Newsletter Sign up

Works on paper

Image of a manuscript for Instructions for Drawing

Manuscript of Instructions for Drawing

Date: about 1818

Object number: P1001.3

Artist: John Varley

This manuscript accompanies a series of sketches that were made as a teaching tool to assist artists in the skills of landscape painting. Varley published a similar guide in 1818 called The Precepts of Landscape Drawing.

Image of a series of sketches for Instructions for Drawing

Sketches of Instructions for Drawing

Date: about 1818

Object number: P1001.2

Artist: John Varley

This series of sketches accompany a manuscript that were made as a teaching tool to assist artists in the skills of landscape painting. Varley published a similar guide in 1818 called The Precepts of Landscape Drawing.

Image of the drawing Iron Age Piglet

Iron Age Piglet

Date: about 1870

Object number: P1126.6

Artist: Joseph Wolf

Wolf was a German-born artist. He settled in England in 1848 and is described as the most successful natural history painter of his generation. He pursued his art according to the principle that ‘we see distinctly only what we know thoroughly,’ and paired exacting detail with a determination to capture the liveliness of his subjects.

He provided illustrations for many noteworthy organisations including the Zoological Society, skilfully bringing together the best attributes of science and art. Wolf was admired for treating his subjects as individual and distinct, rather than just examples of a species. A large number of his studies are held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Image of the drawing Study after the Aldobrandini Wedding

Study after the Aldobrandini Wedding

Date: 1763

Object number: P441

Artist: Joseph Nollekens

Nollekens went to Rome in 1762, where he studied and worked as an antique dealer and restorer, before returning to London in 1770.

This drawing is a study of an ancient fresco that was discovered in Rome in about 1600. There are a number of theories about the subject of the painting. One suggests that it represents the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the parents of Achilles, the hero of the Trojan War.

Nollekens would have made this close study from the original fresco when it was still in the possession of the Aldobrandini family. It is now in the Vatican Museum’s collection.

Image of the drawing Study after the Aldobrandini Wedding

Study after the Aldobrandini Wedding

Date: about 1790

Object number: P348

Artist: Angelica Kauffman

As a woman, Kauffman was prohibited from drawing nude models. Instead she made studies of figures from paintings and sculpture. It is unclear when she saw the Aldobrandini Wedding, but this ancient Roman fresco, would have offered intriguing possibilities for studying drapery and the human form.

The drawing is made in reverse, indicating that Kauffman may have intended to make it into an engraving.

Kauffman was a Swiss-born painter who is best known for her portraits and historical subjects. She first visited Italy with her father in 1762, and returned to settle in Rome as an established artist some twenty years later. She was one of only two women invited to become Founding Members of the Royal Academy in 1768.

Image of Sketch for a Keystone at Somerset House

Sketch for a Keystone at Somerset House

Date: about 1795

Object number: P439

Artist: Joseph Nollekens

Nollekens designed some of the exterior decorative features for Somerset House in London. This drawing is an initial idea for the keystones that cap the arches near to what is now the entrance to The Courtauld Gallery. He made the sketch on the back of a letter relating to a commission for Lord Newborough.

The Courtauld Gallery moved to Somerset House in 1989. The building formerly housed the Royal Academy of Arts, where in 1772 Nollekens became a Royal Academician.

Image of Sketches on a Letter

Sketches on a Letter

Date: about 1828

Object number: P1241.1

Artist: George Cruikshank

Nicknamed the ‘modern Hogarth’, Cruikshank was a popular Victorian caricaturist and book illustrator. This drawing is a collection of quick spur of the moment sketches made on the back of a letter dated 1828.

Cruikshank was best known for his satirical interpretations of modern life, often reflecting on the politics of the day. He was a good friend of Charles Dickens and illustrated several of his books, including Oliver Twist.

Image of the drawing Study of a Male Head

Study of a Male Head

Date: about 1890

Object number: P1584

Artist: William Edward Stott

This study captures a number of poses on a single sheet of paper. Stott was trying out different positions and experimenting with the effects of line, tone and colour. It could be an exercise in life drawing or an initial idea for a painting.

