Indoor Spaces for Outdoor Minds
Rebuilding the Landscape Studio of George Arnald

Rhian Addison McCreanor

Figure 1. George Arnald, Self-portrait, c.1831, oil on canvas, 74.9 x 62.2 cm. London, National Portrait Gallery. © National Portrait Gallery, London.

After the establishment of the Royal Academy in 1768, London experienced an “age of exhibitions”, a new social culture that changed the artistic economy.[1] In response, artists’ studios adapted to accommodate patrons, to exhibit work, to mould their identity and act as spaces of creativity. Existing scholarship has overlooked the irony that landscape artists were painting in urban London, the outside world being reproduced inside the limits of a room.[2] What scholarship does exist centres on the well-documented lives of atypical celebrities such as John Constable (1776–1837) and J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851), skewing our understanding of the lives of landscape artists. Actually more typical was George Arnald ARA (1766–1841), who was once regarded as a “high celebrity” by contemporaries and exhibited alongside Constable and Turner – all three artists were born and died within a decade of one another.[3] Yet with very few of Arnald’s works surviving in public collection today, little is known about the artist. An important surviving work is Arnald’s self-portrait (Fig. 1, c.1831) which serves as a rare window into the working practices of an early nineteenth-century landscape artist.

From the comfort of his studio, Arnald pauses his painting to turn and face the viewer as if to welcome us into 2 Weston Street, Pentonville.[4] Dressed in a formal suit and black frockcoat, he sits at forty-five degrees looking out at the viewer. His left arm is propped up on the back of the chair, supporting a large circular palette and clutching a paint brush. Notably on the wrong side of his body, a mahl stick is consciously displayed with the palette for the viewer to identify him as an artist. These tools are in contrast to his impractical costume for the profession. Behind the artist’s chair is a wooden box of brushes and pigments in bladders and vials. The artist holds the accoutrements as if at work on the landscape visible upon the easel, yet the composition of the painting appears complete. Behind the artist is an archway with red drapes either side, suggesting that the space beyond is private and not typically open to the public – Arnald’s personal studio-cum-gallery. In the background hangs a framed landscape, The Castle of Gloom, exhibited at the Royal Academy 1814, which expands beyond the vision of the viewer.

Scant contextual information can be drawn from the painting’s creation or provenance. At 75.9 by 62.2 centimetres, the self-portrait is intimate and portable in scale. The painting is seemingly complete, yet on closer examination the pipe clay and India ink underdrawing is visible throughout where thin layers of oil paint appear to have been applied in haste.[5] The underdrawing on the left of the archway is ruled, ensuring the architecture was strictly accurate.[6] The rich colours are carefully considered to balance the composition; however, areas of light on the sitter’s outfit are in fact paint wear. The work’s uncertain provenance means that the date of execution is debatable; however, it was most probably 1831.[7]

H. Perry Chapman describes the studio self-portrait as an opportunity to join “a long and distinguished tradition” for “self-promotion and self-definition”.[8] In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries artists did not sit comfortably in the social hierarchy, so had to legitimise their professional status.[9] Arnald’s life provides insights into the range of strategies employed by artists to justify their hierarchical position. This required an entrepreneurial approach and the promotion of a range of skills to obtain recognition, thus the term “self-promotion” will be employed throughout this article to reflect the conscious efforts made by artists. The artist self-identified in census records and directories as a “landscape painter”, a title which persisted after his death from the dominant genre he exhibited.[10] This article will demonstrate that the self-portrait was only one strategy Arnald employed to reinforce the title. Arnald constructed his career as a “landscape painter” through his relationship with the Royal Academy, his publications, his teaching, and the creation of a purpose-built studio-cum-gallery, to name but a few.

Arnald’s self-portrait does not provide a bona fide insight into the studio of a landscape artist but raises questions about how he used the studio and self-portrait to mould his identity as a landscape artist. The portrait holds a tension between the visual cues advertising Arnald’s professional (and therefore respectable) identity versus the creative reality of the landscape artist.[11] Arnald’s suit, the impractical positioning of the mahl stick, and working on a supposedly completed painting all suggest that this is a staged scene. A fundamental element is Arnald’s use of pictures-within-pictures. Catherine Roach’s 2016 publication is the most comprehensive review of this topic; however, it gravely omits the significance of landscape paintings.[12] As this article will demonstrate, Arnald employed The Castle of Gloom as a visual signature to mark his place in the canon. Ultimately the self-portrait cannot be read as a “faithful” record of the space.[13] This is because “a solitary’s view”, that of the artist, disregards the experience of observers, such as pupils or patrons.[14] Thus unpicking the self-portrait requires a mixed approach which considers the building itself and how the space was used by others.

This article will use Arnald’s self-portrait as a visual case study to interrogate how the artist built and legitimised his identity as a landscape painter. To counterbalance the bias of Arnald’s self-portrait we move beyond the painted canvas to triangulate location data with archival and visual material to rebuild Arnald’s studio – in short, balancing Arnald’s visual self-promotion with factual material about the physical bricks and mortar.[15] Analysing the self-portrait is also an opportunity to draw together the light-touch, presumptuous, and misleading scholarship on Arnald to date, making it the most comprehensive understanding of the landscape artist’s career.[16]

The discussion will begin with a brief biography to understand how Arnald came to London; how he utilised artistic circles, patrons, and publications; and his motivations as an artist. To discern Arnald’s urban experience, the second section will zoom into his Weston Street studio, examining the customisations made in an effort to promote his work and professional status, before moving on to consider how other people experienced and used the space. The third section will consider the studio’s contents, teasing apart Arnald’s self-promotional tropes and the reality of what the studio-cum-gallery contained. Arnald’s self-portrait also provides a unique opportunity to resurrect the now lost The Castle of Gloom. The article will conclude by reflecting on how a mixed methodology can change future scholarship on landscape artists, and the irony that Arnald was reliant on the advantages of urban life in his self-promotion of rural subjects.


George Arnald was born in 1766 in Farndip, Northamptonshire (now Farndish, Bedfordshire).[17] Arnald’s early education was in Wingfield, Houghton Regis, and Leighton Buzzard.[18] According to Joseph Farington (1747–1821), as a child, Arnald’s “chief pleasure” was drawing which he wished to pursue as his profession.[19] It has been suggested that it was Arnald’s employer who recognised his ability and provided him with a drawing master.[20] Arnald soon began portrait painting and by 1788, aged twenty-two, he had moved to London. On his arrival Arnald was taught by Abraham Pether (1756–1812).[21] Arnald purportedly copied Pether’s pictures to such an extent they passed as the teacher’s work, yet soon tried to rid himself of Pether’s style by studying from nature and the work of other masters. Arguably a turning point in Arnald’s early career was Quaker philanthropist Priscilla Wakefield (née Bell) (1751–1832) providing a letter of introduction to Farington in 1802.[22]

Maurice H. Grant (1872–1962) succinctly described Arnald’s career: “except for the one disappointment of his life, the failure to attain Academical rank, he pursued a course of steady success. It was certainly one of unremitting industry”.[23] Arnald was assiduous in his self-promotion throughout his career, utilising the Royal Academy, patronage, and the sale of his works and prints. Arnald studied at the Royal Academy, first exhibiting there in 1788 and was elected as an Associate in 1810. Specialising in the effect of light, storms, classical landscape, and architectural compositions, Arnald continued to make regular contributions to Academy exhibitions, totalling 176 works throughout his life. He also exhibited sixty-three works at the British Institution and five at the Society of Artists of Great Britain.[24] Simon Houfe observed that after becoming an Associate, Arnald made two distinct changes to his subject matter: turning his attention to his native Bedfordshire for inspiration and painting subjects from history and literature. One such work gained Arnald acclaim when in 1825 he was awarded £500 as part of a four-part commission by the British Institution for The Destruction of 'L'Orient' at the Battle of the Nile, 1 August 1798 (1825–27, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich) with an additional £50 as a sign of appreciation.[25]

As was the custom, Arnald canvassed Academicians for their support for election to Associate (ARA) and Academician (RA).[26] He mixed with influential circles such as Farington, Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827), Benjamin West (1738–1820), Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830), Henry Fuseli (1741–1825), and James Christie (1773–1831).[27] Beaumont had such a belief in Arnald that he felt he was a stronger candidate than William Daniell (1769–1837), whilst Arnald’s work was praised by others as “beautiful” and superior to that of Augustus Wall Calcott (1779–1844).[28] Such circles gave Arnald ample opportunity to harness support, gathering “congratulations” and “flattering testimonies” from his peers, and yet this “neither obtain’d my election, not a single commission”.[29] Arnald’s ambitious personality may have hindered his efforts. In a letter to Farington, Lawrence expressed his dislike of “smooth-tongued oil incapables”, stating that “insincerity like his [Arnald’s] cannot belong to a good an [sic] honest man”.[30] Written only a month prior to being elected as Associate, the Academy’s elite may have felt that this rank was enough for Arnald. Yet Arnald did not relent in canvassing for support. In 1831, the same year as purportedly painting the self-portrait, Arnald pushed fellow landscape artist Constable to his limit. Exhausted by appeals in writing and in person, Constable complained, “Poor Arnald has proposed to call on me this evening–good God”.[31] The relationship between the two landscape artists would undoubtedly have been strained as Constable was Arnald’s junior by ten years.[32] In the spring of 1828 both artists were candidates to become Royal Academicians, yet it was Constable who was elected in 1829. A decade later Arnald continued placating the institution by dedicating A Practical Treatise on Landscape Painting in Oil (1839) to the Academy.[33] He explained that he would educate people as there was “none to encourage and develop” the talent of landscape painting. Marketing himself as a martyr did little good as Arnald would never make RA status.

