Elegant Figures by the River Wear before Lumley Castle, County Durham
London, Society of Artists,1780, no.111
Thomas Hearne, along with Paul Sandby, was one of the greatest topographical artists working in England at the end of the 18th Century. Hearne began his artistic training under the popular engraver William Woolett and after spending several years in the Leeward Islands as Sir Ralph Payne’s (the Governor-General) official artist, Hearne returned to London in 1775. In England, Hearne’s work was purchased by many discerning collectors. Amongst them was Dr Thomas Monro whose private collection of Hearne’s watercolours was copied by J.M.W.Turner.
Hearne’s watercolours satisfied the late 18th Century demand for estate portraiture and topographical views. Estate portraits such as this one were specifically made to be widely engraved and sold to an eager general public. This view of Lumley Castle was engraved in Hearne’s famous publication entitled The Antiquities of Great Britain (1778). Hearne was a joint instigator in the scheme with William Byrne, the main engraver of the plates.