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A Castle and Lake by Moonlight

Abraham Pether

A Castle and Lake by Moonlight

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ArtistAbraham Pether (1756-1812)
TitleA Castle and Lake by Moonlight
MediumOil on canvas
ProvenanceSold through Sotheby's, London, on 29 July 1964 (Lot 354); from which sale purchased by J. S. Maas & Co. Ltd., London (listed in Maas records as possibly by Sebastian Peter); from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in November 1965
Exhibition'Skies', Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery, 8 May to12 July 2009; 'Reflections: An Exhibition Curated by Clementina Cosco', student display at the Government Art Collection, London, 5 to 14 April 2011; "Dark Vision", Government Art Collection, May 2016-November 2016
Dimensionsheight: 63.50 cm, width: 76.00 cm
AcquisitionPurchased from the Jeremy Maas Gallery, November 1965
LocationUK, London, Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall
GAC number7253

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This atmospheric painting shows a fortified building and two men fishing by moonlight from a small dinghy on a river.

The building depicted resembles early 19th-century images of Chepstow Castle on the river Wye, in Wales. Painter Abraham Pether certainly knew of Chepstow as a painting of the castle by him was sold through Phillips auctioneers in 1980. However, although influenced by a real castle, this is one of numerous imaginary views by Pether showing an invented castle in a waterside setting, lit by moonlight. Despite the many similar works by Pether in existence, he is not known to have painted any of his imaginary compositions more than once.

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This work contains the following subjects; choose a subject below to cross-refer to other works in the collection:

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landscape C19th

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Abraham Pether

Abraham Pether, a cousin of the painter William Pether, was born at Chichester and as a child showed a talent for music. However, he later became a pupil of the painter George Smith. His works mainly depict river and mountain scenery, often with classical buildings, although it was his popular moonlit views that inspired the nickname ‘Moonlight Pether’. He exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy and Free Society of Artists. Despite some success Pether was never able to do more than provide for the basic needs of his wife and children. Towards the end of his life he was incapacitated by disease. The Artist’s Benevolent Fund faced severe criticism for not supporting his family after the artist’s death, despite their acute poverty.