The North Terrace at Windsor Castle was the most popular of Paul Sandby's subjects, particularly the view looking west: versions exist in oils, bodycolour, watercolour, pencil and aquatint, ranging in date from an exhibit at the Society of Artists in 1766 by way of the aquatints of 1776 to signed and dated bodycolours of 1800 and 1803 (the fullest listing is in R. Dorment, British Painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1986, pp. 357-62, under no. 100, the oil and several other versions illustrated; see also A.P. Opp, The Drawings of Paul and Thomas Sandby in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, London, 1947, pp. 19-22, nos. 1-10, some illustrated, and J. Roberts, Views of Windsor: Watercolours by Thomas and Paul Sandby from the Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, London, 1995, pp. 64-7, six versions illustrated).
The view looking west was often paired with that looking east, as at the Royal Academy in 1774 and the aquatints of 1776 (illustrated Dorment, loc.cit., figs. 100-1 and 100-2); there is a pair of circa 1765-70, one perhaps the work exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1766, in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (illustrated Roberts, op.cit., pls. 17.2 and 17.3), while a further example is the pair, possibly those exhibited in 1774, in the Buccleuch Collection, Drumlanrig Castle. The North Terrace was also depicted in a set of three works, showing Morning, Afternoon and Sunset (see L. Herrmann, Paul and Thomas Sandby, London, 1986, p. 89, under no. 10, the example in the Victoria and Albert Museum, showing Sunset, illustrated). The present example, relatively unknown up until now, is a fascinating addition to this group of works.
The North Terrace was originally laid out under Henry VIII in 1533-5 and repaired and enlarged under Elizabeth I and Charles I. By the 18th Century, it extended 1,870 feet and was open to the public, being particularly popular during the years 1776-89 when George III used Windsor as his summer residence. During Sir Jeffry Wyatville's remodelling of the Castle in the 1820s the round-topped turret of the Queen Elizabeth Gallery shown in the present watercolour was medievalised. In the distance is the Winchester Tower, and a crenellated turret flanks one of the two archways on the extreme left.
Sandby's views of the North Terrace looking west follow three main patterns. That with the most restricted view of the buildings, taken from further to the west, shows the square tower to the east of the rounded turret at the extreme left-hand side, trimmed by the edge of the composition. There are examples in the Royal Collection (RL 14524; illustrated in colour, Roberts, op.cit., p. 65, no. 16) and another in the collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (Roberts, p. 64, fig. 16.2). The second type is taken from further east where the terrace widens out, and shows part, but not all, of the crenellated turret on the extreme left; the top of this turret is cut by the edge of the composition. This version of the composition is represented by the aquatint of 1776 (illustrated Roberts, p. 23, fig. 11, and, in the outline etched state, Herrmann, op.cit., p 93, no. 14) and by another watercolour in the Royal Collection (RL 14525; illustrated in colour, Roberts, pp. 66-7, no. 17, together with the Yale version, possibly that exhibited in 1766, as fig. 17.2); there is a further version in bodycolour, signed and dated 1800, in the Victoria and Albert Museum (illustrated Herrmann, p. 123, no. 34).
The present drawing is an example of the third, fullest pattern, showing the crenellated turret on the left to its full height, as in the version in bodycolour at the Victoria and Albert Museum, fig. 1 (see Herrmann, p.89, no. 10, illustrated). It is similar in size and depth of colour to our example, and also shows the same particular interest in the sky and the effect of sunlight shining in through clouds. It is therefore tempting to identify our bodycolour with the third of the three works showing the times of day: that in the Victoria and Albert Museum represents Sunset, ours Afternoon, while the view from the east belonging to the National Trust, Anglesey Abbey depicts Dawn (bodycolour, 18 x 23.7/8 in.; see Dorment, op.cit., p. 161, version no. 6). Herrmann (op.cit., p. 89) suggests that the provenance of all three companion works is Mrs. Norman (in 1843) and Miss Georgiana Angerstein of Holbrook House, Wincanton, Somerset.
COMPARATIVE ILLUSTRATION CAPTION:
Fig. 1, Paul Sandby, Windsor Castle: The North Terrace looking west, at sunset.
Bodycolour on paper laid on panel, 18 x 24.1/3 in. (46.4 x 61.5 cm.).
Courtesy of the Trustees of the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the V & A Picture Library.