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Unsuspected Paradise

Mills at Ambleside c. 1820. Artist unknown, possibly circle of Robert Hills (1769-1844).

Lakeland Landscape Watercolours from the 18th – 20th Century.

Temporary exhibition the Library Gallery 20th May – 27th August 2016

In 1769 the poet Thomas Gray visited the Lake District and described in his journal the view of Grasmere from Dunmail Raise as “one of the sweetest landscapes, that art ever attempted to imitate… this little unsuspected paradise…’. Successive generations of artists, writers and tourists have visited the Lake District since this date, and all have been, to a greater or lesser extent, inspired by those seminal words.

The artists who produced Lake District views from the late 18th century onwards were either tourists themselves or were responding to the demands of the tourist industry. Together, they vastly increased the visual vocabulary of Lake District landscape. Some, like Thomas Sunderland, were born and lived locally, some, like Edward Lear, came as fleeting visitors, and some came to visit and ended up staying, such as Alfred Heaton Cooper or W.G. Collingwood.

This small exhibition of watercolours by a range of amateur and professional artists shows a variety of responses to the Lake District landscape from the 18th to the 20th century. Most of the works are the property of private collectors local to Ambleside, and we are grateful to those who have made them available for this exhibition, which has been supplemented by sketchbooks, case material and some framed works from the Armitt’s own collection.