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Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 594 A cave in the cliff on the beach. Dawlish, Devon.”, 1816
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.4 x 27.3 cm
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 594 / JFW Herschel delin. 1816. / A cave in the cliff on the beach. Dawlish, Devon.” in ink. Inscribed “cave on the main [illegible] / Dawlish. / JFW. 1816” in ink on verso

The ethereal (but still realistic) nature of the strokes and the unconscious extension of the lines past the reference frame are characteristic of productions of a neophyte camera lucida user. It was possible during his stay at Sir William Watson's house in Dawlish in the summer of 1816 that Herschel first took up the camera lucida. Other drawings made during this visit imply that he was experimenting with various optical instruments, probably with his host, who was an accomplished draftsman. In any case, this is the earliest Herschel camera lucida drawing known.

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Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 757 Stone Henge”, 12 August 1865
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
25.2 x 38.5 cm
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “757 / J.F.W. Herschel del Cam. Luc. Aug 12, 1865 / Stone Henge” in ink. Inscribed “Stone Henge / Aug 12, 1865” in pencil on verso

Drawn when the artist was aged 73, half a century after he took up the camera lucida

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Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"Rome from the Pincian Terrace beyond the Villa Medici", 8 August 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
25.2 x 38.7 cm
Signed, titled and annotated “No. 367 / JFW Herschel del.Cam.Luc. August 8, 1824 / Rome from the Pincian Terrace beyond the Villa Medici” in brown ink; “ Egi [?] 13.0 / Rome from the Pincian Terrace beyond Villa de Medici” in pencil. “Rome from the Pincian Terrace beyond Villa Medici / 2140” in pencil on verso.

The great scientist Sir John Herschel proved himself gifted at drawing while still a schoolboy. The camera lucida raised his technical skills to new heights while his artistic talent translated them into beautiful and precise drawings, such as this. Many artists of the time used the camera lucida, none more successfully than Herschel himself.

 

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Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 391 View from below the Temple of Juno, Girgenti Sicily. Temple of Concord in the distance”, 27 June 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.0 x 31.0 cm on 25.1 x 38.4 cm paper
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 391 / JFW Herschel del Cam Luc. June 27, 1824. / View from below the Temple of Juno. Girgenti Sicily. Temple of Concord in the distance” in ink in border, and “Concord / 36. Temple of [crossed out] seen from / [illegible] of Juno Girgenti” in pencil.

Herschel told his mother that he found it "a most curious place & full of ruins the Rocks being all honeycombed with houses &c and the Temples superb. I have crammed my drawing cases with views of them."1 To Sir William Watson, however, he was more philosophical: "the ruins of ancient Agrigentum... stand now far aloof from the modern town wh has retreated from ye pestilential influence of ye air to ye summit of a hill 2 or 3 miles off. It is incredible what an awful air this circumstance gives them. One must be on ye spot to feel its full effect. It seems as if they were preserved as monuments of wrath as if the curse which devastated still clove to them & caused them to be at once admired & shunned. It is indeed the beauty of desolation, for finer architectural remains can hardly be imagined."2 In 1928, Girgenti reverted to its classical name of Agrigentum.

1Letter, Herschel to his mother, from Catania, 1 July 1824. LO517, Herschel collection, the Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
2Letter, Herschel to Watson, from Palermo, 16 July 1824.  LO494. Herschel Collection, the Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

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Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 369 The Coliseum, Rome (with extreme care & precision).", 17 May 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.1 x 30.9 cm on 25.2 x 38.6 cm paper
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 369 / JFW Herschel del. Cam. Luc. May 17, 1824. / The Coliseum, Rome / (with extreme care & precision).” in ink in border. Inscribed “Coliseum” in pencil on verso

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Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 267 Antwerp Cathedral”, 16 October 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
19.4 x 29.3 cm mounted on 24.5 x 38.0 cm paper
Numbered, signed and titled “No 267 / JFW Herschel delin Cam. Luc. / Antwerp Cathedral” in ink in border

This was Herschel's first drawing of the finest Gothic church in Belgium. Started in the fourteenth century, the second 400 foot tower originally planned was never built.

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Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 557 Worcester Cathedral”, 1829
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.2 x 32.2 cm on 24.4 x 38.5 cm paper
Watermark “J Whatman Turkey Mill”. Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 557 / JFW Herschel delin Cam. Luc. / 1829 / Worcester Cathedral” in ink in border. Titled “Worcester” in pencil on verso.

The great scientist Sir John Herschel proved himself gifted at drawing while still a schoolboy. The camera lucida raised his technical skills to new heights while his artistic talent translated them into precise and often beautiful drawings. While many artists of the time used the camera lucida, Herschel used it more successfully than his contemporaries. His camera lucida drawing of Worcester Cathedral is signed, titled, and dated by Herschel in ink. Situated on a bank overlooking the River Severn, Worcester Cathedral was built between 1084 and 1504 and is noteworthy for the many styles of English architecture in which it was constructed.
The overwhelming majority of Herschel's camera lucida drawings are now in public collections; only a few are known to remain in private collections.

