Ibbetson travelled extensively throughout his career, not only around Britain but also to the East Indies. In 1777 he moved to London, where he lived intermittently for the next twenty years. Initially he worked as a scene-painter and picture restorer, however keen to establish himself as an artist of note, he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy from 1785. In 1787-8 he was employed as the draughtsman on the first British Mission to Beijing and following his return, he was able to abandon his earlier career to concentrate on producing landscapes, genre scenes and portraits.
Ibbetson was drawn to the topography of London and its surrounding villages, such as Kilburn, Blackheath and Greenwich, as well as by the diversity of contemporary London life, which at this time was unlike anywhere else in the country. Not only did he record daily life, such as in the present drawings, depicting people enjoying the countryside above Greenwich, with views over London, but also more unusual events such as the Ascent of Lunardi’s Balloon from St George’s Fields (Museum of London).
An accomplished figure draughtsman and keen observer of life. The sinuous use of line, especially in the foliage, is reminiscent of Thomas Gainsborough whose work he would have been familiar with. Both artists were interested in Dutch 17th Century painters.