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Painting (Watercolour on Paper) of Donati's Comet, by Edward Backhouse, October 11, 1858

Inventory Number: 13515
Object Type:
Persons: Edward Backhouse (Artist)
Date Created: 1858
Accession Number: 2013-5
Brief Description: Watercolour drawing on stiff paper, entirely in black, white (including chalk), and greys, with curved top corners in the manner of a print or photograph; showing the comet huge in a starry night sky above a landscape with trees and two small figures. Unsigned, but identified in a modern inscription on the back.

The artist is the Quaker preacher, philanthropist, and ecclesiastical historian Edward Backhouse (1808-1879), who is not (hitherto) associated with science or astronomy, even as an amateur, though he was known as a good amateur painter. He lived in Sunderland, and viewed the comet from Hexham, Northumberland, about 30 miles west. Donati's was the most clearly visible comet of the 19th century, first seen by Giovanni Donati on June 2, 1858, and came closest to Earth on October 9, when it developed an enormous tail, as depicted in this drawing. It will be back in about 2000 years.
Primary Inscriptions:
Provenance: Purchased from Samuel Gedge in 2013.
Collection Group:
Material(s): Paper
Height Width Depth Diameter Unit
430 298 mm

There are no associated narratives.

Image with multimedia irn 54665