The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Antiquary
  • Richard Parkes Bonington (1802 - 1828)
  • The Antiquary
  • France
  • c. 1827
  • Painting
  • Watercolour and bodycolour with gum varnish on paper
  • Image size: 20.7 x 16 cm
  • P672
  • Not on display
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This watercolour was probably painted c.1827. The title, incorrectly associating the watercolour with Walter Scott’s novel 'The Antiquary' (1816), was given to the reproductive engraving by Samuel William Reynolds published in 1829. The figures wear costumes of different dates: the woman’s is in a late seventeenth-century Dutch style; while the man’s is characteristic of late sixteenth-century Italy. The head of the man may derive from an engraving after a portrait formerly attributed to Tintoretto of Doge Nicolò da Ponte, of which there are at least two versions, or after the late self-portrait by Titian now in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (cf. Bonington, 'Old Man and Child', P698). With its central figure staring manically at a coin, his scales and casket and perhaps his record of accounts, this may be an image of a miser, but more likely he is a collector of antiquarian objects - there is also a pile of armour in the foreground. Bonington may therefore have been poking gentle fun at his contemporaries' fascination with the medieval past, a fascination which he fully shared. He may also, however, have had a specific collector in mind - Alexandre du Sommerard (1779-1842) who in 1825-6 had sold his collection of contemporary paintings to devote himself to French art of the Middle Ages.