a unique series of images of watercolours, drawings, sketches,
lithographs commissioned and collected by William Salt, a London
banker whose family came from Staffordshire. The views include
churches, public buildings, country houses and landscape from
all over Staffordshire. Many date from the 1830s and 1840s
when Salt commissioned many of the drawings, but there are
also earlier engravings and drawings collected by Salt. They
form part of the core collection of the William Salt Library,
Stafford. In all there are some 3,200 views.
Salt used a number of artists but had some favourites, such
as Thomas Peploe Wood and John Buckler.
T.P. Wood was a local artist, born at Little
Haywood in Staffordshire in 1817. He died in 1845 at a relatively
young age. He was however
a prolific artist, travelling on foot around the county to carry
out his work. The quality of his work is superb. His biographer
C.S. Meacham referred to his style as: “combining in his
realistic and masterly cattle painting, exquisite English landscape
and glorious composition, a manner and style that have never
been approached by any English painter”.
John Buckler (1770-1851) was born in the Isle of Wight. Originally
an architect, he became well known as a topographical artist.
Salt commissioned him to survey the buildings of Staffordshire
through his drawings. He did this very systematically to the
extent of sometimes producing up to four or five drawings of
John Buckler’s two sons, John Chessall
Buckler and George Buckler, also produced drawings for William
Salt and there is
much similarity between the work of all three Bucklers. John
Chessall, like his father, was particularly interested in architecture
and the restoration of buildings. Many of his watercolours were
exhibited at the Royal Academy.
The collection also contains views by a number
of other artists, some commissioned by Salt but others collected
by him. One of
the most prolific of these artists was Stebbing Shaw, the Staffordshire
antiquary (1762-1802) There are 106 Shaw drawings. The drawings
are not particularly good but some of them have been redeemed
by his engravers, notably T Donaldson, who considerably improved
the quality of Shaw’s drawing, without changing the content.
The 50 coloured views in the collection by Lewis
John Wood (died
1901) are of excellent quality. These are principally of churches
in the north of the county and there are 51 in total. Many are
unsigned and undated but can be attributed to Wood and date mainly
from the years, 1835-40. Among these is a view of the old church
at Cheadle, which was replaced in 1837. Wood first exhibited
at the Royal Academy in 1831 and was to continue to exhibit throughout
a long life.
The work of two drawing masters at Wolverhampton
Grammar school, Richard Paddey (died 1821) and Robert
is also represented.
Paddey’s work dates from the end of the 18th century. Noyes
was particularly well known as a local artist in Wolverhampton
and many of his views are of the town itself and villages in
South Staffordshire. One of the most striking is his view of
Wolverhampton Racecourse in 1825-26.
There are many examples of the drawings by members of the Fernyhough
family, whom Salt employed as transcribers and copiers as well
as artists. The largest number of drawings by any one member
of the family is about 70 views by John Robert Fernyhough, (born
1808), mainly watercolours with pen and ink outlines, dating
from about 1835-36.
The brothers, Henry Curzon Allport (1788-1855) and John
Allport (1799-1854) of Aldridge, together with their half sister, Sarah
Clifford Allport, contributed about 70 drawings, mainly landscape
views, around Lichfield, Tamworth and Burton.
Other artists represented in the collection include: S
who produced some views of castles in 1777; W Carter, whose work
was completed probably in the first two decades of the 19th century
and some of which is engraved; and AE Everitt, a Birmingham artist,
whose work concentrates on Lichfield and the south-east of the
Salt also collected earlier prints and engravings.
These include the 26 views of major houses and buildings in
drawn and engraved by M Burghers, a Dutch artist, for Robert
Plot’s Natural History of Staffordshire, 1686. There are
also some views by S & N Buck, dating from the 1730s.