Take a look at some of the finest 18th-century watercolours of Windsor Castle...
A Royal home and fortress for over 900 years, Windsor castle is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world. Now with 20 extraordinary eighteenth century watercolours by the great 18th century watercolourists Paul and Thomas Sandby going on display, the captivating history of one of the world’s greatest and most iconic landmarks is being brought to life. Created from the 1760s to the 1790s, the spectacular paintings provide a fascinating insight into life at Windsor during the reign of George III, who used the Castle as an occasional country retreat for his growing family. Many of the works incorporate scenes of everyday life, from soldiers chatting idly with the townsfolk and street traders hawking their wares, to elegantly dressed visitors strolling on the North Terrace, from where they could admire the views across the Thames Valley. The drawings will be displayed alongside a number of early guidebooks, showing what visitors to Windsor would have experienced 250 years ago.
Capturing the Castle: Watercolours of Windsor by Paul and Thomas Sandby runs at the Drawings Gallery, Windsor Castle, from 7 February until 5 May 2014.
Photograph: Exterior of Windsor Castle by Peter Packer.
This stunning painting shows Henry VIII Gateway from Castle Hill, with houses to the left and the Salisbury Tower behind. In the foreground, a group of three gentlemen are standing on the corner and conversing. Behind, a beggar boy is playing with a dog, and on the right, a man is unloading a barrel from a laden horse and cart. Inscribed on the back of the mount in pencil, possibly in the artist’s hand, 'Windsor. View of the Town Gate'. The Henry VIII Gateway was reconstructed under Henry VIII in around 1511. In 1840, the Salisbury Tower behind was refaced by Edward Blore, and an additional storey added in place of the pitched roof. The houses at the centre of the drawing were demolished in about 1850 during a town improvement scheme.
Photograph: The Henry VIII Gateway from Castle Hill, c.1760. Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty The Queen 2013.
Here the brothers have captured the Norman Gateway, as seen from the Moat Garden. At the centre sits a pedimented facade with sash windows, and in the foreground, a boy is watering a circular bed at the centre of the garden, watched by a dog. The dry ditch surrounding the Round Tower is well sheltered and the northern area has long been used as a flower garden. The southern ditch was formerly used for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, but in 1836, Sir Jeffrey Wyatville refused to be held responsible if this caused the collapse of the Round Tower and its boundary wall. The apartment seen at the back of the garden with the mid-18th century pedimented facade was the Home of the Deputy Governor and then Castle Housekeeper.
Photograph: The Norman Gateway and Moat Garden, Windsor Castle, c.1770. Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty The Queen 2013.
Here we can see the Quadrangle in the Upper Ward from the east, looking towards the Round Tower. In the centre is a statue of Charles II on a plinth. In the centre foreground, a group of figures and a man on a horse. At this date the Royal Family didn’t inhabit the apartments in the Quadrangle and it was open to the public. During the alterations of Sir Jeffry Wyatville in 1827, the windows were gothicised; the Rubbish Gate just visible on the far left was closed and the George IV Gate was opened. The statue of Charles II was rotated and reinstalled at the west end of the Quadrangle, facing east, and the Round Tower was raised by Wyatville in about 1830.
Photograph: The Quadrangle, Windsor Castle, looking west, c.1765. Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty The Queen 2013.
Again, we can see the Henry VIII Gateway, but this time looking into the Castle from the gate towards the west end of St George’s Chapel and the Horseshoe Cloister. Several groups of figures are standing in the gateway. A woman with a water cart and two small mules is led by a man carrying a bucket; two soldiers are on duty near their guardbox on the left, one leaning on the wall next to a small boy with a jug and a dog or goat. On the right, a chimney sweep is standing with a small boy, with two well-dressed ladies behind, and to the right of them a knife-grinder is working at his stall. In the background, through the gateway, an elegant carriage has just entered the Castle. The costume of the two elegant ladies under the gateway suggests a date of about 1775, or later.
Photograph: Windsor Castle: Henry VIII Gateway, c.1780. Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty The Queen 2013.
In a yellow, black and grey wash-line bordered mount - of a type associated with works from the collection of Sir Joseph Banks – we can see a gorgeous view of Windsor Castle from the north. The North Terrace and Round Tower are seen from across the Little Park. Trees and fields are in the foreground, with the River Thames on the far right. A figure on horseback, accompanied by a second horse, is on the towpath, with more figures further back. The Little Park is today known as the Home Park, while the Round Tower was doubled in height in the 1820s, as part of Sir Jeffry Wyatville’s work for George IV.
Photograph: Windsor Castle from the north, c.1765.
Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty The Queen 2013.
This beautiful watercolour shows the North Terrace looking west towards Queen Elizabeth's Gallery, Winchester Tower, and the Canon’s houses. Groups of figures, soldiers and a boy with a dog are walking on the terrace. A group of women and children are seated on the low wall to the right. In the distance is the church of St Andrew’s, Clewer and the Thames Valley towards the hills beyond Maidenhead. Sandby made many watercolours, drawings and bodycolours of the North Terrace, looking both east and west, from the 1760s until his death. The appearance of the terrace, described in contemporary guidebooks as the noblest walk in Europe’ (Joseph Pote, Les Delices de Windsore, 1763), has changed little since the 18th century.
Photograph: The North Terrace of Windsor Castle, c.1790. Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty The Queen 2013.
Want to know more? Download the free Capturing the Castle’ app that lets you explore Windsor Castle and its grounds through Sandby’s watercolours and contemporary photographs, available from the iTunes App Store.