Stott was born in Rochdale, and was known by his middle name Edward to avoid confusion with the artist William Stott of Oldham.

Image of the painting Signor Simone del Signore Alfonso Tucci

Presumed Portrait of Simone di Alfonso Tucci

Date: 1662

Object number: P743

Artist: Filippo Baldinucci

Baldinucci drew mostly portraits of his friends, all in roughly the same format. He combined delicate lines with subtle additions of red chalk to capture their likeness and showcase his draughtsmanship. This drawing, with its high degree of finish, was almost certainly intended as a presentation piece or a gift.

Baldinucci was an important artistic figure in 17th century Florence. He was employed as curator of the Medici family art collection, and published several books focussing on artists’ biographies.

Image of the drawing Design for Cupola of St Paul's Cathedral

Design for the Cupola of St Paul’s Cathedral

Date: before 1715

Object number: P588

Artist: Sir James Thornhill

Thornhill worked in the Italian Baroque tradition, a highly ornate style rooted in Catholic church architecture. Full of grandeur and dramatic realism, it was designed to inspire awe and emotion.

Image of the drawing Four Designs Illustrating the Life of St Paul

Four Designs Illustrating the Life of St Paul

Date: before 1715

Object number: P591

Artist: Sir James Thornhill

In 1715 Thornhill was awarded the commission to paint the life of the apostle Paul at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. These designs appear to be early explorations, the beginnings of what eventually became eight painted murals on the interior of the cathedral’s dome.

Image of the drawing Simon Fraser Lord Lovat

Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat

Date: 1746

Object number: P985

Artist: William Hogarth

Hogarth is best known for his satirical and moralising paintings and engravings. His observations of Georgian society were often witty and brutally honest. They were hugely popular and widely reproduced as prints.

Hogarth visited Lord Lovat when he was waiting to go on trial for high treason. This silhouetted drawing is most likely a preparatory sketch for the print on display to the right. The drawing was made in reverse. After etching and printing, the final image would appear as Hogarth intended.

Lord Lovat was known as ‘the most devious man in Scotland’ and nicknamed ‘the Fox’. Guided solely by self-interest, he switched his support back and forth during the Jacobite Risings. He was eventually found out in 1746 and executed the following year at Tower Hill for high treason.

Image of the drawing Monument of Mrs Howard

Monument of Mrs Howard

Date: about 1790

Object number: P442

Artist: Joseph Nollekens

Nollekens is one of Britain’s most celebrated sculptors. In the late 18th century his work was highly sought after by aristocratic patrons, who commissioned him to make portrait sculptures and memorials.

This is a drawing of what is considered to be his best work. Known as Faith, it is a memorial to Maria, who was the first wife of Henry Howard of Corby Castle, near Carlisle. They married in 1788.  Maria died just a year later in childbirth, aged 23.

The memorial cost £1,500. It was installed near the castle, in Holy Trinity Church in 1803. The scene shows the dying mother with her dead infant daughter. She is supported by an angelic figure who represents her Christian faith.

Image of the drawing Destruction of the Pharaohs Host

Destruction of the Pharaoh’s Host

Date: 1824

Object number: P745

Artist: John Martin

Martin is best known for his vast apocalyptic landscapes full of drama and spectacle. The subject depicted is the biblical story of Moses releasing the waters of the Red Sea, drowning the Egyptian army after allowing the fleeing Israelites to cross.

Despite the small scale of the drawing, the artist’s skilful penmanship brilliantly conveys the energy and epic scale of the unfolding drama.

The Harris has a painting that takes the same Bible story as its subject. You can see it on display at the top of the staircase in our virtual tour. It is by Francis Danby, who was a contemporary of Martin. Painted in 1825, The Delivery of Israel out of Egypt depicts Moses parting the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to cross.

Image of the drawing David With the Head of Goliath

David With the Head of Goliath

Date: about 1620

Object number: P226

Artist: Guido Reni

Reni was a prominent artist of the Bolognese school in Italy, who later became one of the most important painters working in Rome.

This sketch illustrates a scene from the biblical story of David and Goliath. The young shepherd boy David stands next to the severed head of the giant Goliath, after killing him with a single shot from his slingshot.

