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Heriot, George
Oystermouth Castle, Glanmorganshire Oystermouth Castle, Glanmorganshire
1810s 1810s

George Heriot studied at Royal Military Academy, in Woolwich, England, 1781 to about 1783, under Chief Drawing Master Paul Sandby. Along with academic subjects, students received daily lessons in topographical landscape. They were first instructed in the elements of light and shade and of perspective, before drawing outdoors, “from nature,” approaching the lay of the land as a potential battlefield. These lessons were intended to prepare a cadet for reconnaissance missions, but also to instill a refinement expected of Academy graduates.

In 1792, Heriot was appointed deputy postmaster general of British North America, a position that required extensive travel throughout the Canadas, during which he would also sketch the landscape. Heriot returned to Britain twice before his resignation in 1816.

Oystermouth Castle, Glamorganshire was made on his first leave in 1796-1797. Framed by a promontory to the left with a Sandby-like twisted and knotty tree, the vista opens to the sunlit architectural ruin of Oystermouth Castle. Though painted from sketches made on-the-spot, the view is shaped by the aesthetic ideal of the Picturesque, which valued irregularity. The haying figures and grazing cattle satisfy a Picturesque interest in the rural and provide scale as staffage. Built in the 10th century, Oystermouth Castle was by the 18th century a popular tourist destination and artistic subject.

Heriot’s Welsh watercolours were grander in conception than his previous work and revealed greater facility with the medium, tonal structure and spatial control. After this leave, Heriot returned to the Canadian landscape with renewed vigour.

 
Heriot, George
Haddington, Scotland 1759-London, England 1839 Haddington, Scotland 1759-London, England 1839
Oystermouth Castle, Glanmorganshire Oystermouth Castle, Glanmorganshire
1810s 1810s
Watercolour on paper Watercolour on paper
36.9 x 53.3 cm
Gift of Margot Finley, 2017 Gift of Margot Finley, 2017
60-004

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