Figures on a path by the Thames
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John Varley ( London 1778 - London 1842 )
At the age of 15, John Varley attended an evening drawing school in Holborn, London, run by J. C. Barrow. Throughout his career he worked primarily in watercolour. His first exhibited work was a View of Peterborough Cathedral (exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1798). In between sketching expeditions to Wales (1798 or 1799, 1800 and 1802) and Yorkshire (1803) he executed topographical views of towns—particularly of half-timbered buildings in Hereford, Leominster, Conway and Chester—drawn in the picturesque idiom of the late 18th century. From 1800 until as late as 1820 he attended evening classes at Dr Monro’s ‘Academy’ in London and also visited Monro’s cottage at Fetcham, Surrey. In company with Monro he executed the watercolour View from Polsden, Surrey (1800; Newcastle upon Tyne, Laing Art Gallery), which shows the influence of Thomas Girtin. This painting is inscribed Study from Nature, an inscription that recurs on some of his work as late as 1831.