Description: Droving sheep on Hampstead Heath
signed 'W.DAVIS' (lower right)
oil on canvas
12 1/4 x 18 in. (31.1 x 45.1 cm.)
Artist or Maker: William Davis (1812 - 1873)
Provenance: with Sanderson, Liverpool.
with James A Sinclair & Co. Ltd., London.
Notes: The Viaduct bridge was on the East Park Estate. This was owned by Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson, Lord of the Manor of Hampstead, who had been trying in vain to obtain a Private Act of Parliament to enable him to build on the Heath. In 1844 he drew up extensive plans for luxurious villas and laid down a road from Jack Straw's Castle to Downshire Hill, including the Viaduct bridge, which still exists today.
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From about 1865, the area shown in front of the viaduct in the present picture was leased to a local builder for twenty-one years. Many of the Victorian houses of Fitzjohns Avenue (named after Sir John Maryon Wilson's estate in Essex) and the surrounding area were built with bricks made on the Heath near the Viaduct bridge. During that time, according to a report in the Illustrated London News, East Park Estate had been 'chopped and carved in a manner utterly destructive of its natural form, which was that of a hill gracefully swelling with a fine outline.' The present picture shows the edge of these earthworks to the right of the canvas.
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