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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

5th October 1858

William Dyce 1806-1864
Pegwell Bay, Kent - a Recollection of October 5th 1858 ?1858-60
Oil on canvas
support: 635 x 889 mm frame: 950 x 1200 x 125 mm
painting

Tate, London



William Dyce (1806 - 1864)
Pegwell Bay 1857
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions: 24.4 x 34.4cm
Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Appears to represent a moment about half an hour earlier than the oil painting of the same subject in the Tate [above]


It is understood that Dyce and his family were familiar with the popular Victorian seaside destination in Kent.

But the painting is more than the recollection of a happy family outing - or the sighting of Donati’s comet, which was at its brightest on the day mentioned in the painting’s title.

An artist stands centre right looking at the passage of Donati’s comet.

The composition is dominated by the cliffs, which have evolved over millions of years.

Scientific advances (especially in geology) were calling into question the timescale of the Creation and history of the earth described in the Bible.

The painting is a meditation on the vastness of space (the comet) and time (the cliffs) and the relative brevity of human existence.