Paul Sandby

Paul Sandby (1731 – 9 November 1809) was an English map-maker turned landscape painter in watercolours, who, along with his older brother Thomas, became one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768.

Born in Nottingham, Sandby joined the topographical drawing room of the Board of Ordnance at the Tower of London in the early 1740s and in 1747 was tasked as chief draughtsman with mapping the remote Scottish Highlands - a "compleat and accurate survey of Scotland".

While undertaking this commission, which included preparing designs for new bridges and fortifications, he began producing watercolour landscapes documenting the changes in Scotland after the 1745 rebellion, and sketches of Scottish events such as the hanging in Edinburgh of soldier-turned-forger John Young in 1751. News of his talent soon spread.

In 1752, he took up a post with his brother producing landscapes of the royal estates at Windsor (the royal collection includes over 500 images by the Sandby brothers). His skills were applauded by fellow artists such as Thomas Gainsborough: if one wanted "real Views from Nature in this Country", declared Gainsborough in 1764, there was no better artist than Sandby, who frequently "employ'd his pencil that way." He also drew some caricatures ridiculing William Hogarth.

In 1768, he was appointed chief drawing master to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, a position he retained until 1799. Sandby made his first recorded visit to Wales in 1770, later (1773) touring south Wales with Sir Joseph Banks, resulting in the 1775 publication of XII Views in South Wales and a further 12 views the following year, part of a 48-plate series of aquatint engravings depicting Welsh scenery commissioned by Banks.

He died in London in 1809 and was described in his obituaries as 'the father of modern landscape painting in watercolours'.

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