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Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 566 Menai Suspension Bridge From the Beach on the Anglesea Side”, 29 September 1827
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
19.9 x 30.9 cm on 24.3 x 37.7 cm paper
Watermark “J Whatman Turkey Mill”. Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 566 / JFW Herschel delin Cam. / Luc. Sep 29, 1827. / Menai Suspension Bridge From the Beach on the Anglesea Side” in ink in border, and “Eye 9 inches = x. / Menai Bridge / Anglesea Side of the Strait / from the North or from the Beaumaris side of / the bridge road” in pencil. Inscribed "Menai Bridge / [illegible] from Anglesea side" in pencil on verso.

Herschel was a man split between two centuries and two ways of life. Escaping the pressures of London, with all the entanglements of organized science, the eighteenth century John Herschel fled to Ireland. However, his nineteenth century side, thrilled by the astounding accomplishments industrialized man was beginning to achieve, could not help but marvel at this colossal structure. In Herschel's influential Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, he held the Menai Bridge up as "one of the most stupendous works of art that has been raised by man in modern ages." It "consists of  a mass of iron, not less than four millions of pounds in weight, suspended at a medium height of about 120 feet above the sea." (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, 1830), p. 60.

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Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 351 Turin with the chain of the Alps. From the roof of the Observatory”, 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.2 x 31.0 cm on 25.2 x 38.6 cm paper
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 351 / JFW Herchel del. Cam. Luc. / 1824 / Turin with the chain of the Alps. From the roof of the Observatory.” in ink in border, and “Coord of / Roche Moulon x = 7.065, y = 3.65 / Dome des Jesuites x = 7.4, y = 2.65 / Clocher des Jesuites x = 7.81, y = 2.95 / Turin from the Observatory” in pencil. Inscribed “Turin from Observatory” in pencil on verso

Herschel, now travelling with just a servant on his second Grand Tour, wrote to his friend Charles Babbage that "the view of the Alps from the observatory Roof at Turin... is the finest thing conceivable we missed this when we were there together... this is the most delicious spot on earth as you would say if you saw it in such weather & were enjoying there the luxury of repose, good feeding, & pleasant society after crossing Mt. Cenis in the snow and being at once scorched & frozen & buried alive." To his mother, he enthused that "the glorious spectacle of the Alps which surround the town like a bulwark of ice at the distance of fifty to a hundred miles... is the finest sight in the world;" he promised that "you shall see a drawing of it I took from the top of the Observatory yesterday."

Inquire
Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 594 A cave in the cliff on the beach. Dawlish, Devon.”, 1816
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.4 x 27.3 cm
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 594 / JFW Herschel delin. 1816. / A cave in the cliff on the beach. Dawlish, Devon.” in ink. Inscribed “cave on the main [illegible] / Dawlish. / JFW. 1816” in ink on verso

The ethereal (but still realistic) nature of the strokes and the unconscious extension of the lines past the reference frame are characteristic of productions of a neophyte camera lucida user. It was possible during his stay at Sir William Watson's house in Dawlish in the summer of 1816 that Herschel first took up the camera lucida. Other drawings made during this visit imply that he was experimenting with various optical instruments, probably with his host, who was an accomplished draftsman. In any case, this is the earliest Herschel camera lucida drawing known.

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 757 Stone Henge”, 12 August 1865
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
25.2 x 38.5 cm
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “757 / J.F.W. Herschel del Cam. Luc. Aug 12, 1865 / Stone Henge” in ink. Inscribed “Stone Henge / Aug 12, 1865” in pencil on verso

Drawn when the artist was aged 73, half a century after he took up the camera lucida

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"Rome from the Pincian Terrace beyond the Villa Medici", 8 August 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
25.2 x 38.7 cm
Signed, titled and annotated “No. 367 / JFW Herschel del.Cam.Luc. August 8, 1824 / Rome from the Pincian Terrace beyond the Villa Medici” in brown ink; “ Egi [?] 13.0 / Rome from the Pincian Terrace beyond Villa de Medici” in pencil. “Rome from the Pincian Terrace beyond Villa Medici / 2140” in pencil on verso.

The great scientist Sir John Herschel proved himself gifted at drawing while still a schoolboy. The camera lucida raised his technical skills to new heights while his artistic talent translated them into beautiful and precise drawings, such as this. Many artists of the time used the camera lucida, none more successfully than Herschel himself.

 

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 391 View from below the Temple of Juno, Girgenti Sicily. Temple of Concord in the distance”, 27 June 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.0 x 31.0 cm on 25.1 x 38.4 cm paper
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 391 / JFW Herschel del Cam Luc. June 27, 1824. / View from below the Temple of Juno. Girgenti Sicily. Temple of Concord in the distance” in ink in border, and “Concord / 36. Temple of [crossed out] seen from / [illegible] of Juno Girgenti” in pencil.

