April, 1826, a young woman in a yellow bonnet sketches a view of the Bath Road near Totterdown. From the direction she is facing, it is clear she is drawing the toll house and Brislington turnpike, known as Arnos Vale Gate, through which a carriage is passing, and also the trees lining the road. She cannot see the tops of St Mary Redcliffe church and the glass kiln off to her right, but the rather incongruously tall and oddly shaped tree on Pile Hill in the distance is just visible as a spot and dash in the discarded sketch by her feet. The Bristol antiquarian, George Weare Braikenridge, Rowbotham's patron and one-time owner of this watercolour, likened this tree dismissively to a 'Patagonian besum', possibly on account of its similarity to an upturned witches brush or besom.
Thomas Leeson Rowbotham (1782-1853) worked for Braikenridge from 1825 until about 1835, recording the rapidly changing Bristol environs. Like many artists, he also earned part of his living as a tutor of art. The young woman in this watercolour is possibly one of Braikenridge's daughters undergoing a lesson. If so, this could be Mary Braikenridge (born 1804) or even Ann Harrington Braikenridge (born 1809), who would have been twenty-two and seventeen years of age respectively. Perhaps Rowbotham, having just assessed Miss Braikenridge's first sketch and instructed her to draw again what she sees, has stepped away to capture his own representation of the view and also his pupil at work. Bristol owns a number of works attributed to Mary Braikenridge and others attributed to a 'Miss Braikenridge'.
I wish to enquire about the content displayed on this page.
: Fine Art
: Totterdown and Pile Hill from Bath Road, showing the Turnpike
: ROWBOTHAM, Thomas Leeson
: a colour drawing on paper, showing: a woman in a bonnet, sketching the toll house, turnpike and Bath Road leading to Totterdown; in the distance is Pile Hill where a very tall trimmed and shaped tree stands; the top of St Mary Redcliffe church and a glass kiln can be seen to the right; the woman drawing is possibly a Miss Braikenridge, a relative of George Weare Braikenridge (1775-1856) the patron and one-time owner of this work
: City of Bristol Collection: Braikenridge Topographical Collection of Bristol (George Weare Braikenridge, 1775-1856)
: Bequest of William Jerdone Braikenridge, 1908