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Derwent Water from the Castle Head

Copley Fielding (1787-1855)


Signed and dated 1849

Watercolour with gum arabic

11 x 17 inches

'Chris Beetles Summer Show', 2020, No 27

Yorkshire-born Copley Fielding spent his late teenage years, until 1807, with his family in Keswick, on the northern shore of Derwent Water, in Cumberland (now in Cumbria). Though based in Southern England from 1809, he often returned to the Lake District on sketching tours, and exhibited paintings of the area regularly and frequently at the Society of Painters in Water Colours until 1854, the year before his death.

For the present work, Fielding chose a classic viewpoint from which to depict Derwent Water. The low wooded hill of Castlehead, just outside Keswick, allows a panorama looking south that includes Rampsholme Island, Lord’s Island and St Herbert’s Island in the lake itself and the fell known as Catbells in the background.

Though Fielding would certainly have known the place himself, he seems to have founded his composition on an image by Thomas Allom, which was engraved by Samuel Lacey and published in Thomas Rose’s topographical guide of 1832, Westmoreland, Cumberland, Durham & Northumberland. In turn, Allom’s image must have been based on W F Kangiesser’s watercolour of about 20 years earlier (now held in the British Museum), as it is almost identical, even to a similar trio of figures on the left and the same dispersal of boats upon the water.