Curators' Blog

Building blocks

‘Figures in a Garden Viewed Through an Arch’ by Walter Fryer Stocks (1842 – 1915)

During the summer months, most of us like to get out and about – to the beach, to the woods and fields – and some like to retreat to the cool of historic buildings such as castles, churches or even museums. And it’s truly amazing how many types of buildings there actually are!

Horsham Museum has been celebrating all types of buildings in our watercolour gallery. The exhibition focuses on watercolours of buildings with strong architectural features; the artists have to have mastered the technique of drawing perspective, otherwise the building would look as if it would fall down.

Until the late 18th century watercolours, or tinted drawings, were generally used by gardeners or architects to add drama or information to a sketch – it was certainly not intended to portray emotion or experience.  But, as the medium developed and its potential could be seen in portraying the romantic landscape, so buildings were interpreted in similar light to landscape.

We particularly like Figures in a Garden Viewed Through an Arch by artist Walter Fryer Stocks (1842 – 1915). The view is of an artist’s stool, sketch pad left outside the archway as he or she meets others in the distance. If you look at the masonry on the arch you will see at least 10 different colours, each one applied separately. What is particularly interesting about this painting, is that the paper was not quite long enough, so the artist added an inch to the bottom!

This painting was purchased for the Horsham Museum and Art Gallery Watercolour Collection by John and Hilary Steele.