Herschel told his mother that he found it "a most curious place & full of ruins the Rocks being all honeycombed with houses &c and the Temples superb. I have crammed my drawing cases with views of them."1 To Sir William Watson, however, he was more philosophical: "the ruins of ancient Agrigentum... stand now far aloof from the modern town wh has retreated from ye pestilential influence of ye air to ye summit of a hill 2 or 3 miles off. It is incredible what an awful air this circumstance gives them. One must be on ye spot to feel its full effect. It seems as if they were preserved as monuments of wrath as if the curse which devastated still clove to them & caused them to be at once admired & shunned. It is indeed the beauty of desolation, for finer architectural remains can hardly be imagined."2 In 1928, Girgenti reverted to its classical name of Agrigentum.

1Letter, Herschel to his mother, from Catania, 1 July 1824. LO517, Herschel collection, the Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
2Letter, Herschel to Watson, from Palermo, 16 July 1824.  LO494. Herschel Collection, the Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 369 The Coliseum, Rome (with extreme care & precision).", 17 May 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.1 x 30.9 cm on 25.2 x 38.6 cm paper
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 369 / JFW Herschel del. Cam. Luc. May 17, 1824. / The Coliseum, Rome / (with extreme care & precision).” in ink in border. Inscribed “Coliseum” in pencil on verso

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 267 Antwerp Cathedral”, 16 October 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
19.4 x 29.3 cm mounted on 24.5 x 38.0 cm paper
Numbered, signed and titled “No 267 / JFW Herschel delin Cam. Luc. / Antwerp Cathedral” in ink in border

This was Herschel's first drawing of the finest Gothic church in Belgium. Started in the fourteenth century, the second 400 foot tower originally planned was never built.

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 557 Worcester Cathedral”, 1829
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.2 x 32.2 cm on 24.4 x 38.5 cm paper
Watermark “J Whatman Turkey Mill”. Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 557 / JFW Herschel delin Cam. Luc. / 1829 / Worcester Cathedral” in ink in border. Titled “Worcester” in pencil on verso.

The great scientist Sir John Herschel proved himself gifted at drawing while still a schoolboy. The camera lucida raised his technical skills to new heights while his artistic talent translated them into precise and often beautiful drawings. While many artists of the time used the camera lucida, Herschel used it more successfully than his contemporaries. His camera lucida drawing of Worcester Cathedral is signed, titled, and dated by Herschel in ink. Situated on a bank overlooking the River Severn, Worcester Cathedral was built between 1084 and 1504 and is noteworthy for the many styles of English architecture in which it was constructed.
The overwhelming majority of Herschel's camera lucida drawings are now in public collections; only a few are known to remain in private collections.

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 566 Menai Suspension Bridge From the Beach on the Anglesea Side”, 29 September 1827
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
19.9 x 30.9 cm on 24.3 x 37.7 cm paper
Watermark “J Whatman Turkey Mill”. Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 566 / JFW Herschel delin Cam. / Luc. Sep 29, 1827. / Menai Suspension Bridge From the Beach on the Anglesea Side” in ink in border, and “Eye 9 inches = x. / Menai Bridge / Anglesea Side of the Strait / from the North or from the Beaumaris side of / the bridge road” in pencil. Inscribed "Menai Bridge / [illegible] from Anglesea side" in pencil on verso.

Herschel was a man split between two centuries and two ways of life. Escaping the pressures of London, with all the entanglements of organized science, the eighteenth century John Herschel fled to Ireland. However, his nineteenth century side, thrilled by the astounding accomplishments industrialized man was beginning to achieve, could not help but marvel at this colossal structure. In Herschel's influential Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, he held the Menai Bridge up as "one of the most stupendous works of art that has been raised by man in modern ages." It "consists of  a mass of iron, not less than four millions of pounds in weight, suspended at a medium height of about 120 feet above the sea." (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, 1830), p. 60.

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)

Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 351 Turin with the chain of the Alps. From the roof of the Observatory”, 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.2 x 31.0 cm on 25.2 x 38.6 cm paper
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 351 / JFW Herchel del. Cam. Luc. / 1824 / Turin with the chain of the Alps. From the roof of the Observatory.” in ink in border, and “Coord of / Roche Moulon x = 7.065, y = 3.65 / Dome des Jesuites x = 7.4, y = 2.65 / Clocher des Jesuites x = 7.81, y = 2.95 / Turin from the Observatory” in pencil. Inscribed “Turin from Observatory” in pencil on verso

Herschel, now travelling with just a servant on his second Grand Tour, wrote to his friend Charles Babbage that "the view of the Alps from the observatory Roof at Turin... is the finest thing conceivable we missed this when we were there together... this is the most delicious spot on earth as you would say if you saw it in such weather & were enjoying there the luxury of repose, good feeding, & pleasant society after crossing Mt. Cenis in the snow and being at once scorched & frozen & buried alive." To his mother, he enthused that "the glorious spectacle of the Alps which surround the town like a bulwark of ice at the distance of fifty to a hundred miles... is the finest sight in the world;" he promised that "you shall see a drawing of it I took from the top of the Observatory yesterday."

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