and painting. His bent was landscape. This gave my father great pleasure, as it was his own favourite branch of art. The boy acquired great skill in sketching trees, clouds, plants, and foregrounds. He studied with wonderful assiduity and success. I possess many of his graphic memoranda, which show the care and industry with which he educated his eye and hand in rendering with truth and fidelity the intimate details of his art. The wild plants which he introduced into the foregrounds of his pictures were his favourite objects of study. But of all portions of landscape nature, the Sky was the one that most delighted him. He studied the form and character of clouds -- resting cloud, the driving cloud, and the rain cloud -- and the sky portions of his paintings were thus rendered so beautifully attractive.

He was so earnest in his devotion to the study of landscape that in some respects he neglected the ordinary routine of school education. He successfully accomplished the three R.'s, but after that his school was the fields, in the face of Nature. He was by no means a Romantic painter. His taste was essentially for Home subjects. In his landscapes he introduced picturesque farm-houses and cottages, with their rural surroundings; and his advancement and success were commensurate with his devotion to this fine branch of art. The perfect truth with which he represented English scenery, associated as it is with so many home-loving feelings, forms the special attractiveness of his works. This has caused them to be eagerly sought after, and purchased at high prices.

Patrick had a keen sense of humour, though in other respects he was simple and unpretending. He was a great reader of old-fashioned novels, which indeed in those days were the only works of the kind to be met with. The, Arabian Nights, Robinson crusoe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and such like, were his favourites, and gave a healthy filip to his imagination. He had also a keen relish for music, and used to whistle melodies and overtures as he went along with his work. He acquired a fair skill in violin playing. While tired with sitting or standing he would take up his violin, play a few passages, and then go to work again.

Patrick removed to London in 1808, and exhibited at the Royal Academy in the following year. He made excursions to various parts of England, where he found subjects congenial to his ideas of rural beauty. The immediate neighbourhood of London, however, a bounded with the most charming and appropriate subjects for his pencil. These consisted of rural "bits" of the most picturesque but homely description -- decayed pollard trees and old moss-grown orchards, combined with cottages and farm-houses in the most paintable state of decay, with tangled hedges and neglected fences, overrun with vegetation clinging to them with all "the careless grace of Nature." However neglected these might be by the farmer, they were always tit-bits for Patrick. When sketching such subjects he was in his glory, and he returned to his easel loaded with sketch-book treasures, which when painted form the gems of many a collection.

In some of these charming subjects glimpses of the distant capital may be observed, with the dome of St. Paul's in the distance; but they are introduced with such skill and correctness as in no way to interfere with the rural character of his subject. When he went farther afield -- to Windsor Forest, Hampshire, the New Forest, or the Isle of Wight -- he was equally diligent with his pencil, and came home laden with sketches of the old monarchs of the forest. When in a state of partial decay his skilful touch brought them to life again, laden with branches and lichen, with leaves and twigs and bark, and with every feature that gives such a charm to these important elements in true English landscape scenery. On my brother's first visit to London, accompanied by my father, he visited many collections where the old Dutch masters were to be seen, and he doubtless derived much advantage from his careful studies, more particularly from the works of Hobbema, Ruysdael, and Wynants. These came home to him as representations of Nature as she is. They were more free from the traditional modes of representing her. The works of Claude Lorraine and Richard Wilson were also the objects of his admiration, though the influence of the time for classicality of treatment to a certain extent vitiated these noble works. When a glorious sunset was observed, the usual expression among the lovers of art was, "What a magnificent Claudish effect!" thus setting up the result of man's feeble attempt at representation as the standard of comparison, in place of the far grander original!

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.