Our Valentine’s Day Featured Artwork

A rare opportunity to own an artwork by the artist who taught and worked with John Constable and William Blake.

Our featured artwork this week is by one of the first Royal Academy students, Thomas Stothard. It is perfect as a Valentine’s Gift.

Imagine being one of the very first to be admitted to the Royal Academy, and learning under the President of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds. Walking past Thomas Gainsborough, the most famous artist of the day, in the corridor, having a quick chat with him. Then, of course, the Royal Academy in it’s first few decades, buzzing with life, energy and Georgian idealism.

Thomas Stothard loved being part of the RA. He loved it so much, in fact, it was known that he turned up every day when most other students were taking some time off. In particular, he loved being in Joshua Reynolds studio, watching and learning from the great portraitist.

He continued to enjoy the company of the very greatest of British artists, becoming close friends with William Blake, and John Constable. William Blake and Stothard were very close friends for a long time, and William Blake engraved several of Stothard’s designs. Later in Stothard’s life, he and John Constable were known for their long, amicable walks and painting expeditions in the British countryside, which they both held so dear. Stothard, being the older and more experienced artist, was a mentor and helped develop Constables style. When looking at the sky through the trees, on a scorching hot day, he is thought to have said: “You see Constable, it’s all glazing, all glazing.”  This ability to see the world through the glazing of repeated paint layers was what Stothard saw in the world, and what Constable excelled in through his expert rendering of paint layers.

We know Stothard had many great friends, but what about the man himself? Stothard struggled with poor health and was largely deaf. He was a highly respected artist of his day, and his most famous work Canterbury Pilgrims setting forth from the Tabard Inn is in the Tate Gallery. He is best known for his book illustration and colourist skills, which brightened the lives of so many people before the advent of photography. It’s hard to understand today the enriching role these drawings had in books, however, at the time, it was vital to a good story, and Stothard was one of the most prolific illustrators of his day.

An original Thomas Stothard drawing in the Aidan Meller gallery

We have an astonishing rare original drawing by Thomas Stothard here in the Aidan Meller Gallery. It is of his wife, Rebecca Watkins, to whom he was happily married to. You couldn’t get a better subject. Her gentle, warm demeanour is caught expertly by Stothard, and her relaxed, glowing smile shows a genuine love and affection between the two. Their love was to see them through some very painful times – after this sensitive portrait was done, they were to lose two of their sons prematurely in tragic accidents, one of them a shooting accident at school, and another a climbing accident. Look at the face on this lady in the drawing. See her tenderness and composure. This is an intimate original drawing of his wife – you can’t get closer than this.

Thomas Stothard RA had great inspiration in his life, as well as great tragedy. This gentle, talented man made a fabulous contribution to the daily lives of readers across the country, and through his loyal devotion to the Royal Academy, he helped strengthen it for future generations.

Would you like to own this special drawing? It makes a perfect Valentines Gift and a symbol of your love. Come and see this delightful portrait of his wife, Rebecca, and touch Royal Academy history by taking it home.

Price: £25,000. Call 01865 250550, or click here to book a visit.

Now: Come and see this work as the delicate pencil work cannot be appreciated on a screen. Visit us and view the original work, in Turl Street. A special Valentines moment – book to see this by clicking HERE.


Thomas Stothard - Original drawing

Close up of Thomas Stothard drawing
Thomas Stothard Signature