19th century drawing bequeathed
27 May 2011
In 1992 RAMM attempted to purchase at auction an important work by John White Abbott. John White Abbott was an artist of the late 18th and early 19th century with strong connections to Exeter and Devon. The desired work was a drawing called A Man washing his Feet at a Fountain. Unfortunately the museum was not successful, but did manage to secure three other drawings by Abbott: views of Haldon, Dartington and Fordland.
A Man washing his Feet at a Fountain, a copy after a painting at the National Gallery by the French 17th-century artist, Nicolas Poussin, was instead purchased by a private collector. On learning that the Museum had wanted the drawing he agreed to bequeath it to RAMM. Recently the owner died and the drawing arrived at the museum in March 2011.
The drawing joins RAMM’s substantial collection of works by John White Abbott. There are more than 50 but the majority of these are Devon landscapes. This drawing makes a valuable addition to a small group of his copies after the old masters, including Michelangelo and Poussin’s brother-in-law, Gaspard Dughet.
Unlike his friend and tutor, Francis Towne, Abbott did not travel widely outside of Devon. He was born and educated in Exeter and seems to have preferred rural landscape to coastal subjects which he produced in smaller quantity. Although Abbott exhibited successfully at the Royal Academy in London, he never gave up his other profession as a surgeon.
A Man washing his Feet at a Fountain
John White Abbott (1763-1851) after Nicolas Poussin (1593/4 -1665)
Brown ink and grey wash 427 x 700