PETER TILLEMANS (Antwerp 1684 – 1734 Norton, Suffolk)

Peter Tillemans

Peter Tillemans (Antwerp 1684 – 1734 Norton, Suffolk)

Extensive Landscape with Travellers

Black and orange-red chalk, pen and brown ink, grey wash, watermark arms of Berne, 181 x 285 mm (7.1 x 11.2 inch)

~ Paul Sandby (1731-1809), his collector’s mark (Lugt 2112, applied at lower left)
~ Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, 9 December 1986, lot 312


Tillemans was trained in the studios of various minor landscape artists in Antwerp before accompanying his brother-in-law, the still-life and flower painter Peter Casteels (1684-1749) to England in 1708, where he was at first employed as a copyist of Old Master paintings. He quickly established himself as a versatile painter, receiving commissions for portrait groups, history subjects, theatre scenery and decorative painting, as well as his particular speciality of country house views, and panoramic landscapes with sporting activities in the foreground.

In 1711 Tillemans joined the newly established academy of which Kneller was the first Governor and Casteels one of twelve directors. He was also a member of the Society of St Luke, of which he became a Steward in 1725, and of the convivial Rose and Crown Club. In 1719 Tillemans was living in the parish of St Margaret’s, Westminster, and by 1730 somewhere in Marylebone, retiring in 1733 ‘into the Country on account of his ill State of Health', according to the catalogue of his sale. His most important patron was Dr Cox Macro of Little Haugh Hall, Suffolk, where he was employed in decorative painting.

Few drawings by Tillemans have survived, apart from a group of around two hundred topographical drawings of Northamptonshire, intended to illustrated a county history by the antiquary John Bridges, dated 1719-1721.1

The present vibrant panoramic landscape was owned by the renowned English landscapist Paul Sandby (1731-1809) and bears his collector’s mark. Interestingly, Sandby’s early watercolours often display an awareness of the drawings of Tillemans and his colleague William Taverner (1703-1773). Sandby is known to have owned around twenty works by Taverner2 – however no works by Tillemans other than the present drawing are known to have been owned by Sandby.


1. British Library, Department of Manuscripts, Add. MS 32467.
2. Purchased at the Taverner's sale in 1774. Some appeared in Sandby's own sales, at Greenwood's, 27 May 1785, lot 49 (academic studies) and at Christie's, 17 March 1812: lots 70 ('three large views of Greenwich and Woolwich’), and 81 ('Ten grand landscapes Taverner, etc.').