.
East Bergholt Church and Bell Cage
In the heart of 'Constable Country' - the artist's hometown of East Bergholt - Russell Reeve takes up one of Constable's favourite subjects, the village church. In this watercolour he accords equal attention to one of the church's most striking features, its bell cage. The wooden bell cage, with its pyramidal roof, was initially erected as a temporary structure in 1531 following a halt in the building of the church's tower after the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey, who was financing the construction. Construction of the tower never resumed, and the bell cage has remained in use to this day. The bells, the heaviest set of five in England at 4400 kilos, are still rung by hand with wooden hammers.
A Cottage at Easton
Jack L. Airy's flat colour and schematic drawing are much in evidence in this watercolour of a cottage in the village of Easton, Suffolk. Airy produced eight views of Suffolk for the Recording Britain project; his career is not recorded, and this fact, in tandem with his naive style, makes it likely that he was a talented amateur. It is impossible to say whether the cottage he painted stands today, but it bears a strong resemblance to those which stand around the village green, many of which are painted the same pale pink.
Interior of the Baptist Chapel, Clare
Many of Kenneth Rowntree's watercolours for the Recording Britain scheme were of church or chapel interiors; perhaps, as a Quaker, he felt a particular affinity for nonconformist places of worship. He has depicted the interior of this Baptist chapel in Clare (one of several in the town's history) in his customary stiff, 'faux-naif' style, paying great attention to the texts on the walls and the flowers and sheaves of corn on the altar and altar rail.
Post mills, such as this one at Laxfield, were once a common sight in East Anglia. Few survive today; most became dilapidated and were pulled down following the war. Martin Hardie underlines the economic importance they once held in communities by showing this mill (one of two that once stood in the village) towering above the houses, dominating its surroundings.
Beccles, a peaceful riverside town at the southern extreme of the Norfolk Broads, basks in summer sunlight. The strong light and almost photographic quality are typical of the watercolours of Edward Walker. This is the only East Anglian scene he contributed to the Recording Britain project; most of his works for the project focused on Richmond, Surrey, where he was living at the time.
Fishermen's Almshouses, Great Yarmouth
Even in the prosperous fishing town of Great Yarmouth, fishermen often fell on hard times. These almshouses were built in 1702 as a home for 'decayed' fishermen and continued to function as such until the late nineteenth century. The statue of Charity standing before the gate underlines the nature of the buildings. This is one of eight watercolours Mona Moore made of Norfolk scenes for the Recording Britain project. When they were exhibited at the National Gallery in 1942 in the exhibition 'The Queen's Pictures at the National Gallery', they were singled out for praise in the 'News Chronicle', whose reviewer wrote, 'Miss Mona Moore's East Anglian paintings have a lyric atmosphere that is almost a substitute for a holiday in Norwich'.
High Street and Rutland Arms, Newmarket
Newmarket is best known for its race course, but all three of Raymond T. Cowern's watercolours of the town for Recording Britain focus on its status as a major Suffolk market town. This view of the high street shows it unusually deserted, perhaps a reference to the conditions enforced by the war.
The Firs (Farmhouse) near Sudbourne
This Georgian farmhouse is one of five farmhouses in the environs of Sudbourne, Suffolk depicted by Louisa Puller for the Recording Britain scheme. Some of Puller's farm watercolours reference the present by including signs of technological progress (usually telephone wires). However, this farmhouse nestled among fir trees projects an air of timelessness.
All Saints Church, from the Meadows, Sudbury
This is one of three views of Sudbury painted by Rowland Suddaby for the Recording Britain project. Sudbury, as the hometown of Thomas Gainsborough, seems to have had particular resonance for this artist, who admired and emulated his landscape paintings. Indeed, Suddaby made Sudbury his home after the war and became the curator of the Gainsborough House.
Follies, free-standing structures whose purpose is primarily the creator's self-expression, have dotted England for centuries. Freston Tower, a six-storey folly built in the sixteenth century (making it possibly the oldest folly in England), has long intrigued artists. Russell Reeve's watercolour belongs to a tradition of prints, drawings, and postcards depicting the tower that dates back to at least the eighteenth century. The tower's origins remain mysterious, and speculation thereon inspired an 1850 novel of the same name by local parson Richard Cobbold; Cobbold conjectured that it had been built by a Lord de Freston for his learned daughter Ellen, who studied a different subject on each of the tower's floors.
Seckford Hall, Bealings Magna (The Front)
Built of bricks made from local river mud, the Tudor Seckford Hall rises out of the landscape like a natural extension of the land. When Russell Reeve painted the rambling facade in 1941, the house's fate hung in the balance: saved from demolition by Sir Ralph Harwood in May 1940, it had been commandeered by the army to billet troops the following month. After the war ended, Sir Ralph carried out a thorough, if not entirely historically accurate, renovation. Seckford Hall was converted into a hotel in the 1950s and remains so today.
The Valley Farm, near Sudbourne
This is one of five farms in the environs of the Suffolk village of Sudbourne depicted by Louisa Puller for the Recording Britain scheme. Puller was notable among her colleagues for not attempting to hide signs of modernity or progress in her rural scenes; where other Recording Britain artists chose not to show recent innovations (such as wires, electric lights, or cars), Puller often included telephone wires in her farm scenes, as she has done here.
Crag Farm near Sudbourne
Louisa Puller depicted five different farms in the environs of the village of Sudbourne, Suffolk, for the Recording Britain project. The solid brick and plank barn and outbuildings surrounding the farmhouse of Crag Farm have a timeless air to them, belied by the telephone wires running overhead.
The Chantry Farm, Orford
The Chantry Farm, near Orford, is one of seven different Suffolk farms depicted by Louisa Puller for the Recording Britain project. Puller was the most widely-travelled Recording Britain artist, but her career is not recorded; she was most likely a talented amateur.
Orford Castle, one of the most perfectly preserved castles in Britain, was begun in 1165 by Henry II in an effort to consolidate his control over East Anglia. Only the keep survives today. The castle has been a popular tourist attraction since the nineteenth century. Martin Hardie has included a few visitors standing at the entrance to the keep to give an idea of its imposing scale.
Doughty's House at Theberton
This rambling house, the seat of Suffolk's Doughty family since the fourteenth century, was best known when Jack L. Airy painted it as the home of the eminent explorer, travel writer and poet Charles Montagu Doughty (1843-1926). Doughty's masterpiece, 'Travels in Arabia Deserta', first published in 1888, had been reissued with a new foreword by T. E. Lawrence in 1921, thus ensuring its fame for another generation. The flat colour and schematic drawing are typical of the work of Jack L. Airy, who contributed eight watercolours of Suffolk scenes to the Recording Britain scheme. His career is not recorded, and this, combined with his naive style, make it likely that he was a talented amateur.