Image of the drawing Architectural Fantasy

Architectural Fantasy

Date: about 1740

Object number: P984

Artist: School of Giuseppe Galli Bibiena

The Galli Bibiena family were Italian architects and scenic artists. They worked throughout Europe during the late 17th and 18th centuries creating elaborate sets for theatres and events hosted by wealthy patrons.

Because their work was mostly created as temporary decoration, little of it has survived. This complex and beautifully detailed drawing offers a rare glimpse into the splendour and richness of the imaginary worlds created by this family of artists and decorators.

Image of the drawing Man With Two Dead Women

Man with Two Dead Women

Date: about 1772

Object number: P246

Artist: Henry Fuseli

Fuseli was a Swiss painter who lived and worked primarily in Britain. Many of his works deal with supernatural subjects and nightmares. His style influenced many younger artists, including William Blake, whose work is displayed on the right.

This drawing is of a particularly dark subject. It shows a seated man with the limp body of a dead woman draped across his knee. The emphasis on musculature and the unnatural position of the dead woman at his feet adds to the drama of the scene.

The dark wash in the background is a technique often used by Fuseli. It pushes the figures towards the viewer, adding to the sinister atmosphere of the work.

Image of the drawing Visionary Heads

Visionary Heads

Date: 1820

Object number: P44

Artist: William Blake

Blake visited his friend John Varley, a landscape painter, over several nights in 1819. Here, from nine in the evening until the early hours, Blake is said to have sketched visions that appeared before him.

His drawings included long-dead historical figures such as Robert the Bruce and Alexander
the Great and characters of myth and legend including Merlin and Robin Hood. Blake continued to make these visionary drawings over a number of years. Most were gathered together in sketchbooks with inscriptions written by Varley.

The Visionary Heads in this drawing are Greek historical figures – Pindar the poet and Lais, a beautiful courtesan. The fine, delicate lines give the drawings a dream-like quality, the figures appear to hover on the page as if in a trance.

Image of the watercolour Malta RAF Bomb Dump

Malta, RAF Bomb Dump

Date: 1943

Object number: P1114

Artist: Leslie Cole

The Siege of Malta was a military campaign to maintain control of the island, which was an important British colony and trade route to North Africa, India, and the Far East.

Malta was one of the most heavily bombed places during the Second World War. The RAF and Royal Navy fought against German and Italian forces who attacked the island’s ports, towns and supply ships.

Cole arrived in Malta in May 1943. He observed the end of the siege, and recorded military sites like this bomb store. He also made paintings depicting the hardship and cruel conditions endured by Malta’s civilian population.

Image of the watercolour Church of St Pierre

Church of St. Pierre, Boulogne

Date: 1944

Object number: P1112

Artist: Thomas Hennell

In June 1944, Hennell was sent to Portsmouth to record preparations for D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy. Soon after, he was across the English Channel making watercolour sketches of troops on the Normandy beaches.

The coastal town of Boulogne was badly bombed by the RAF during the invasion. In August, Hitler declared the town a “fortress”, but in September the town was liberated by the Canadian Army. This painting of the town’s church in ruins is a poignant reminder of the suffering and destruction endured by so many during the Second World War.

Hennell was sent to record the war effort in India and Burma (now Myanmar). He survived the war but disappeared in Java in 1945. Reports suggest that he was captured and killed during the Indonesian War of Independence, but this was never confirmed.

Image of the pastel Lieutenant E R W Daish

Lieutenant (E) R W Daish RNR Chief Engineer

Date: 1941

Object number: P1110

Artist: William Dring

This is a portrait of Ralph William Daish, the Chief Engineer of HMS Lorna Doone. A paddle steamer requisitioned by the Admiralty as a minesweeper in 1939. The Admiralty was the government department responsible for the command of the Royal Navy.

Dring was born in Streatham, London. He graduated at the Slade School of Art, before teaching drawing at Southampton School of Art. Dring was appointed as an official War Artist to the Admiralty in 1942.