Letters reveal how Arnald worked tirelessly to also garner support from patrons, undoubtedly distracting him from the painting itself. His persuasive and humble language testifies to the artist being a skilled negotiator in “suggesting” a price and flattering his patrons into greater generosity.[34] The artist typically charged fifty guineas for a bishop’s half-length and twenty guineas for a kit-cat.[35] Seemingly the most consistent supporter was George Beaumont, a patron for over a decade. Beaumont disapproved of Arnald’s A mountain-road in Westmoreland being hung in the anti-room at the Royal Academy in 1808, declaring it “the best landscape in the Exhibition” and went on to purchase the painting for 100 guineas.[36] Beaumont also commissioned paintings of Tintern Abbey and Coleorton Hall, Beaumont’s ancestral seat.[37] The work was so revered by Beaumont that he paid Arnald 100 guineas, double the original commission price, and encouraged Farington to hang the work ‘favourably’ at the Academy.[38]

In 1819 a milestone in Arnald’s career was being appointed as “Landscape Painter to the Duke of Gloucester”, Prince William Frederick (1775–1834), which purportedly resulted in a commission to paint Rosslyn Castle, a large landscape to hang in the royal apartments.[39] This relationship may have legitimised Arnald’s professional status, or at least funded it, as the appointment corresponded with his ventures to Europe, travelling to France at least three times, and Belgium five times, between 1819 and 1838.[40] Prior to 1819 Arnald’s travels had been confined to Britain. The young artist journeyed to Wales with watercolour artist John Varley (1778–1842) around 1798, and toured Yorkshire from 1792–1793. John Thomas Smith (1766–1833) also recorded how Arnald and his peers were travelling in and out of London to the likes of Hampstead to study from nature.[41]

With an inconsistent income Arnald had to be entrepreneurial in his efforts to promote his work. Before becoming an ARA Arnald demonstrated and honed his skills copying works by Old Masters.[42] Between 1804 and 1811 there is evidence that Arnald was in desperate need of funds as he attempted to sell his works at auction.[43] This was a precarious process as the artist had no control over the prices which would often guide public opinion on the artist’s oeuvre. Arnald’s entrepreneurial efforts are most assiduously recorded in prints, contributing to topographical volumes on England, Wales, Scotland, and France, including Sir Walter Scott’s The Border Antiquities (1814).[44] Arnald also self-published A Practical Treatise (1839), which featured original oil paintings, allowing the artist to justify charging two guineas per copy.[45] Creating educational tools for refined society was becoming more commonplace following the likes of Alexander (1717–1786) and John Robert Cozens (1752–1797) who published a series of prints and guides on how to create the ideal landscape.[46] Arnald also dedicated his prints to individuals, appealing for subscriptions and sending proofs to potential patrons for their opinion and to pique their interest.[47] Print media not only sold as a commodity, but dissemination enabled works to serve as adverts for the artists’ skills and teaching. As the self-publishing landscape artists placed their addresses clearly on the print, they were declaring their respectable location, and thus their professional status. Arnald’s print media indicates that his aspirations went beyond being a landscape painter to leaving a legacy as a teacher and learned gentleman.

Whilst Grant was able to summarise Arnald’s public career, only the artist can deem whether it was a success.[48] In 1818, Arnald explained that the motives of an artist are “remove[d] from selfishness” because their pursuit seeks only “the attainment of public favour” rather than “pecuniary recompense”. Arnald was in no doubt that it was his destiny and “mental disposition” to pursue landscape painting, a subject “which I love, though unsupported by patronage, uncheered by any gleam of encouragement, have been some of the happiest of my life”.[49] In the 1830s the artist created a nostalgic “Manuscript of Poems”, a marble board and leather-bound album which presents a select autobiography, original drawings, and opinions in verse.[50] This unpublished album portrays quite a different state of mind. Landscape painting “found me poor, and leaves me more than so”, his letters to patrons were “essays … tried in vain”, as he persevered with “The conscious trust that just reward when due” would result in “Some honours gleamed”.[51] The artist is clearly disappointed with his lot in life, that no matter how hard he worked or how honourable he was, he was not adequately rewarded.[52] These two juxtaposing feelings – a clear dedication to the cause and internal torment over his lack of celebrity – show the realities of life as a landscape artist. This lays the foundation for our understanding of the battle landscape artists faced to build a professional public persona, in which the self-portrait and the studio itself were Arnald’s weapons.


Arnald listed thirteen London properties over fifty-three years.[53] Plotting these locations on a map (Fig. 2) has captured how Arnald migrated between busy, affluent areas to more rural villages which were still being built. In 1816 Arnald moved to 2 Weston Street, Pentonville where he remained until his death in 1841.[54] To counterbalance the potentially fictional representations of Arnald’s Weston Street studio in his self-portrait, we will now consider what is known about its fabric: the physical bricks and mortar.

Weston Street (now Rise) is part of the Penton Estate (Fig. 3).[55] Built between 1791 and 1802, the buildings were of good quality. However, their proximity to the River Fleet meant they were regularly flooded. Consequently, the buildings were later deemed “déclassé” and demolished in the 1960s. In a 1943 photograph of Weston Rise (Fig. 4), number 2 is out of the frame on the left, but number 6 would have been identical to Arnald’s property, with the exception of additional land at the rear. Each property was a little under five metres wide, consisting of two main storeys with basement and mansard floors.[56] Before Arnald’s arrival, maps show a front yard, main building with alleyway to the left, large garden and outhouse. An 1871 map shows a large extension was built spanning the width of the house. Arnald was arguably responsible for this extension to create the space through the archway, his studio-cum-gallery. As we can see in the proposed layout of Arnald’s property (Fig. 5), the front parlour would have been the ideal location for Arnald to greet guests and display works before allowing them into the privacy of the studio-cum-gallery.[57] If the parlour was used as an overflow studio as in Arnald’s self-portrait, then it could promptly be tidied and made presentable whenever visitors called, with any artistic detritus relegated to the back room. The ground floor location would also have allowed for the movement of artwork in and out of the building.

The use of the extension as a studio-cum-gallery is corroborated by John Thomas Smith (Fig. 6, c.1830) who depicted Arnald in the same space around a year prior to the self-portrait.[58] Smith’s writings about Arnald suggest that they would have known each other for almost three decades when the drawing was executed.[59] Their working relationship is evident from Arnald passing Smith a page from the sketchbook of Richard Wilson (1714–1782), titled Coast Scene, near Barmouth(?).[60] Smith also lodged at 36 Newman Street in 1805, which he may have recommended to Arnald who resided at the property in 1808 (Fig. 2: property 10).

Figure 2. Table and map created detailing the properties listed by George Arnald. Overlaid on Richard Horwood, Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, the Borough of Southwark and parts adjoining, shewing every house, 1792–99, coloured engraving. London, British Library © The British Library Board Maps.Crace.Port.5.173 / GIS formatting Matthew Sangster / Data the author.

The accuracy of Smith’s architectural observations, down to the decorative imposts on either side of the archway, corroborate the scale of the studio; however, the purpose of the drawing counterposes that of Arnald’s self-portrait. In the foreground, papers are strewn on the floor, with works stacked to the right, whilst a sculptural hand grasping a stick sits on the floor. Aided by a pair of glasses whilst immersed in his work, Arnald is in the centre of the composition with his back to the viewer. Seated upon an adjustable stool with his feet tucked through the frame of the easel, Arnald is swamped by a large painting cloak. The stool and easel stand on a rug with a brick floor visible around the edge. In his left hand Arnald holds a palette and supports the mahl stick, allowing him to paint with the brush in his right hand. In this drawing, the mahl stick is being used to support the artist’s hand compared to its merely symbolic presence in the self-portrait. Behind the easel once again hangs The Castle of Gloom. The scale of the painting abutting the ceiling and back corner of the room shows it was not exaggerated in the self-portrait. It is, however, hanging on a wall adjacent to the arch rather than opposite. It may well be the case that the painting was moved, or some artistic licence was used in the self-portrait to consciously display one of Arnald’s most identifiable works. Behind the artist is the same archway and step which formed the background of the self-portrait, providing a glimpse into the next room.

