As we’re in an antiquarian mood (see previous post), I present for your delectation some prints from my collection. None of them are dated but I am given to believe that they are all around the 1860s-1870s-mark.
However: take a look at this, my latest, print of Workington, land of my ancestors. The harbour’s there, and the artist has added a few discreet-yet-picturesque smoking chimneys… but what’s with the mountains? Did the artist travel to Workington overland and find the mountains he passed en route were more startling than the destination? Or was he so keen to get his thumbs back to his silken couch* that he forgot that the mountains – admittedly England’s highest – are fifteen miles away and not visible from this point?
Another of my favourite prints is this one, a commonly-seen one, of Penrith’s Giant’s Grave. There are two issues with this one: firstly, the buildings alongside aren’t quite right, and secondly, the monument just isn’t that tall. It is true that the structure is a startling one in a sedate churchyard next to a Georgian church, but either the visitors are midgets or the anglian cross shafts on either end were 40% bigger 150 years ago.
This print of Castlerigg is just lovely, and I’d like to think that this is what it looked like before fiercely grazing livestock, tourism and The National Trust got hold of it, but given Workington’s giant mountains and Penrith enormous edifices, can we believe it? There is another print by Robert Sears, dated 1843, which seems to have different trees and some very odd things going on with some of the taller stones.
I suppose we should take the nostalgia and romance aspect into account. Do these pictures represent the spirit of the places, rather than the facts? The shipping town tucked behind the mountain range, the great surprise of the ancient monument, and the unknowableness of a stone circle, even now?
*See previous post