Samuel Prout (1783-1852) Important Listed Artist
A Roman Square
Watercolour, Pen and black Ink heightened with white on buff paper. Excellent Condition. Undated and Unsigned. Framed in an attractive English maple wood frame, in very good condition.
Measurements: * Folio: 41.5 x 30.3cm (approx 16 x 12 inches). * Framed: 63 x 56.5cm (approx 24.5 x 22 inches).
Samuel Prout (1783–1852) is a listed British Artist, whose work is present in many collections, including The Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and many more. He specialized in watercolor scenes of the architecture of Normandy which were often printed as engravings in illustrated books. They also contributed to the Romantic movement gaining popularity in Europe. Ruskin was a great fan of Prout's work. Recent auctions indicate the strong popularity of the Artist amongst museums and private collectors (see Lot 53 sold by Sothebys in London on 11 May 2005 for £2,760 and Lot 94 sold on 29 November 2000 for £28,100.
We are grateful to Dr Lindsay Stainton for providing this entry and for confirming that the present work is an autograph work by Samuel Prout (1783-1852). Please see further information below.
LITERATURE: T. H. Fielding, Samuel Prout, The Art of Engraving London, Ackermann & Co. 1844; Richard Lockett, Samuel Prout 1783-1852, 1985.
PROVENANCE: Private collection.
Samuel Prout (1783 1852) Born in Plymouth, Prout received his early art education at the Grammar School. He was first professionally employed as a topographical artist in 1801 by the publisher John Britton to draw views of Cornwall for an illustrated History, and at his invitation subsequently moved to London. He continued to work in a similar vein for the following decade, gaining a strong reputation for his pencil and watercolour views of English rural subjects, many of which were engraved. Suffering all his life from ill-health, he divided his time between Devon and London, where he had also established himself as a fashionable and successful drawing master. In1819 he was elected a member of the Old Watercolour Society and made his first sketching tour, to northern France.
For almost a generation, due to the Napoleonic Wars, it had been virtually impossible for the English to travel in Continental Europe, but with the onset of peace all this was to change. From 1819 until the mid-1840s Prout made frequent visits to France, Belgium, the Rhine and Bavaria and Italy. During this time he concentrated on painting the picturesque gothic architecture of many old continental towns for which he is best known. His sketches and oil paintings of Venice also provided him with a constant source of material, and popularized the beauty of the city several years before Turner began to paint Venetian subjects. Prout's views were highly sought after both by collectors and by publishers, who popularized his work though the enormously successful illustrated travel books that the new middle classes bought in large numbers. Prout is of considerable importance (as his former pupil Ruskin acknowledged) for his contribution to the new and serious appreciation of gothic architecture, which had been despised for several hundred years, but by the mi-nineteenth century, largely through Ruskin's advocacy, had become firmly re-established as the most admired historic style. Although Prout continued to travel and to paint into the late 1840s, his recurring ill-health meant that he left London and based himself in Hastings, on the English south coast. He died in February 1852.
A Roman Square is a typical example of Prout's calligraphic outline, which derived from Canaletto via his English imitators. A semi-invalid, most of his travel took place in the 1820s and 1830s, providing him with the material for subsequent compositions. Since he settled into a consistent style and was in the habit of repeating earlier compositions his work can be difficult to date. The atmosphere, detail and the effects of light and shade were without parallel, and an entire generation of artists after him tried in vain to emulate his art. John Ruskin found Prout's Italian sketches particularly evocative, as he wrote (Letter from Ruskin to Prout, May 1849) and late in life wrote to a friend: "Prout, of whom you have seen several beautiful examples here, is one of the loves which always remain fresh to me; sometimes I tire somewhat of Turner, but never of Prout."
Full documentation of the Lot, including the Entry signed by Dr Lindsay Stainton, as well as a list of her publications, will be forwarded to the Buyer.