Arnald’s relative wealth compared to that of his Weston Street neighbours is reflected in the extension of his property, arguably the most significant investment in legitimising his professional status.[61] This studio-cum-gallery would have been approximately four by five metres (Fig. 5). In the self-portrait, the viewer is denied the view around the corner to where Smith would have sat when he drew Arnald. Realistically the square metreage would have been limiting if we consider Arnald may have shared the space at times, the amount of equipment required, the scale of his works, and the stacks of canvases he would have had in progress. A significant feature missing from the extension in the self-portrait and Smith’s drawing is evidence of a light source. There may well have been a skylight installed in the extension, thus illuminating The Castle of Gloom in the self-portrait; however, sadly, lighting is not a feature Arnald discusses in his publications. The investment in the studio-cum-gallery with possible skylight may have been inspired by the re-opening of Turner’s gallery at Queen Anne Street in 1812, or Arnald’s visits to Constable’s studio and gallery at 35 Upper Charlotte Street, both of which utilised skylights for the display of works.[62] The need for London buildings to be adapted suggests that they were not conducive to landscape artists’ needs. Moreover, the investment in urban property undermines the twentieth-century perception of the transient landscape artist. Their location within London determined the potential of the space and how much one could afford to invest. By choosing a property in Pentonville, Arnald was able to afford a home for his family whilst also investing in a studio-cum-gallery to invite the artistic community to his home.

Figure 3. Map of the Pentonville triangle, c.1874 from Philip Temple, “King’s Cross Road and Penton Rise Area”, Survey of London: Volume 47, Northern Clerkenwell and Pentonville, 298–321 (London: London County Council, 2018). © Survey of London/Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Property highlight added by the author.

The next stage of “zooming in” is to consider who shaped and experienced this space. With no surviving records of Arnald’s sales or studio activity, our understanding of family, students and visitors have to be gleaned from a variety of contemporary sources. Months before his death in 1841, census records show that Arnald was a “Landscape Painter” living with Mary Arnald, aged sixty-five, presumably his wife; their son Sebastian Wyndham (1806–1880), aged thirty-five; and Matilda, aged thirty, most likely their daughter.[63] Sebastian attended the Royal Academy schools in 1824 to pursue a career as a sculptor. Between 1823 and 1841 Sebastian listed Weston Street as his address, suggesting father and son shared studio space until the elder’s death. Sebastian purportedly abandoned sculpture to pursue painting historical and biblical subjects.[64]

There were seemingly other artistic children in the household, however it is not known how many children Arnald had. Sources identify several females with the surname Arnald with similar initials exhibiting landscapes between 1823–1831, perhaps all being the Matilda in the 1841 census.[65] The Royal Society of Arts holds a painting by Miss A. M. Arnald, submitted for competition in 1825–26 at fourteen years old, for which she won the Silver Isis medal. The landscape scene, an oil painting on canvas, has an ink underdrawing, composition, and palette all conducive of the teaching of George Arnald in his 1839 treatise.[66] Potentially another daughter, a Miss S. Matilda Arnald, was awarded the large Silver Medal for flowers in oil (1822).[67] Finally, in 1827 a Mr. A. Arnald was awarded the Silver Palette for his chalk drawing of animals.[68] It is most probable that it was Arnald who taught his children how to draw and paint, perhaps even sharing his studio and equipment as the members of the family acted as models for one another. In 1798 Arnald exhibited a portrait of his wife, whilst Sebastian exhibited busts of both his father and sister in 1823 and 1829 respectively.[69]

The presence of one or more daughters at Weston Street is notable. To become exhibiting landscape artists in their own right, it appears that Arnald granted his daughters access to his studio and knowledge, thus suggesting he supported female artists. The limited autonomy women possessed would have restricted Arnald’s daughters from seeking tutelage or practising in public to the same extent as their brothers, so a professional artist as a father would have provided more opportunities than other women had access to.[70] For example, the family trade would have provided an appropriate environment for chaperons to travel to landscape scenery.[71] Arnald’s apparent support for female artists is reinforced by him teaching oil painting to Amelia Hume (1772–1837), who went on to exhibit at the Royal Academy, and Harriet Wilson (?1791–1855).[72] Farington reported that Arnald’s lessons were two hours long at a guinea each, a fee which Farington encouraged him to reduce.[73]

Whilst Arnald charged for teaching sessions with female students, the experience of a male student, who could spend more time in the presence of the artist without a chaperone, may have resembled an apprenticeship or assistant role. Henry William Pickersgill (1782–1875) was a student from 1802 to 1805 when Arnald was living in Hatton Garden, and perhaps at Wilderness Row (Fig. 2: properties 6 and 7).[74] Grant also claims that George Crockford (fl. 1835–65) was a pupil and imitator. Crockford was known to buy Arnald’s paintings and even alter them, simplifying the signature to “G”.[75] Such intervention makes identifying and dating Arnald’s work particularly challenging. Apprentices making alterations was common in a busy studio, suggesting Crockford may have been under Arnald’s tutelage to exude such confidence.

Figure 4. Photographer unknown, Weston Rise, East side, looking south, 1943. Swindon, Historic England Archive. Author’s annotations of house numbers. © Historic England Archive.

If Arnald shared his studio with his family and students, did he ever share it with other artists? For the creation of Smith’s drawing Arnald was not distracted by the artist’s presence, suggesting that artists, or at least Smith, visited Arnald’s studio without ceremony. Arnald also collaborated with other artists, warranting their presence. It was not uncommon for patrons to request one artist for the landscape and another for the figures.[76] When living in Hatton Garden, Arnald was commissioned to paint two pictures of Views up and down the River from the house of Edward Hussey Delaval (1720–1814) near Parliament Stairs.[77] Delaval invited portraitist George Francis Joseph (1764–1814) to paint the figures, which Joseph would most likely have executed in Arnald’s rooms once the significant elements of the composition were complete. At this stage in his career, Arnald may not yet have made a name for himself painting figures; however, it is evident from his self-portrait, and the figures he depicts himself working on, that he was a competent portraitist.

Arnald’s visitors predominately consisted of other artists, such as Farington, and potential patrons.[78] Henry Edridge (1768–1821) likely visited having worked with Arnald on The Beauties of England and Wales (1812), and supposedly introduced Arnald to Sir Thomas Bernard and Mr Herbert of Muckross, County Kerry. In addition to the names mentioned throughout this article, Arnald received commissions from or sold works to the Countess of Bridgewater, the Earl of Portsmouth, Lord Carnarvon, Percy Wyndham, Dr Vaughan, James Whitebread MP, Archdeacon Markham, and perhaps Countess Howe, William Edaile, and Lord Grimstone.[79] Arnald visited many of these individuals, meaning it is possible that they reciprocated with a visit to one of his studios. However, if Arnald wanted to make his studio a visitor destination, Pentonville was an unusual location as it was out of the artistic centre, and the artist’s omission from social directories, compared to his Academy peers reflects his absence from fashionable society.[80] Despite being separated from the epicentre, Arnald may have been visited by three landscape artists who lived on Weston Street during his occupancy: G. R. Plimpton, T. T. Wright, and George Hughes. Tenants also included an engraver, Gunn, and the painter Thomas Tucker.[81] George Cruikshank (1792–1878) was another notable artist living at 22 Myddleton Terrace in 1827. The presence of Arnald’s family and students would have impacted on how much space he had to work, the variety and volume of equipment. But impressing patrons and fellow artists primarily drove how Arnald dressed his studio and its contents.


In his succinct guide, A Practical Treatise on Landscape Painting, Arnald emphasises that his advice is based on his own experience, and thus can be used to corroborate the contents of his studio in the self-portrait and Smith’s drawing.[82] Arnald lists the equipment, materials, and colours needed by the reader which echo the self-portrait; the painting box, easel, and palette are clearly visible, whilst the palette knife is standing upright in the left-hand side of his box. The contents of the box are more abstract in the painting: “pastiles” [sic] of pipe clay for the underdrawing; mahl stick; stable, fitch, hog’s hair and badger hair “pencils” (or brushes) in a variety of different shapes and sizes; linseed oil, turpentine, varnish, and mastic which are evident in the jars. Arnald has used the treatise as a shopping list for all the “necessary colours” required to paint a landscape, their opacity, and the order in which they should be placed on the palette. These directly correspond to the colours on the self-portrait palette, verifying the systematic methods Arnald applied to his works. Whilst the treatise is designed to be brief so as not to leave the student “embarrassed, or unnecessarily burdened”, the reader is in fact left with more questions than answers as Arnald does not tackle surface preparation, lighting, drying time, and so forth. Interestingly Arnald records a small A-frame easel and red upholstered chair in his self-portrait, whilst Smith records a larger H-frame easel with adjustable stool. This suggests Arnald did have a small variety of equipment and that he probably chose the chair from elsewhere in the house to dress the painting.

