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The Temple Of Saturn





Jonathan Skelton (active 1735-1758)

The Temple Of Saturn


Pen, ink and watercolour.

This is what is called a capriccio - where an artist selects elements from different views and puts them together into the same scene.

In this case Skelton has placed classical ruins from different locations in Rome side by side, included are the Temple of Concord and the Basilica of Maxentius.

Skelton was an English draughtsman. He is known through the series of letters he wrote from Italy to his patron William Herring (d 1774) of Croydon, brother of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and from a group of 84 pen, ink and watercolour drawings discovered in 1909.

Between 1754 and 1757 he produced views of Croydon, London, Rochester and Canterbury. He progressed from careful architectural renditions, such as Part of Lambeth Palace (1755; London, V&A), to less formal scenes more loosely handled, including Sandpit near Croydon (1756; London, BM).

In works such as the Medway near Sheerness (1757; London, BM) he began to treat landscape with considerable breadth and openness. Skelton's early work shows stylistic affinities with the watercolours of William Taverner and George Lambert, who may have been his teacher.

In 1758 Skelton left England for a two-year period of study in Rome, Tivoli and the environs, a trip cut short by his premature death. He was among the earliest British watercolourists to depict the sites in Italy associated with the Grand Tour.

His letters to Herring provide an invaluable record of expatriate artistic life in Italy in the mid-18th century, as well as documenting a young artist's encounter with nature and the traditions of landscape painting.

Although he worked in the idiom of 'tinted drawings' pen and ink finished with monochromatic washes, he also experimented with a more direct application of watercolour, anticipating the procedure of Paul Sandby.

While in Italy, he reported that he painted out of doors in both oil and watercolour.

Article By: Dave Roberts.

First Published: 2007.



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