John Hornby Maw (1800–85) began his career as a surgical instrument manufacturer and latterly turned to the production of tiles, but in between he combined a creditable practice as an amateur artist with the patronage of the leading watercolourists of the day, including David Cox (1783–1859), Peter De Wint (1784–1849), William Henry Hunt (1790–1864) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851). However, he sold many items from his collection to finance his tile business in the 1850s, having previously sent two works by Girtin to auction (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 25 February 1831). His treatise on watercolour painting, published anonymously in 1831 as Observations, Practical and Theoretical, on the Art of Landscape Painting (Maw, 1831), contains an important early appreciation of Girtin’s work.1 This was later followed by significant published contributions to the discussion about the dangers of the use by Girtin and the young Turner of fugitive pigments (Maw, 1857; Maw, 1872). Maw, as an amateur artist and a collector who owned the badly affected A Rainbow over the River Exe (TG1730), was in a good position to appreciate Girtin’s deleterious use of indigo for his blues.


A Rainbow over the River Exe



  1. 1 Transcribed in part in the Documents section of the Archive (1831 - Item 2).