In our previous posts detailing the history of the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, we referred to some of the founder members of these Societies and in our next few articles, we will provide further background to some of these artists.
First up is Peter De Wint who is probably one of the most important figures in the history of the watercolour medium. His work today is still represented in major public and private collections throughout the world and is one of the most popular and sought after of all the British Romantic watercolourists.
De Wint was born on 21 January 1784 in Stone, Staffordshire and was the son of an English physician of Dutch extraction. In 1802 he was apprenticed to the engraver and portrait painter, John Raphael Smith and in 1806 in visited Lincoln for the first time where he met his future wife, Harriet Hilton as well as John Varley, the celebrated teacher and Dr Thomas Monro, who ran an informal academy for young artists. Both Varley and Munro were major influences on the development of De Wint’s style.
De Wint first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1807, and in 1809 he entered the Royal Academy schools. He was elected an Associate of the Old Watercolour Society in 1810 and was made a full member the following year. By that time, he had also built a very successful practice as a teacher and each summer would be spent teaching at the home of one of his patrons.
He frequently visited his wife’s home city of Lincoln, and many of his panoramic landscapes and haymaking scenes are set in Lincolnshire. He occasionally toured in Wales, and in 1828 travelled to Normandy.
He died in London on 30 January 1849.
De Wint’s life was devoted to art and he is quoted by his wife as often saying ” I do so love painting. I am never so happy as when looking at nature. Mine is a beautiful profession.”