JOHN HAMILTON MORTIMER A.R.A.
Banditti in the Mountains
signed with the artist's monogram lower left: JHM
Possibly Jane Mortimer, the artist’s wife
Christie’s, 25 March 1808, lot 59
Private Collection, UK
Sotheby’s, 7th July, 2021, lot 3
Acquired by A. Clayton-Payne & Co. Ltd
Possibly London, The Society of Artists, 1777, no 348
Kenwood House, London and Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne,
John Hamilton Mortimer, A.R.A., 1968, no.69
Hayward Art Gallery, London, Salvator Rosa, 1973, no,136
Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, A Peculiarly English Art, 1994, no.42
John Sunderland, John Hamilton Mortimer, His Life and Works, Walpole Society, Vol. L11, London, 1986, p.202, no.171, Fig. 298
This impressive drawing by Mortimer, one of his largest drawings, is unusual in his oeuvre for showing a vertical landscape with the figures being of secondary importance. The highly finished and intricate drawing with its obsessively detailed pen work focusing on the structure of the trees and mountain, must rank as one of his finest landscape drawings.
Described in the Christie’s sale catalogue of 1808 as ‘very spirited… a grand upright landscape with Banditti, in the style of Sal. [Salvator] Rosa’, the present drawing is particularly highly finished and monumental in scale.
From an early age, Mortimer, who occupied a central position in London’s art world from the 1760s until his untimely death in 1779, aspired - above all else - to be a history painter. In the last decade of his life he was greatly inspired by the theme of banditti, the depiction of wild, romantic and dangerous bandits that had previously populated the dramatic landscapes of Salvator Rosa (1615-1673).