(click image to enlarge)
While working in Liverpool in 1798, Julius Caesar Ibbetson made his first visits to the Lake District, and was ‘the only painter to show any sustained commitment to the production’ of views of that area before John Constable’s trip there in 1806 (Timothy Wilcox in Stephen Hebron, Conal Shields and Timothy Wilcox, The Solitude of Mountains: Constable and the Lake District, Grasmere: Wordsworth Trust, 2006, page 3). His subjects included Lower Rydal Waterfall (of which there is an oil of 1798 in the collections of the Walker Art Gallery), and waterfalls became frequent as motifs in his work after he settled in the area in 1801. Indeed, he gravitated to falling water on his sketching tours beyond the Lake District, such as those to Scotland and Wales. He also worked up sketches or completed paintings of waterfalls by other artists, notably one of Tivoli by the significant patron and amateur, Sir George Beaumount. And after he moved to Yorkshire in 1806, for the sake of his health, he sustained the subject, as in the 1811 oil, A Waterfall with Bathers (Yale Center for British Art). For Ibbetson, the image of the waterfall could be adapted to fit various categories of contemporary taste, whether represented at a vast scale to suggest the Sublime or in variety of detail to conform to the Picturesque. The present watercolour combines elements of the two.