The most notable contrast between Arnald and Smith’s representations is the respectable study space versus a world of creativity. The accuracy of the Smith’s architectural observations and absence of performative tropes mean we are inclined to consider Smith’s representation as more realistic. Smith illustrates Arnald surrounded by paper, perhaps preliminary sketches from nature, which Arnald often drew on the backs of previous sketches, letters, wrapping paper, and scrap paper.[83] For formal drawings he used the widely available paper produced by James Whatman (1741–1798).[84] It is also known that Arnald used his Weston Street studio for engraving.[85] Yet in the self-portrait there is no evidence of the detritus from sketching and printing, the only sign of loose works being the folio propped below the shelves. The mess can be packed away to become a polite space for intellectual work, allowing Arnald to dissociate himself from the labouring classes and the toil of manual labour, which was essential to public perception.[86]

Arnald not only omitted the clutter of his artistic activity but added theatrical “staging” components which the artist could use to “define a field of vision”, dictating what the viewer will see between the illusion and the reality of the painted image.[87] On the left of the self-portrait, six shelves of books declare Arnald an educated liberal man. Such tomes may have included Thomas Wright’s Life of Richard Wilson (1824), a book which Arnald annotated with a portrait of landscape painter, Faithful Christopher Pack (1760–1840).[88] Arnald’s own Manuscript of Poems (c.1830) may also feature as the artist’s name and address are on the front-end paper, placing the album in his studio.[89] Arnald also subscribed to topographical works by his peers, such as Smith’s Antiquities of Westminster (1807).[90] Arnald’s perceived learned nature does not align with the impression made on William Wordsworth (1770–1850) who wrote to Beaumont that Arnald “would have been a better Painter, if his Genius led him to read more in the early part of his life … I do not think it possible to excel in landscape painting without a strong tincture of the Poetic Spirit”.[91] If Arnald was aware of Wordsworth’s opinion, displaying books in his self-portrait would have been the ideal opportunity to rectify this perception.

Arnald’s liberal status is reinforced by the mahl stick which echoes the gentlemanly signifier of the cane or the riding crop. Hannah French has investigated how these accessories served as symbols of respectability, indicating the sitter’s profession or, as Katherine Lester and Bess Viola Oerke describe, items which “permeated masculine leisure” time thus reflecting their wealth.[92] The head of Arnald’s mahl stick looks more like the crafted metal of a walking stick handle than soft padded leather for painting, thus it holds a dual purpose: a symbol of his profession and a symbol of leisure. This association with leisure would have helped Arnald’s transition from being perceived as a tradesman to an educated gentleman.

The addition of curtains also aids the dressing of the space, contrasting to the permanence of the archway. The left curtain is tucked back as if not in use, whilst the right one is draped or pinned to the back of Arnald’s chair as if to hide a multitude of sins in the next room. Painted curtains are typically an iconographic motif associated with the revelation of the sacred, heightening the effect of the work on the spectator when revealed and allowing privacy for contemplation whilst simultaneously showing the viewer that they are looking at a representation.[93] The red curtain also provides a natural association with the theatre, the “reveal” of The Castle of Gloom being evocative of the craze for dioramas and panoramas in the nineteenth century.[94] In Henry Singleton’s (1766–1839) The Royal Academicians in General Assembly (1795) the curtains define the foreground for the viewer so that as the curtain lifts Singleton’s sitters are revealed in a tableau vivant, as if poised to play out the politics and drama of the Academy.[95] Equally the curtain warns of the theatrical fantasy that may lay beyond and threatens to drop again at any moment.[96] In Arnald’s studio, patrons are at risk of not seeing those works again and for something different to be in its place, much like the replacement of a theatre set.

Figure 5. Author’s proposed layout of the ground floor of 2 Weston Street, Pentonville during George Arnald’s occupancy. © The author.
Figure 6. John Thomas Smith, George Arnald, c.1830, sepia and wash on paper, 343 x 229 mm. London, National Portrait Gallery. © National Portrait Gallery, London.


The fundamental element of Arnald’s staged studio contents is his use of pictures-within-pictures, a common trope in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.[97] The device allowed artists the freedom to make a statement about their chosen genre, the works serving as marginalia to support their commentary of the image. This visual game was reliant on the knowledge and understanding of those who viewed it­ ­– in Arnald’s case, potential patrons of landscape paintings. One can read Arnald’s use of pictures-within-pictures as contributions to his conscious self-promotion and his place in British art.[98] For example the portrait reliefs on the left-hand archway suggest his family are part of his artistic lineage, whilst the propped-up works – one seemingly of a female sitter and the other of a waterfall – promote his ability in portraiture and his variety in landscape painting.[99] Even the folio in the foreground is close enough as if we could pick it up to leaf through.

The most prominent picture-within-the-picture is The Castle of Gloom.[100] Arnald uses this picture to create the illusion of a theatre backdrop or window with a balcony. This metaphorical portal looks out beyond the room, only to be exposed as a painting by the bottom left and top right edges of the frame being visible. It showcases Arnald’s ability to capture a rural landscape as if the viewer is looking straight out a window – an ironic optical illusion as they would have been looking out onto a busy, practical London garden. Arnald is evidencing his ability to harness the power of nature. Whilst Arnald lacked financial possession of the landscape, he was gaining visual possession and thus increasing his professional status.[101] Arnald is advertising that he has the ability (or imagination) to look out of his window and view a fragment of nature from the comfort of his urban London studio.[102] It would have been more convincing as a mural, but removing the frame altogether would have undermined the purpose: to promote The Castle of Gloom as something tangible which could be purchased and removed from the studio.

Tracing the provenance of The Castle of Gloom is challenging as Arnald produced several works of the same name, including a version to be engraved for The Antiquarian Itinerary (Fig. 7, 1815). The series was likely a result of one or more visits to Clackmannanshire, Scotland between 1809 and 1815.[103] The various compositions are encapsulated by the quotation placed in the Royal Academy 1814 exhibition catalogue with the version in the self-portrait:

From the dreary and solemn situation, this pile was formerly called the Castle of Gloom, and the names of the adjacent places seen analogous to it; for it stands in the parish of Dolor, was bounded by the glen of Care, and washed by the burn of Sorrow.[104]

This is a description of the more commonly named Castle Campbell, a citation from Clement Cruttwell’s (1743–1808) 1801 guide of Britain.[105] It seems that The Castle of Gloom did not sell at the Academy as Arnald exhibited it the following year at the British Institution.[106] Arnald was living at 5 Fitzroy Street at the time of exhibiting, which allows us to surmise that this studio had at least a wall of similar size to Weston Street to hold such a painting. If Arnald and Smith’s representations of the studio contents are understood to be accurate, The Castle of Gloom seemingly failed to sell again and was still in the Weston Street studio fifteen years later. To have such a large-scale work unsold must have been quite a blow to Arnald, reinforcing the need to promote it in the self-portrait. It is possible the painting was still in the studio as late as 1835 when it was engraved by Edward Goodall (1795–1870) (Fig. 8) as Campbell Castle. Whilst there is no information about the engraving’s commission, it was likely that this was Arnald’s final attempt at making some profit from the work and the change in title was part of the promotional process.

Pictures-within-pictures can form a thread of artistic lineage by quoting other artists, essentially laying claim to the image. Copying the works of masters was a standard part of artistic education, so it is unsurprising that artists should feel the right to quote those with which they feel an association. Limited by the frame instead of quotation marks, visual quotations cannot be direct copies because of variations in the artists’ hands and also “declares appropriation from elsewhere”, that this work is real and can be purchased.[107] Scholars have drawn parallels between Arnald’s work, particularly The Castle of Gloom, with those of Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), Claude Lorrain (1600–1682), and Wilson.[108] The association elevates Arnald’s landscape to the status of history painting, or as Roach succinctly puts it, lifting the painting’s status “above a mere topographical record”.[109] In an auction catalogue of 1838, Arnald’s work was also compared to “the free bold style” of Wilson and his compositions were “evidently” based on Gaspar Dughet’s (1615–1675) Landscape with a Storm (c.1660).[110] The Castle of Gloom also has compositional similarities with Wilson’s Landscape Capriccio with Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii, and the Villa of Maeceneas at Tivoli (1754) and Claude’s The Enchanted Castle (1664).[111] Arnald’s links to these artists are not just speculative as he would have had access to their work through patrons.[112] By hanging The Castle of Gloom so prominently, Arnald is staking a claim for his artistic inheritance, arguing that he is “rightful heir, thereby asserting that artist’s place in the canon”.[113]

By placing pictures within the self-portrait, Arnald is applying his signature and visually advertising his name. Thus, the self-portrait can be read as a “Cabinet of Curiosity”, or more accurately a catalogue of paintings.[114] The presence of The Castle of Gloom is significant for the fact it is a landscape: it makes the viewer aware of their surroundings, that a real landscape is beyond the confines of this room. In addition, the mix of subjects featured are thus justified to represent the breadth of Arnald’s portfolio. There is no evidence that Arnald ever exhibited his self-portrait, but it was possibly intended to be presented to a patron to encourage visitors to the studio-cum-gallery. Whilst the self-portrait may not have served as the advertising tool Arnald intended, its function as a catalogue serves a critical resource for art historians today; pictures-within-pictures can resurrect works which no longer exist.

Figure 7. I. C. Varrall, Castle Campbell, Perthshire after painting by George Arnald, 1815, dry point etching. Published in James Storer, The Antiquarian Itinerary. v. 1 (London: Wm. Clarke; J. Murray; S. Bagster; J. M. Richardson and Sherwood & Co., 1815). London, National Art Library. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Figure 8. Edward Goodall after George Arnald, Campbell Castle, c.1835, line engraving on steel, 6.8 x 9.8 cm. Published by Smith, Elder and Company (London). London, Royal Academy of Arts. © Royal Academy of Arts, London.


