John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844)
  • Sketchbook of West Country and Midlands Views
Several pencil only, others with pen and grey ink and grey wash
  • cover
  • “Summer of 1801”
  • several in pencil, others in grey ink, and some in dark brown ink throughout
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Museum records


Untraced until given by F. W. Smith in 1957 to the current owner, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter (49.1957.1).

Associated People & Organisations

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, 1957, 49.1957.1
F. W. Smith, 1957
Jane C. Baker, Catalogue of Oil Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Sculpture, Exeter Museums: Exeter, 1978, p.93 (as by John Merivale, father of the artist)


This is a sketchbook of twenty-one views in the West Country and the Midlands made in August and September 1801, when Merivale was in his early twenties. The earliest date is given to a sketch at Castle Cary on 12 August, and Merivale was at Bath four days later. Since he listed a few pictures then at Corsham Court and at Badminton, Merivale probably visited these collections en route to Rodborough, just south of Stroud, where he stayed overnight on 27 August. By 31 August he was at Cheltenham and had reached Stratford on Avon by 3 September. The same day he also sketched Warwick Castle and presumably saw its pictures, too. Merivale drew at Kenilworth, then, moving west, he visited Worcester, before reaching Tintern Abbey on 9 September.

Although the drawings in this sketchbook show a clear debt to Towne’s style, they are generally much looser than in Merivale’s 1810 book. They are of three types. Some are mere pencil outlines intended to provide a basis for further pen and wash; several have been completed with a pen and grey ink line, and grey wash; but others (such as the sketch of Tintern Abbey and Warwick Castle) are fully worked-up and shaded pencil drawings, lacking pen and wash. 

It seems that Merivale inscribed the pages of these books at two different points in his life. The earlier inscriptions are in a neat grey hand and include dates, while the later inscriptions are in a dark brown ink in the same hand seen in Towne’s 1809 sketchbook now at the Fitzwilliam Museum. Perhaps Merivale returned to look through the book some years after 1801, filling in gaps in information; by that point he would not have recalled the precise dates of his visits, which would explain their absence from the dark brown inscriptions. Among the earlier inscriptions are, at the front of the book, a list of pictures seen, or to be seen, at Badminton (by Mattia Preti, Salvator Rosa, and Gaspar Dughet) at Warwick Castle (Salvator Rosa) and at Corsham (Claude Lorrain, Gaspar Dughet, Nicholas Poussin, Titian, and Van Dyck). On the inside cover at the end of the book is a colour note, in the earlier hand: “Kenilworth Dark grey stone / discoloured with yellowish ochrous / moss / especially on the tops of the square tower / Bottom of Sq tower Ivy Stumps --- --- Rest --- red ochre or / B. TS with / Ivy stumps / Red soil about Kenilworth.” 

by Richard Stephens

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