Watercolour with bodycolour
Inscribed to backboard View of a Duck decoy in Lincolnshire / Drawn by J.G. Nattes. 92 New Bond Street 1797
20.5 x 34.5cm



The Lord & Lady Brabourne, Mersham-Le-Hatch;

By descent to Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, C.I., G.B.E., D.C.V.O., G.C.St.J. (1901-1960);

By descent within the Mountbatten family

John Claude Nattes, likely of French or Irish origin, is thought to have been born around 1765. He is recorded as having studied under the Irish landscape artist Hugh Primrose Dean - known as the 'Irish Claude' for the style of his works - having possibly begun his career with Dean as one of his servants, in Rome. His first exhibited paintings were views of Rome in 1781 and 1782 (shown at the RA). 


Once working independently, Nattes travelled all over Britain and France (the latter from 1802 onwards) in search of subjects. Like many of his contemporaries and precedents, Nattes supplemented his income by teaching drawing, dealing in prints, restoration and even mounting & framing at one point. 


He is counted among the first generation of 'British' watercolourists and indeed was a founding member of the 'Old' (a prefix only later applied) Watercolour Society in 1804. Of the six founding members, who all excelled in different subjects and styles, Nattes "was considered to represent the 'old architectural topography'" [1]. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1782 until the foundation of the OWS, and contributed to their exhibitions for three years until - with much scandal - he was found to exhibiting works that were not his own, hoping to increase his share of the proceeds. He resumed exhibiting at the RA with little trouble apparently and continued to do so until 1814. 


Nattes' paintings were first published in 1805 in a book of Scottish views titled Scotia Depicta. This was swiftly followed by Bath, Illustrated by a series of views from the drawings of John Claude Nattes (London, 1806). He also assisted with a book of drawings of versailles, Paris & St Denis, and with a book of Irish views called Hibernia Depicta (intended as a companion volume to Scotia Depicta). 


One of Nattes' best-known commissions was his involvement - alongside other topographical artists - in the four volumes of sketches of Lincolnshire, supervised by Sir Joseph Banks. Nattes also made a number of visits to Worsley and, more interestingly in terms of subject matter, to Stowe, which either led to or were the results of commissions. Between 1805-1809 Nattes visited Stowe Park at least three times and his large number of drawings of the house and grounds were sold at Sotheby's first in 1849 (when they fetched £30) and later in 1980 (when they were sold for £40,000). Nattes' later career included visits to France at a time when anyone but native-Frenchmen would have struggled to enter. He visited Lyons, Grenoble, Provence, Montpelier, Toulouse and, in 1822, the Spa towns of the Pyrenees. 



The present work comes from the 2021 dispersal of property by the family of Lady Edwina Mountbatten of Burma, which included the marquee collection sale at Sotheby's, London on the 24th March. 



[1] John Aldred, John Claude Nattes: An Anglo-French artist in Lancashire in 1807, The British Art Journal, Vol. 4, No.2 (Summer 2003), p.91

JOHN CLAUDE NATTES (c.1765-1839)


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