There is no doubt that Arnald was a self-made artist through his “unremitting industry”, building a studio-cum-gallery in his fight to become part of the artistic establishment. Arnald, like the vast majority of his peers, was lost to history as he failed to obtain the status which would have ensured posthumous fame in public collections. The experiences of Turner and Constable should be considered as atypical, and so too their well-documented studio spaces. This article has demonstrated that the triangulation of visual analysis, archival evidence, and data analysis can reveal more about now lost studios. This article can be used as a foundation on which to re-consider the experiences of landscape artists, compared to the celebrities hitherto acknowledged by scholarship.

It is commonplace for scholarship to analyse eighteenth- and nineteenth-century landscape paintings without considering the context of their, often, urban creation. Landscape artists fought to be seen, self-promoting through their studios and a myriad of entrepreneurial practices. Although Arnald worked on rural landscapes, there is an irony that his career was determined by the theatricality of urbanisation: the need for self-promotion, networking and obtaining patrons, exhibiting works, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Investing in and remaining at a purpose-built city property for twenty-five years demonstrates Arnald’s reliance on urbanisation to promote his rural subjects. The urban studio determined the scale of his works; their palette according to the lighting; and how much creative mess he could make if he was having to dress the studio regularly for visitors. Arnald’s self-portrait is a rare surviving example of a landscape artist at work in their urban studio, serving to amplify the efforts he had already made by building the studio-cum-gallery; however, his self-promotion should always be treated with caution. Arnald has struck a balance between using artistic licence to dress himself and the space as professional, whilst being careful to honestly portray the physical bricks and mortar so that the viewer can witness his skill in recreating the “landscape” of the urban interior.[115]


  1. The author defines the “age of exhibitions” from the establishment of the Royal Academy (RA) in Somerset House (1780) and the increased popularity of the Summer Exhibition, to the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations at The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park (1851), which marked the second “age of exhibitions”. The thesis includes a database and GIS analysis of the location of landscape artists’ addresses – see fig. 2 and note 53. References to other artists throughout this article, and their proximity to Arnald, are a result of this research.

  2. Anne Bermingham, Landscape and Ideology: The English Rustic Tradition, 1740-1860 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 9. This text is an exception and explores the relationship between urbanization and landscape painting as one of “actual loss and imagined recovery”; however, Bermingham only touches briefly on the creation of landscape in the suburban studio (see: 174–175).

  3. John Thomas Smith, Nolleken and His Times, ed. Edmund Goose (London: George Bentley and Son, 1895), 137.

  4. Hitherto identified as 2 Weston Street, Pentonville. Most recently in Giles Waterfield, ed., Palaces of Art : Art Galleries in Britain 1750-1990 (Dulwich Picture Gallery, 1992), 136. The location has been corroborated by the author. See figs. 2 and 5.

  5. The painting has not been examined by a conservator in relation to this article, all observations are those of the author. It is currently housed in an ornamental frame, though it is not known whether this was original. Materials proposed are described by Arnald in the creation of an underdrawing in George Arnald, A Practical Treatise on Landscape Painting in Oil : Illustrated by Various Diagrams and with Two Original Studies in Oil Painted on the Principles given in the Treatise (London: Published by the author and sold by Roberson and Miller, Long Acre, 1839), 6.

  6. This practice was not uncommon as Constable used ruled lines for architectural features. See Sarah Cove, “Constable’s Oil Painting Materials and Techniques”, in Constable, ed. Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams (London: Tate, 1991), 508.

  7. Catalogued as 1831 in Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, ed. Judith Sheppard (London: NPG, 1985), 12. However, an alternative suggestion of 1821 has been made in National Portrait Gallery (NPG) Heinz Archive (HA) 46/58/43, Registered Packet 5242–5254, “Director’s Notes for Portraits on Offer at Trustees” Meeting, 17 May 1979. The sitter’s frockcoat, fall-front trousers with loose ankles and shoes date from the late 1820s to the early 1830s, reinforcing the current dating of 1831. For further observations of the sitter’s identity see the author’s thesis, referenced in note 1. There are no records of provenance until the work appears in the estate of M. H. Grant and his susbsequent publication A Chronological History of the Old English Landscape Painters (in Oil): From the XVIth Century to the XIXth Century (Describing More than 500 Painters) (London, 1926), v. 1, 177–178. Purchased c.1962, Montagu Bernard of 21 Ryder Street; donated to NPG in 1979.

  8. H. P. Chapman, “The Imagined Studios of Rembrandt and Vermeer”, in Inventions of the Studio, Renaissance to Romanticism, Michael Wayne Cole and Mary Pardo (Chapel Hill, NC ; London: University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 110.

  9. For the most comprehensive survey hitherto on artists and class, see Martin Myrone, Making the Modern Artist: Culture, Class and Art-Educational Opportunity in Romantic Britain (London: Paul Mellon Centre, 2020), 57–178. See 131–140 for professionalisation.

  10. For Arnald’s self-declaration of his profession see 1841 census: The National Archives (TNA) PRO HO107/662/6/11 St James Clerkenwell /6/5, GSU roll: 438779; and the baptism record of Emma Jane Arnald: London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) Reference Number: P76/JS1/013, 19 October 1817. Trade directories, which could have been defined by the compiler or the individual it was listing, also defined Arnald as a landscape painter with additional variations such as “poetical” and “figures”. For example, see: Anon., The Literary Blue Book or Kalender of Literature, Science, and Art (London: Marsh and Miller, 1830), 44; James Elmes, ed., Annals of Fine Arts, v. 1 (London: Sherwood, Neely and Jones, 1817), 421; W. Lane, An Illustration of Living Artists; or, a Guide to the Amateur: Being a Classification of Each Professor, According to the Different Branches of Art Which He Practices, with His Address (London: James Ridgeway, 1809), 12, 19. For posthumous references to Arnald’s title see: Algernon Graves, A Dictionary of Artists Who Have Exhibited Works in the Principal London Exhibitions of Oil Paintings from 1760 to 1880 (London: George Bell and Sons, 1884), 7; Samuel Redgrave, A Dictionary of the Artists of the English School: Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers and Ornamentists (London: George Bell and Sons, 1878), 12.

  11. Burton J. Bledstein, The Culture of Professionalism : The Middle Class and the Development of Higher Education in America (New York: W.W. Norton, 1976), 90–99.

  12. Catherine Roach, Pictures-within-Pictures in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London: Routledge, 2016), 3–4, 12.

  13. Ibid., 4, 112.

  14. Svetlana Alpers, The Vexations of Art: Velázquez and Others (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2007), 11–14.

  15. See note 1.

  16. The most detailed examination of Arnald’s biography, works and career is Simon Houfe, “The Bedfordshire Prodigy”, Bedfordshire Magazine Spring (1990): 135–141. Scholarship has otherwise referenced Arnald and his self-portrait for the sake of exhibitions or his listing in a dictionary of artists. These predominantly draw on Grant, Old English Landscape Painters, v. 1, 177–178, which is flawed. To avoid repetition Arnald features in Edward Hunter Holmes Archibald, Dictionary of Sea Painters, 2nd ed (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors Club, 1989), 67; Simon Houfe, The Dictionary of 19th Century British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists, 19th Century British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists, rev. ed. (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors Club, 1996), 50; Huon Mallalieu, The Dictionary of British Watercolour Artists : Up to 1920 (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors Club, 2002), 64; Redgrave, Dictionary of the Artists of the English School, 12; Liz Rideal, Insights: Self-Portraits (London: NPG, 2005), 27; Walker, Regency Portraits, 12–13; Ellis Waterhouse, The Dictionary of British 18th Century Painters in Oils and Crayons (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club, 1981), 1 and 177; Eric A. Willats, Streets with a Story: The Book of Islington, 2nd ed. (London: Islington Local History Education Trust, 1988), 258.

  17. Records of Arnald’s year of birth are mixed, however, the most probable date is 1766, based on location declared to Farington. Bedfordshire Archive Service (BAS) Farndish Parish Registers P 126/1/1 records “George, son, born to Thomas and Mary Arnold [sic]”; Joseph Farington, The Diary of Joseph Farington: January 1808 – June 1809, ed. Kathryn Cave, v. 9 (New Haven: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 1982), 3276–3277, Saturday 14 May, 1808. Also corresponds with the 1841 census (see note 10) where Arnald is listed aged seventy six, so likely born in 1766. Although a different year of birth is suggested, see Houfe, “The Bedfordshire Prodigy”, 136 for Arnald’s family origins. Farington’s Diaries have been published by the Paul Mellon Centre, London in sixteen volumes (Kenneth Garlick and Angus Macintyre eds, vols. 1–6; Kathryn Cave ed. 7–16) and an index (Evelyn Newby, The Diary of Joseph Faringon: Index. London, Paul Mellon Centre, 1998) and will hereafter be refered to by their volume number.

  18. BAS Z693, 89 D

  19. Farington, Diary, 1982, v. 9: 3276–3277.

  20. There is no evidence with which to identify Arnald’s female employer, either a unknown woman to whom he was footman or a Reverend Thomas Orlebar Marsh (1749–1831). Grant, Old English Landscape Painters, v. 1, 177; Houfe, “The Bedfordshire Prodigy”, 136.

