– A Rediscovery –

A group of 44 original drawings for the engravings to illustrate
Italian Scenery from Drawings made in 1817 by Miss Batty*
published by Rodwell & Martin, 1820.

‘To Doctor Batty, M.D. F.L.S. of the Royal College of Physicians etc. etc. these Views of Italian Scenery* are dedicated, as a grateful testimonial of his unvaried kindness, and as a tributary token of the pleasure derived from a tour made through that delightful Country in 1817, by his affectionate daughter Elizabeth Frances Batty. London, April, 1818.’

*The Descriptions were written ‘by a friend of the Publisher’s’.

These 44 drawings introduce the previously unknown artist Elizabeth Frances Batty (1791-1875). Painted in pen, brush and sepia inks they record the journey she and her father, a distinguished doctor and Fellow of the Linnean Society, made to Italy in 1817. Following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 Europe had once again become accessible to British travellers, and as their numbers rose, so did interest in Illustrated Travel Books. Accurate and  evocative wash drawings made by those who actually made the journey soon after Peace, such as Miss Batty, were the cornerstone of these publications, and on which their success depended.

One might be excused for believing these drawings were the creation of a hard-working professional, rather than by that much maligned creature; the accomplished Lady Amateur. The quality of the work of the 26-year-old Miss Batty, suggests not only the experienced use of a Camera Obscura, but also tuition from the fashionable watercolour painter and teacher, John Glover O.W.S., the pioneer of the ‘split brush’ technique with which she enlivened and gave atmosphere to her ‘views’. Glover exhibited successfully at the recently formed Society of Painters in Watercolour from 1805 where his work attracted admiration and his practice as a painting master took off. Elizabeth Batty was of that milieu which attended the Society’s exhibitions and took lessons from the exhibiting artists. What distinguishes her drawings from other Amateurs’ work is not just their quality, but that they were undoubtedly drawn with the engraver in mind – with all the information he would require. Now famous for his 1831 emigration to Tasmania, Glover had already made most of Peace; visiting Paris briefly in 1814, and an Italian trip in 1818 – by which time Miss Batty had finished her Views of Italian Scenery.

Despite the quality of these drawings no other work by Elizabeth Batty has been identified. Interestingly, Enoch Wood & Sons, the Staffordshire potters, used her Italian Views on their blueprinted earthenware. Whether there was a commercial arrangement between them about this is unknown. However, the export of huge quantities of this earthenware to the U.S.A. meant that, however, subliminally, Miss Batty’s 1817 trip continued to con tribute to and perpetuate the romance of Italy.

In c.1822 Miss Batty married Philip Martineau (1791-1860) a Master in Chancery and member of a Brewing dynasty. Their children included the artist Robert Braithwaitwe Martineau (1826-1849) (Painter of ‘Last Day in the Old Home’) and the architect Edward Henry Martineau (1825-1901).

Elizabeth Batty’s brother, Lt. Colonel Robert Batty (1789-1848) also made drawings, in much the same manner as his sister, which were used to illustrate books recording his own European travels. However, the first of these was not published until 1822, five years after these Italian Views were painted and two years after they were published. That he was schooled and inspired as an artist by the same Master as his sister, possible Glover, is also very apparent.

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