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Signed all over

Peter DeWint seldom signed his work. He considered his way of water colour painting on paper was so characteristic of him that his paintings were ‘signed all over’. He worked with full, wet washes of great luminosity, often over the simplest of drawings. Occasionally he would cut, or scratch, the paper to reveal highlights (see the image of From Pont Aberglaslyn in which he also used opaque ‘body’ colour). This meant using a thick, rough textured paper – his favourite was supplied by Thomas Creswick – which also added sparkle to his water colours. Occasionally he also worked on scraps that came his way such as the backs of envelopes or prints (see Self Portrait).

His colours were few, no more than ten, one of which was indigo, which has been prone to fading, hence many works are now missing their blue skies and cooler tones. Though thought of primarily as a water colourist, he was also skilled with oils, and may sometimes have worked with these out of doors. A possible example is Lincoln from the South West. DeWint early established his own style and thereafter it changed little, though there was a tendency in the 1840s for him to follow the fashion for more precise detail. He seldom dated his work and so it is difficult to give precise dates for many paintings. After his death a prominent Victorian authority regarded him as ‘The most truly English of our painters’.  

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Last updated: 18 February 2011

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