  21. Redgrave, Dictionary of the Artists of the English School, 11, records Arnald’s tutor as William Pether (c.1738–1821), however Abraham Pether is more likely as he had an active presence from as early as 1775. This is reinforced by Farington’s description of the Pether Arnald described, including his age, family circumstances and interests in music and technology. Farington, Diary, 1982, v. 9: 376–377. There is no evidence Arnald resided with Pether in Litchfield Street near Leicester Square, however he could have visited them for tutelage walking from his lodgings near Angel (Fig. 2: property 1).

  22. Farington, Diary, 1979, v. 5: 1760.

  23. Grant, Old English Landscape Painters, v. 1, 177.

  24. Graves, Dictionary of Artists in London Exhibitions, 7; Algernon Graves, The Society of Artists of Great Britain, 1760–1791, the Free Society of Artists, 1761–1783: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and Their Work from the Foundation of the Societies to 1791 (Bath: Kingsmead Reprints [1969], 1907), 15.

  25. Arnald describes the experience of this accolade in BAS Z693, 89–90 E.

  26. Farington, Diary, 1982, vol. 10: 3780; 1982, vol. 11: 3875; 1983, vol. 12: 4287.

  27. Farington, Diary, 1982, v. 11: 4136–4137; 1983, v. 12: 4404.

  28. Farington, Diary, 1979, v. 5: 1788; 1982, v. 8: 3017–3018; 1983, v. 12: 4229.

  29. BAS Z693, 89–90 E

  30. RA: LAW1/257 T. Lawrence, Greek Street, Soho, to Farington, Post Office, Dorsetshire, 19 October 1810

  31. R. B. Beckett, ed., John Constable’s Correspondence: Patrons, Dealers and Fellow Artists, v. 4 [SRS10] (Ipswich: Suffolk Records Society, 1966) 259, 4 November 1831

  32. For the relationship between Arnald and Constable and their correspondences see R. B. Beckett, ed., John Constable’s Correspondence: The Correspondence with C. R. Leslie, R.A., v. 3 [SRS8] (Ipswich: Suffolk Records Society, 1965), 50; Beckett, Constable’s Correspondence, 1966, v. 4 [SRS10], 258–261; Leslie Parris et al., eds., John Constable: Further Documents and Correspondence (London: Tate, 1975), 174–178.

  33. Arnald, A Practical Treatise on Landscape Painting, 3.

  34. Letters written from several addresses, including Hoxton and Fitzroy Square. See BAS: W1/2934; W1/2935; FAC6/5.

  35. Farington, Diary, 1982, v. 9: 3325. Approximately equates to £52, 10/-, and £21 respectively. The “kit-cat” format was approximately 91.44 x 71.12 cm and became a standard scale for portraits. The scale was adopted by Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723) who painted the portraits of members of the Kit-cat Club, a Whig society pledged to uphold the Protestant succession.

  36. Exhibited RA 1808, no. 213. Houfe suggests that Beumont is referring to A Pilot Boat putting of at Aldbor'ough, however this was hung in the main room (no. 173). Houfe, “The Bedfordshire Prodigy”, 138. Beaumont’s reaction is detailed in Farington, Diary, 1982, v. 9: 3289, 3297, 3307.

  37. Farington, Diary, 1982, v. 8: 2996; 1982, v. 11: 4057; Houfe, “The Bedfordshire Prodigy”, 138. To complete the latter commission, Arnald visited Coleorton for eight weeks in the autumn of 1811.

  38. Farington, Diary, 1982, v. 11: 4063, 4097, 4109. The work was subsequently hung in the main exhibition, RA 1812, no. 71, alongside Constable’s Landscape: Evening.

  39. Houfe, “The Bedfordshire Prodigy”, 140, does not detail which version of the painting this, what evidence there is of the commission, or what happened to the work. More commonly known as Roslin Castle. A smaller version of the same title survives: Ruins of Rosslyn Casle, Midlothian, 1810. Oil on canvas. Gateshead, Shipley Art Gallery.

  40. Houfe, “The Bedfordshire Prodigy”, 136 and 140. The publications for which Arnald produced works are also a reflection of his travels, see note 44.

  41. Smith, Nolleken and His Times, 112 and 326.

  42. Arnald made a copy of Beaumont’s Rubens; the copy sold in 1813. See Farington, Diary, 1979, v. 6: 2063; Getty Provenance Index (GPI) (Sales Catalog Br-1084, Lot 0138) A Landscape With Figures Highly finished; this picture was the First production of the artist after studying Sir George Beaumont’s celebrated Landscape by Rubens.

  43. Arnald attempted to sell twenty-one works at Greenwood auction house, London, 21 September 1804 (outcomes unknown); and again 9 March 1811, with mixed results (three sold and two bought in). See GPI Sales Catalog Br-290 and Sales Catalog Br-858 respectively.

  44. George Arnald, The River Meuse: Being Delineations of the Picturesque Scenery on the River and Its Banks, from the City of Liége to That of Mezières. The Drawings Were Made ... in ... 1818 ... (London: J and A Arch, 1828); John Britton and Edward Wedlake Brayley, The Beauties of England and Wales, or, Delineations, Topographical, Historical, and Descriptive, of Each County (London: Printed for J. Harris; Longman & Co.; et al., 1812); Edward Dayes, The Works Of The Late Edward Dayes: Containing An Excursion through the Principal Parts Of Derbyshire and Yorkshire (London: Printed by T. Maiden. Published by Mrs Dayes; Vernor & Hood; Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme; W.J. & J. Richardson; Carpenter; and E.W. Brayley, 1805); James Dugdale, The New British Traveller; or, Modern Panorama of England and Wales (London: J. Robins & Co., 1819); Walter Scott, The Border Antiquities of England and Scotland (London: Longman, Hunt, Rees, Orme and Brown, 1814); James Storer, The Antiquarian Itinerary, v. 1 (London: Wm. Clarke; J. Murray; S. Bagster; J. M. Richardson and Sherwood & Co., 1815); Thomas Wright, History and Topography of the County of Essex (London: G. Virtue, 1836). Arnald also contributed illustrations to the unpublished Prospectus of work … The interregnum; or A history of the civil wars in Great Britain…, c.1812–19 by John Aikin (1747–1822) (Sir John Soane’s Museum Collection ref. 1572).

  45. Arnald, A Practical Treatise on Landscape Painting.

  46. See for example Alexander Cozens, A New Method of Landscape [1785], ed. Michael Marqusee (London: Paddington Press, 1977); Alexander Cozens, The Shape, Skeleton and Foliage of Thirty-Two Species of Trees for the Use of Painting and Drawing (London, 1786). For further discussion of how Cozens used print as an educational medium see Rhian Addison, “The Educators of Trees: Alexander and John Robert Cozens”, The Whitworth, 2017. Accessed 22 May 2020; Anne Bermingham, Learning to Draw (London: Paul Mellon Centre, 2000), 93–99.

  47. BAS FAC6/5

  48. It is arguable that Arnald was a success as his occupation rose from the category of labouring and poor, to that of genteel and professional. Arnald was purportedly a footman (see note 20) and his father a toll keeper, see Houfe, “The Bedfordshire Prodigy”, 113. For extensive discussion of the familial backgrounds of RA students see Myrone, Making the Modern Artist, 78­–113.

  49. Arnald, The River Meuse, Introduction.

  50. BAS Z693 and BAS deposits register. Purchased by BAS at auction held by G E Sworder and Sons, 15 Northgate End, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts. CM23 2ET, 30 October 1990 (lot 332). The anonymous vendor was a descendent of the artist. Attempts were made to contact the family, however Sworder and Sons have destroyed all records.

  51. BAS Z693, 16–18 D

  52. Arnald’s success can be gauged by his household. Regardless of some potential inheritance (see BAS B394, 17) and his income, it was not enough to employ live-in servants in the year of his death according to the 1841 census (note 10).

  53. This data was compiled from directories of artists, the most significant being Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and Their Work from Its Foundation in 1769 to 1904 (London: Henry Graves and Co. Lts and George Bell and Sons, 1905), v. 1, 64–66; Graves, The Society of Artists and Free Society, 15; Graves, The British Institution 1806–1867. A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and Their Works from the Foundation of the Institution (London: George Bell and Sons, 1908), 12–13; and supplemented by Ann Cox-Johnson (Saunders), Handlist of Painters, Sculptors & Architects Associated with St. Marylebone, 1760–1960. (London: Borough of St Marylebone, 1963), 3; Elmes, Annals of Fine Arts, v. 1, 421; Anon., The Literary Blue Book, 44; Lane, “An Illustration of Living Artists”, 12, 19. This data has been plotted on a digitised version of Richard Horwood, Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, the Borough of Southwark and parts adjoining, shewing every house (British Library Maps.Crace.V 174, 1799). My thanks to Matthew Sangster for providing access to his map tiles, created for In 1807 there is an anomaly of an address in Camberwell (Fig. 2: property 9) however this may have been a correspondence address whilst travelling.

  54. Died on 21 November 1841 and buried on 2 December. TNA Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths RG 4/4000/Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, City Road, 1838–1849.

  55. The undeveloped land was leased to John Weston the elder, subleased to John Weston the younger, who again leased it to builders to establish terraces represented in fig. 3. Arnald’s property was most likely built by John Brettell of Queen’s Row, Clerkenwell or Edward Perby, a painter and glazier. Surname of latter is not legible and open to interpretation. LMA: MDR 1790/7/257, MDR 1791/9/366.

