Varley's delightfully fresh watercolor describes a Thameside scene on a sunny summer day. It centers on a large tree with spreading limbs and abundant foliage, a semi-rural riverbank beyond lined with unadorned buildings and a chimneyed brickworks. Rapidly applied washes describe a slatted fence silhouetted against sunlit grass and workers pursuing everyday tasks. Deft strokes evoke rushes, flowers and a drinking cow. For most of his career, the artist devoted himself to idealized compositions demonstrating principles that he promoted as a successful drawing master. At this moment, public interest in Varley's formal exhibition pieces had waned, and he felt free to create a group of brilliant studies in Hammersmith and Chiswick, their washy effects showing appreciation for technical innovations introduced by Peter De Wint, one of his most talented students.
Guy Harvey-Smith; Sotheby's, London, 18 March, 1982, lot 96; Monsieur and Madame Gérald Bauer, sold at the follwoing; Christie's, London, 22 January, 2003, lot 22; Private Collection, bought at the preceding, sold at the following; Christie's, London, 6 December, 2012, lot 242; Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel
Gérald Bauer Le Siècle d'Or de l'Aquarelle Anglaise 1750-1850: guide d'un amateur passionné. Anthèse, 1998, cat. no. 104, p. 86, ill.
William Hauptman L'Âge d'Or de l'Aquarelle Anglaise 1770-1900. Exh. cat. Fondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne, 1999, cat. no. 47, p. 95.
Christie's, London Old Master & Early British Drawings & Watercolours. Sale cat. London, December 6, 2012, lot. 242.