George Samuel (active 1785–1823), a topographical watercolourist, was along with Thomas Girtin one of five professionals who made up the Sketching Society, which, initially at least, was known as ‘the Brothers’. He attended ten of the Society’s meetings held in the latter months of 1799, most notably on 28 September, when he chose a passage for illustration describing a frozen watermill from The Task by William Cowper (1731–1800) (Sketching Society, Minute Book, 28 September 1799). Details of the Society’s Laws, the names of attendees, and excerpts from the selected poems are transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1799 – Item 5). The only complete set of Sketching Society subjects includes watercolours by Girtin (TG1501) and Paul Sandby Munn (1773–1845) (see the second comparative image), a comic take on the subject by Robert Ker Porter (1777–1842) (see the third comparative image) and a drawing by Samuel himself (see the first comparative image). Samuel subscribed to Girtin’s set of aquatints, the Picturesque Views in Paris (Chancery, Income and Expenses, 1804), and they reappeared in his posthumous sale (Exhibitions: Sotheby’s, 28 May 1823, lot 259). A list of subscribers is included in John Girtin’s account of the income he received from the publication, together with the expenses incurred in completing the project. They are transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1804 – Item 1). Samuel’s own work as a watercolourist has been little studied, but it latterly appears to show the influence of Girtin, and this, I suspect, has led to a number of his works being misattributed, including Brougham Castle (see comparative image TG1577).


The Frozen Watermill, from William Cowper’s ‘The Task’


1800 - 1810

A Distant View of a Castle, Said to Be Lowther in Westmorland