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Couple and Casualty

1820-1825 (probably)
Origin: America, Connecticut
Primary support: 7 1/4" x 12" and Framed: 9" x 13 5/8" x 1"
Watercolor and ink on laid paper
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958.301.1
A depiction of a stumbling horse, his rider being thrown over his head, on the left. On the right, a soldier holds a bayont over his shoulder and stands facing away from the accident. His proper left arm encircles a woman who raises a hand to her face in apparent alarm and holds aloft the hem of her skirt in the other hand. A rolling horizon line and low shrubbery, with a small tree at far right, complete the scene.
The 1-inch molded silver-leafed frame is a period replacement.
Label:Pinney may have originated the idea of placing the tumbling horseman on the left and the couple on the right together in one composition, yet it is apparent that the accident portion derives from a print, and it is likely that the couple was copied from such a source, although probably a separate one, as well [note 1].
In 1781 in London, Watson and Dickinson published Henry Bunbury's engraving called "Symptoms of Tumbling," which was number four in a series of "Hints to Bad Horsemen" [note 2]. Presumably shortly after that, the falling horse and rider illustrated therein were included, reversed, in the decoration of a copperplate printed English cotton. Pinney's corresponding horse and rider face the direction of the textile print, and although she may have used some other, unidentified reversal of the original Bunbury engraving, several remnants of the printed textile survive in America, indicating sizable importation of it and lending credibility to the possibility that Pinney used it as the inspiration for her watercolor [note 3].
The compositional source for Pinney's couple remains unidentified, but the soldier bears some resemblance to one that appears elsewhere in the same copperplate-printed textile and that is also based on a Bunbury figure [note 4]. Further suggesting a print source is the fact that an unlocated Pinney watercolor shows a standing man and woman in positions quite similar to those seen here [noe 5]. The top hat also appears in both renderings. However, it clearly belongs to the unseated rider in "Couple and Casualty" and, equally clearly, to the standing many -- who is bareheaded -- in the unlocated piece. Ironically, it is identically juxtaposed to the couple in both scenes. But the missing composition lacks a "casualty" portion and has a more elevated horizon line, making the hat appear to rest on the ground.
Provenance:J. Stuart Halladay and Herrel George Thomas, Sheffield, Mass. Halladay died in 1951, leaving his interest in their jointly-owned collection to his partner, Thomas. Thomas died in 1957, leaving his estate to his sister, Mrs. Albert N. Petterson, who was AARFAM's vendor.