A highlight of 2014 was the discovery and identification of a watercolour by the Fenland Trust that resides in the Lady Lever Art Gallery Collection Museum. The previously unidentified painting, licensed and on sale internationally, was painted by the master Peter DeWint and simply titled The Windmill.
Its real identity is the famous Yaxley Stone Mill, one of the three legendary wonders of Huntingdonshire, tragically demolished in 1937. The piece now has a full history supplied by the Fenland Trust.
Peter De Wint (21 January 1784 – 30 January 1849) was an English landscape painter. A number of his pictures are in the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and The Collection, Lincoln. He died in London.
De Wint was the son of an English physician of Dutch extraction who had come to England from New York. He was born in Stone, Staffordshire. He moved to London in 1802, and was apprenticed to John Raphael Smith, the mezzotint engraver and portrait painter. He bought his freedom from Smith in 1806, on condition that he supplied 18 oil paintings over the following two years.
In 1806 he visited Lincoln for the first time, with the painter of historical subjects William Hilton, R.A., whose sister Harriet he married in 1810. De Wint and Hilton lived together in Broad Street, Golden Square, where John Varley lived. Varley gave De Wint lessons and introduced him to Dr Monro, who ran an informal academy for young artists.
De Wint first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1807, and the following year at the Gallery of Associated Artists in Watercolours. In 1809 entered the Royal Academy schools. He was elected an Associate of the Old Watercolour Society in 1810 and was made a full member the following year. By that time, as an established drawing-master, he was spending his summers teaching well-to-do provincial families. In 1812 he became a member of the Society of Painters in Watercolours, where he exhibited for many years, as well as at the Academy.
De Wint’s life was devoted to art; he painted admirably in oils, and he ranks as one of the chief English watercolorists. “No artist”, asserted Alfred William Rich, “ever came nearer painting a perfect picture than did Peter de Wint”. He frequently visited his wife’s home city of Lincoln, and many of his panoramic landscapes and haymaking scenes are set in Lincolnshire. He occasionally toured in Wales, and in 1828 travelled to Normandy.