(Norwich, United Kingdom, 1/9/1827 - 11/11/1856, Norwich, United Kingdom)
A Barn, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
12 7/8 x 19 in. (32.7 x 48.2 cm)
Europe, United Kingdom
Medium and Support
watercolour over traces of pencil on paper
Gift of Elaine and George Keyes
John Middleton employed a soft, muted palette to render this quiet provincial scene in Kent, England. Loose pencil markings in the foreground suggest the use of a preparatory sketch before applying the watercolor. Allowing the white of the paper to serve as highlights in the sky and on the side of the barn, the artist layered watercolor to create a range of tonal values, giving depth and perspective to the scene. Middleton belonged to the Norwich School, a regional society of painters inspired by Norwich and Norfolk County landscapes. Artists associated with this movement often painted outdoors to capture the realism of their surroundings. Studying under landscape painters John Berney Ladbrooke and Henry Bright, Middleton accompanied Bright on a tour of Kent in 1847. It was on this trip that he likely sketched and painted the watercolor here. Middleton’s oeuvre contains several scenes of Tunbridge Wells, a fashionable resort town in the nineteenth century visited by prominent figures such as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. While art historians have remarked on Middleton’s refreshingly modern works compared to his British contemporaries, his artistic career was relatively short due to his death at age twenty-nine.
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