Spot The Difference

Buxton Museum’s recent purchase of the John Webber and William Day watercolours of Castleton has got us thinking.  These two watercolours were drawn on the same day in 1789 and both show the same view but from slightly different angles.  We have been playing spot the difference with them and this inspired us to put then up alongside other pictures showing similar views from different angles.

 These pictures are on display on our newly repainted landing at Buxton Museum, and include 5 pictures that we have bought as part of the Enlightenment! project.

 These images should give you a flavour – please excuse the poor photography!


John Webber’s 1789 Castleton watercolour on the left and William Day’s watercolour on the right.

John Bluck’s 1805 print of Matlock Bath on the left, and William Marlow’s 1780 oil of the same view.

A lithograph of Buxton Crescent on the left and William Cowen’s 1850 watercolour on the right.

Godfrey Sykes’ 1850 oil of Buxton Market Place on the left and an unknown artist’s oil on the right.

2 Responses to Spot The Difference

  1. Notwithstanding the fact that they are pieces of art and thus the subject of artistic interpretation, quite often plate illustrations were sketched up without the artist having ever visited the location. People simply didn’t travel as much as they do now so primary research was thin on the ground. Illustrations were often assembled from other sketches and snippets of information or even deliberately plagiarised, so it’s not really too suprising to find significant differences and howling mistakes in older works like this.

  2. Hello Chris,

    Good point about artists sometimes never visiting the location. I read an interesting article on the Austenonly blog about Jane Austen whose characters in Pride and Prejudice talk about Dovedale, despite Austen herself never stepping foot in the place. She knew all about the valley through reading William Gilpin’s Observations on the Mountains and Lakes of Cumberland and Westmoreland etc (1786). So as you say, primary research was thin on the ground!

    I also like the amount of artistic license which was used in some of the pictures……


    You can read the Austenonly Dovedale post here (I’d recommend it)-

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