On the Lyn, North Devon. William Henry Millais, 1828-1899. Watercolour heightened with bodycolour and gum arabic; signed and inscribed 'Lyn. N.D' 19 x 28 inches. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Commentary by the Maas Gallery

The River Lyn in North Devon consists of two channels, the East and West Lyn, that rise on Exmoor and join at Lynmouth. The East Lyn drops through a steep rocky valley or 'cleave' above Lynmouth in an area known as 'Little Switzerland' to the Romantic poets, a dramatic landscape then remote and inaccessible, hidden in ancient oak woodland. It was a favourite haunt of Millais, whose brother John Everett tried to 'bully him into doing nothing all summer but paint in the fields' (a comment by Rossetti in 1849). He was overshadowed by his brother all his life, but he was the first of the Pre-Raphaelite set to apply their principles to landscape. From about 1860, he mostly painted river landscapes in watercolour, and two other highly finished watercolours of the Lyn are dated 1865.

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Last modified 5 September 2014