  56. These properties would have been considered “third rate” according to the Building Act of 1774, intended to reflect the social status of the occupant. See Myrone, Making the Modern Artist, 65–67. Properties described in Philip Temple, ed., “King’s Cross Road and Penton Rise Area”, in Survey of London: Volume 47, Northern Clerkenwell and Pentonville (London: London County Council, 2018), 298–321.

  57. The evolution of the property was established by the author using Plan of the Parish of Clerkenwell, London. Survey by Thomas Horner. Engraved by William Cook Esq. Published in Description of an improved method of delineating estates (1813). Islington Local History Centre (ILHC), U931; Ordinance Survey map 1871, sheet VII.34. By Colonel Bayley R.E. Engraved 1873, published 1874 (ILHC); Penton Estate 1907, Penton Family and Estate Papers (1707–1945), (ILHC S/PEN/2/1). The Castle of Gloom was said to be 283 cm wide (see note 106) providing an understanding that the extension was at least this wide and deep to hang on the back wall and on the right-hand wall. The extension would also have needed to be large enough to hold The Destruction of the ‘L’Orient’ at the Battle of the Nile at 185.5 cm x 269 cm (approx. 6 x 8.8 ft.) which was also painted in Arnald’s time at Weston Street.

  58. Little is known about the work’s provenance. Purchased by T. H. Parker in 1922 and then bought by the NPG. See HA 46/20/82, Registered Packet 1967a. For further observations and the construction of the work see the author’s forthcoming thesis, referenced in note 1.

  59. John Thomas Smith, A Book for a Rainy Day: Or Recollections of the Events of the Years 1766-1833, ed. Wilfred Whitton (London: Methuen & Co., 1905), 175 suggests Smith knew Arnald in 1801.

  60. c.1717–1782, graphite on paper, 14.6 x 19.9 cm. London, British Museum. Gifted by Beaumont to Arnald, then passed to Smith in 1822.

  61. Arnald’s property was the second wealthiest on the street, almost double in value to those further down the hill. Rates were between £24 and £30 over eighteen years, reaching the higher rate in 1820 when the first extension may have been built. ILHC Clerkenwell Poor Rate 1817–1820, 1822–1823, 1825–1833, 1835.

  62. For diagrams of Constable’s studio with light sources see Parris and Fleming-Williams ed., Constable, 43.

  63. For the 1841 census see note 10. Sebastian Wyndham’s age is incorrectly listed as thirty as he would have been thirty-five. Sebastian’s birth was registered in Grasmere, Westmorland on 4 January 1806. Accessed via England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538–1975, FHL Film Number 97368. This correlates with Arnald doing a tour of the Lake District around this period, going on to exhibit a painting of Furness Abbey (RA 1807, no. 537) and A Mountain Road in Westmoreland (RA 1808, no. 213). Sebastian died in 1880, aged seventy-four, at 18 Marchmont Street, Russell Square, a fifteen-minute walk from the Weston Street home. Accessed via General Register Office Civil Registration Death Index, 1837–1915, St Giles, London, 1b, 332; National Probate Calendar, 29 June 1880, 126. There are no surviving records of Arnald’s wife, Mary. A year after moving to Weston Street in 1817, Emma Jane Arnald (1817–1825) was born (note 15), though died in infancy (14 March 1825: BAS Z693, 71).

  64. For a brief overview of career see Redgrave, Dictionary of the Artists of the English School, 12. Before his father’s death Sebastian was exhibiting historical subjects in 1831, and after his father’s death in 1842. See Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, v. 1, 66; Graves, The British Institution, 14; Henry Moore Foundation, “A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660–1851”, accessed 11 June 2021

  65. Miss A. M., A., and M. A. Arnald may all be Matilda (1841 census, see note 10) listing her name interchangeably. Graves, Dictionary of Artists in London Exhibitions, 7; Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, v. 1, 64; Graves, The British Institution, 12; Anon., The Literary Blue Book, 44.

  66. Based on the age at the time of submission, Miss A. M. Arnald would have been born c.1812 and around thirty years old at the time of the 1841 census (note 10), implying this could be the Matilda listed. Royal Society of Arts (RSA)/PR/AR/103/14/935; Arthur Aikin, “PREMIUMS OFFERED IN THE SESSION 1826—1827”, Transactions of the Society, Instituted at London, for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce 44 (1825): xliii, no. 83 (hereafter Aiken RSA Transactions with volume number). Although catalogued as a trial painting (an item which was to be created in front of a panel to prove the individual was the creator of the submission when they have no prior connection to the institution) the composition is so complete, it is more likely to be the original submission.

  67. Location of work unknown. Listed in Aikin RSA Transactions 40 (1822): xxxvi, no. 7. An S. Arnald was admitted to the RA schools in 1824, though there is no evidence that this was the same person. See Myrone, Making the Modern Artist, 242 n. 211.

  68. Location of work unknown. Listed in Aikin RSA Transactions 45 (1827): xxxi, no. 55. It is possible this is an administrative error and is again Miss A. M. Arnald. Alternatively, it could be another son, Alfred, born in 1812, who would have been fourteen years old at the time of the submission [LMA: P89/MRY1/013]: possibly Miss A. M. Arnald’s twin.

  69. All works are untraced. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, v. 1, 64-6: RA 1798, no. 471, Mrs Arnald; RA 1823, no. 1062, George Arnald; RA 1829, no. 1152, AM Arnald.

  70. For the limited autonomy of women in artistic spheres see Bermingham, Learning to Draw, 224–225.

  71. This is the general perception hitherto, however ongoing research into female artists is revealing that women had greater freedom than previously understood such as Rose Brett (1829–1882) and Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899). See Caroline Chapman, Eighteenth-Century Women Artists: Their Trials, Tribulations & Triumphs (London: Unicorn, 2017), 107–108; Pamela Gerrish Nunn, Victorian Women Artists (London: Women’s Press, 1987), 29–30.

  72. Arnald was living at 28 Buckingham Place, Fitzroy Square at the time of teaching Hume (Mrs Charles Long, Lady Farnborough). Wilson was the daughter of Mrs Wilson (née Boileau) and Lestock P Wilson. See Farington Diary, 1998 Index: 570–571; 1983, v. 12: 4154, v. 14: 4765; Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, v. 5: 84–85.

  73. Farington, Diary, 1984, v. 14: 4756.

  74. Arnald’s addresses to not align with those of his students, suggesting they did not live with the artist.

  75. Grant, Old English Landscape Painters, v. 1, 179.

  76. Francis Hayman (1708–1776) painted the figures for George Lambert’s (1700–1765) in View of Copped Hall in Essex, from the Park (1746, oil on canvas. London, Tate). Wilson’s Meleager and Atalanta (c.1770, oil on canvas. London, Tate) contains figures which were altered by John Hamilton Mortimer (1740–1779). See Robin Simon, “New Light on Richard Wilson”, The Burlington Magazine 121, no. 916 (1979): 437–438.

  77. Smith, A Book for a Rainy Day, 175. The pair of paintings were exhibited at Somerset House, their current locations unknown.

  78. Farington, Diary, 1982, v. 9: 3325, 3429; 1982, v. 10: 3526; 1983, v. 12: 4152.

  79. Names compiled from Arnald, The River Meuse, Introduction; BAS W1/2934, W1/2935, FAC6/5; Farington, Diary, 1982, v. 9: 3276–3277, 3289, 3297; 1982, v. 10: 3519, 3526; 1982, v. 11: 4057; Grant, Old English Landscape Painters, v. 1, 177; Houfe, “The Bedfordshire Prodigy”, 137–140; RA AND/22/109; Smith, A Book for a Rainy Day, 276–277.

  80. Weston Street was a thirty-five-minute walk from Somerset House and forty-five-minute walk from Trafalgar Square, the two homes of the Academy during Arnald’s time in Pentonville. The British Institution (BI) on Pall Mall would also have been a fifty-minute walk. Arnald only features intermittently in directories regardless of increased mention of Weston Street. Pigot and Co.’s London and Provincial New Commercial Directory for 1826-7 : Comprising ... the (London: J. Pigot, 1826), 337; Pigot and Co.’s Commercial Directory: 1832 to 1834 (London: Pigot & Co., 1832), 604; Pigot’s London Directory (London: Pigot & Co., 1838), Index 218.

  81. Artist’s dates and Gunn’s first name unknown. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, v. 4, 185; Graves, The British Institution, 289; Jane Johnson, Works Exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists, 1824-1893 : An Antique Collectors’ Club Research Project (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors Club, 1975), v. 1, 373, 524; Robson’s Directory (London: William Robson & Co., 1841), 339; Robson’s London Directory & Court Guide (London: William Robson & Co., 1840), 332.

  82. Arnald, A Practical Treatise on Landscape Painting, 4–5.

  83. Examples at BAS Z693/2 verso, Z693/10 verso, Z693/14 verso.

  84. Watermark on BAS Z693/4. See Peter Bower, Turner’s Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of His Drawing Papers 1787-1820 (London: Tate, 1990); Theresa Fairbanks, Papermaking and the Art of Watercolor in Eighteenth-Century Britain: Paul Sandby and the Whatman Paper Mill. Scott Wilcox ed. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Center for British Art, 2006.

