William Nesfield

British, b.1794, d.1881

A Castle At Sunset

Nesfield specialised in picturesque landscapes featuring radiant sunsets and tumbling ruins. In these works he was responding to the 18th century aesthetic ideas of the 'sublime' as expounded by Edmund Burke in his 'A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful' published in 1756. The British critic John Ruskin was also a great supporter of the sublime style and spoke admiringly of Nesfield's 'radiant' works. Most of Nesfield's landscapes were worked from studies made in Wales, Yorkshire or Scotland. This is thought to be Bamborough Castle in Northumberland. With immaculately applied watercolour washes he presents the romantic ruins of the old castle against the luminous sunset, while careful touches of opaque watercolour supply the fine detail.