He travelled widely across Britain, making portraits of Naval officers. Working in soft pastel allowed Dring to get colour and detail onto the paper quickly. He took no longer than an hour to finish each portrait.

Image of the painting Marlag 'O' in Winter

Marlag ‘O’ in Winter

Date: 1945

Object number: P1353

Artist: John Worsley

At the start of the Second World War, Worsley joined the Royal Navy. His drawings of life at sea caught the attention of the War Artists’ Advisory Committee, and he was appointed as a full-time war artist.

In 1943 Worsley was captured by the Germans and detained at Marlag ‘O’, a prisoner-of-war camp. He continued to paint at the camp, documenting prison life using materials provided by the Red Cross. These parcels contained food and other supplies, reminding the men that they had not been forgotten. The tin cans were re-used for a variety of purposes, in Worsley’s case to safely carry his pictures to freedom in April 1945.

His skills as an artist were employed to forge identity papers. He also made a life-sized mannequin called Albert during an ingenious escape attempt, which in 1953 was made into a film, Albert R.N.

Adam and eve (male and female character) looking at each other, stood surrounded by trees.

Adam and Eve (the fall of Man)

Date: Unknown

Object number: PR275

Artist: Albrecht Durer Engraver. Johannes Ladenspelder

The print collection represents artists working from the 16th century to the present day. It includes Old Master prints, engraved portraits, Victorian etchings and engravings, and modern prints including screen prints and lithographs.

Roman scene with lady fainting with her lady's in waiting tending to her. Roman soldiers also watching as this happens.

Andromache Fainting at the Unexpected Sight of Aeneas on his Arrival at Epirus

Date: 1775

Object number: P347

Artist: Angelica Kauffmann, 1741-1807

This drawing by Angelica Kauffman is a study for a painting commissioned by the Earl of Derby for his London home in 1775. Based on a story in the Aeneid, an epic poem written by Virgil between 29 and 19BC about the Trojan Wars, the scene depicts Andromache who has been invoking the spirit of her husband Hector. Aeneas, who she believes might be a messenger from the dead, appears and confirms that Hector has been killed and Andromache collapses in grief.

Huge castle in background with river next to it. Cattle grazing near river.

Kidwelly Castle, South Wales

Date: 1835

Artist: JMW Turner, 1775-1851

The Harris’ collection of watercolours includes paintings by JMW Turner, David Cox, Arthur Rackham, Helen Allingham, and Laura Knight.

Kidwelly Castle has occupied its commanding position above the River Gwendreath in South Wales since the 12th century. Turner visited Kidwelly during his 1795 tour of Wales and returned to the subject in 1835 for a series of Picturesque Views in England and Wales. In this atmospheric painting the gatehouse glows in bright sunlight while the rest of the castle emerges from a swirling river mist.

Rolling fields as far as the eye can see

Channel and Breakwater

Date: 1923

Artist: Paul Nash

The Harris has a small but notable collection of Modern British art, including paintings by Walter Sickert, Stanley Spencer, Matthew Smith, Ivon Hitchens, David Bomberg, and Lucian Freud.

After serving in the First World War, Nash suffered a breakdown and was diagnosed with ‘war strain’. To recuperate, he and his wife rented a cottage at Dymchurch on the Kent coast.

His experiences during the war led him to consider the coast line as a conflict between the sea and land. The geometric lines reflect Nash’s early experiments with abstraction, and suggest a coordinated battle between the sea and the man-made defenses built to protect the land from invasion.

Black silhouettes of leaves on a white background.


Date: 2012

Object number: 2018.17.1

Artist: Rebecca Chesney

In 2018 Rebecca was invited to spend time in the Harris Museum archive to discover any objects in the collection connected to the theme of dandelions. The exhibition comprised objects from the artist’s Dandelion Archive and items from the Harris collection they were placed in sixteen different locations within the museum’s displays and galleries for visitors to find.

Although seen by many as a weed, dandelions are a symbol of hope in folklore, and have fond associations with traditions like making wishes and telling the time.

The Dandelion Archive is an ongoing project where the artist explores the dandelion’s symbolism, and how it is represented in cultural collections of prints, textiles and ceramics.