  85. Address specified on Arnald, Bowbignes and Dinant (1822, mezzotint print, 23.2 x 30.2 cm. London, V&A); and Wingfield, Bedfordshire (1815, BAS Z50/26/2), illustrated and discussed in Houfe, “The Bedfordshire Prodigy”, 139.

  86. It was believed that the educated liberal man had the leisure time to invest in the landscape, compared to the servile man who had to live off it. See Anon., The Guardian, issue no. 23, 7 April 1713, cited in John Barrell, “The Public Prospect and the Private View: the politics of taste in eighteenth-century Britain” in Reading Landscape: Country - City - Capital, Simon Pugh (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), 19–40, specifically 24; Elizabeth Helsinger, “Turner and the Representation of England”, in Landscape and Power, 2nd ed., W J T Mitchell (Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 103–126.

  87. Victor Ieronim Stoichiță, The Self-Aware Image: An Insight into Early Modern Metapainting, ed. Anne-Marie Glasheen, Lorenzo Pericolo, and Anne-Marie Poncelet (London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2015), 53.

  88. University of Nottingham Manuscripts and Special Collections (Oversize ND497.W47.W7) includes five pencil studies by Arnald. See T Wright, Some Account of the Life of Richard Wilson, Esq., R.A. (London: Longmans & Co., 1824); Simon, “New Light”, 437–439. Pack was living at 86 Newman Street (1825–1830) whilst Arnald was in Weston Street. The book’s existence suggests they were in the vicinity to visit one another’s studios.

  89. See note 50. The name and address are seemingly in Arnald’s hand. The body of the manuscript seems to be in another hand, perhaps by a member of his family for clarity in the hope that it would be published.

  90. John Thomas Smith, Antiquities of Westminster (London: printed by T. Bensley, 1807).

  91. Mary Moorman and Ernest de Selincourt, eds., The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, v. 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), 518.

  92. Hannah French, “Music, Refinement, Masculinity”, In Focus: Peter Darnell Muilman, Charles Crokatt and William Keable in a Landscape c.1750, by Thomas Gainsborough, ed. John Chu (Tate Research Publication, 2016), accessed 9 February 2019; Katherine Lester and Bess Viola Oerke, Accessories of Dress: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2004), 396–398.

  93. Stoichiță, The Self-Aware Image, 60–61.

  94. Ann Bermingham, “Landscape-O-Rama: The Exhibition Landscape at Somerset House and the Rise of Popular Landscape Entertainments”, in Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House, 1780-1836, ed. David Solkin (New Haven, CT; London: Paul Mellon Centre and the Courtauld Institute Gallery by Yale University Press, 2001), 126–143.

  95. 1795, oil on canvas. London, Royal Academy.

  96. José Ortega y Gasset and Andrea L Bell, “Meditations on the Frame”, Perspecta 26 (1990): 190; Stoichiță, The Self-Aware Image, 258.

  97. Roach, Pictures-within-Pictures, 3–4, 12.

  98. Péter Bokody, Images-within-Images in Italian Painting (1250-1350): Reality and Reflexivity (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2015), synopsis, 2, 8, 12–13, 189.

  99. Arnald was known to paint waterfalls of this composition, such as Hack Fall, Yorkshire, which was engraved for Dayes, The Works Of The Late Edward Dayes, 116–117 (RA 05/2108). Another of the same title sold 23 Jan 1807 (GPI, Sales Catalogue Br-451, Lot 0095).

  100. The earliest identification of the painting is Grant, Old English Landscape Painters, v. 1, 177. Later reaffirmed by Walker, Regency Portraits, 13–14.

  101. The mapping of the landscape – which traditionally reflected the ownership of lands – was now becoming centred on the experience of the viewer and what they saw was theirs to possess. As possession was no longer limited to landowners, the appreciation for landscape expanded to the middle classes through printed ephemera, such as guidebooks, maps and prints. For discussion about changing perceptions of public possession see Elizabeth Helsinger, “Land and National Representation in Britain” in Prospects for the Nation: Recent Essays in British Landscape, 1750–1880, eds. Michael Rosenthal, Christiana Payne, and Scott Wilcox (New Haven: Paul Mellon Centre and the Yale Centre for British Art by Yale University Press, 1997), 13–20; Elizabeth Helsinger, “Turner and the Representation of England” in Mitchell, Landscape and Power, 105; Sam Smiles, “Landscape Painting, c.1770–1840”, in A Companion to British Art : 1600 to the Present, Dana Arnold and David Peters Corbett (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), 401.

  102. Stoichiță, The Self-Aware Image, 4, 40–44, 56.

  103. Storer, The Antiquarian Itinerary. Arnald produced over twenty works for this publication. It is probable Arnald visited Clackmannanshire before 1809, resulting in the work exhibited at BI (1809, no. 163, Castle of Gloom, 3.3 by 3.11 feet (approximately 100 by 90 cm)). Arnald used the quote “The shephard swain, on Scotia’s mountains” from James Beattie, The Minstrel (Edinburgh: printed by James Ballantyne, 1805), v. 1, verse XII. See Graves, The British Institution, 13. Arnald may have visited Clackmannanshire again for The Antiquarian Itinerary (1815) commission, however the caption explicitly states “from a painting” by Arnald so may have been engraved from the BI 1809 painting. In 1817, Arnald’s A beautiful landscape, a View of Castle Cambel [sic], in Scotland was auctioned; however with no dimensions listed, it is not possible to know whether this was one of the versions already identified or another altogether. See George Arnald, A beautiful landscape, a View of Castle Cambel [sic], in Scotland. Sold by Alexander Davidson, auctioneer George Jones, for thirty-nine guineas, 28 April 1817, lot 84. Getty Provenance Index, Sales Catalog Br-1505.

  104. RA, The Exhibition of the Royal Academy M. DCCCXIV (London: Printed by B. McMillan, Bow Street, Covent Garden, 1814), 15, no. 250.

  105. Clement Cruttwell, A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain, v. 6 (London: G. and J. Robinson, G. Kearsley, T. N. Longmand and O. Rees, 1801), 125.

  106. Though frowned upon by audiences, it was possible for artists to re-exhibit work. The dimensions were listed as 7.9 by 9.3 feet (approximately 2.4 by 2.8 metres), echoing the scale in the self-portrait (Figs. 1 and 5). Graves, The British Institution, 13, no. 162.

  107. Roach, Pictures-within-Pictures, 2–6, 64–65.

  108. See for example Rideal, Insights: Self-Portraits, 27.

  109. Roach, Pictures-within-Pictures, 84.

  110. Oil on canvas. London, National Gallery. Comparison to Dughet made upon sale of Arnald, A Landscape, Dido and Aeneas. Christie’s 12 May 1838, lot 52. GPI, Sales Catalog Br-4887.

  111. Claude, The Enchanted Castle (London, National Gallery); Wilson’s Landscape Capriccio with Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii (Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art) may have remained in London, and therefore accessible to Arnald, as it was sold at Christie’s 7 June 1845. See The National Museum of Western Art,, accessed 17 February 2021.

  112. Arnald had previously made a copy of Rubens’s Château de Steen in 1804 from Beaumont’s collection, which suggests he would have had access to Beaumont’s Wilson at the time: see Simon, “New Light”, 439, fn. 12. Beaumont also owned Claude’s Landscape with Hagar and the Angel (1646) and Poussin’s Landscape with a Man washing his Feet at a Fountain (c. 1648) which he later bequeathed to the National Gallery, London. Arnald may well have had access to William Beckford’s (1760–1844) London collection as Turner did in 1799.

  113. Roach, Pictures-within-Pictures, 2.

  114. Ibid., 3; Stoichiță, The Self-Aware Image, 108, 206.

  115. Rhian Addison McCreanor is an AHRC collaborative PhD student between the University of York and Tate Britain. This article has evolved from her ongoing PhD thesis, Landscape Artists’ Studios in London, 1780–1850 (University of York). Rhian was awarded a Research Support Grant by the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art to develop case studies on George Morland (1763– 1804) and John Constable (1776–1837). In 2019 Rhian was a UKRI Research Council Policy Intern at the National Archives, advising DCMS on how policy can evolve to protect digital cultural assets. Previously Rhian was Curator (Historic Fine Art) at the Whitworth, University of Manchester where she curated Cozens and Cozens and South Asian Modernists, 1953-63. Rhian was formerly Assistant Curator at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village and was awarded the Associateship of the Museum Association in 2016. Acknowledgements: This research would not have been possible without funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council which facilitated the joint project between the University of York and Tate Britain, part of the Collaborative Doctoral Programme. My gratitude goes to my supervisors Richard Johns, Martin Myrone and Amy Concannon, who have always encouraged my cross- disciplinary approach to art history. Recognition must be given to Caitlin Doley for suffering numerous versions of this case study. Finally, thank you to Niall McCreanor for his endless patience as my enthusiasm for the research exceeded what I could achieve in daily life.

Article Information
Rhian Addison McCreanor, “Indoor Spaces for Outdoor Minds: Rebuilding the Landscape Studio of George Arnald,” Aspectus, no. 3 (Fall 2021): 1-28.