Later Finished Work

6.1 Loches, Rev J L Petit


1854, 27x37cm, watercolour on paper

Petit returns to an important church for him in 1854, after writing a whole chapter on it in his book, Architectural Studies in France. Only this time it is one of his most atmospheric pictures. Accurate, despite no architectural detail, the point is to capture the ‘effect’ of the church. Shown at the end of Petit’s Tours of Old Staffordshire.

6.2 Lichfield, Rev J L Petit


1857, 27x37cm, watercolour on paper, private collection

Lichfield was Petit’s main home from 1851 until 1868, and he returned there for some months even in years when he travelled a lot. He drew Lichfield Cathedral over 100 times in later years, from every angle, as he seemed to use it to try out different styles and effects and also perhaps for relaxation. Even just the 30-40 that have survived represent the most astonishing study of a cathedral in the UK, and show Petit’s virtuosity as an artist.

6.3 Pierrefit, SW France, Rev J L Petit (1801-68),


c1858, 17x25cm, watercolour on paper, private collection

Other exceptional groups do exist from the later years. This is an example from a small album used occasionally during 1858 and his trip from south west France into Spain and Morocco. During the same period Petit continued to draw the usual architectural sketches daily. Hence one may assume it is a rare example of a drawing done as a work of art in this period.

6.4 Huddlesford Mill nr Lichfield, 1855

1857, 27x37cm, watercolour on paper, private collection

1855 was one of the coldest winters on record. Petit went out on at least 5 occasions to capture everyday snow scenes, with its peculiar light, such as this. Such an interest in unadorned nature was unusual at this time and foreshadows later continental artists. In the UK at this time the Pre-Raphaelites pursued carefully composed studio works with historical themes.

6.5 Welsh Mountain view, Rev J L Petit

1860, 27x37cm, watercolour on paper, private collection

Petit frequently visited North Wales from 1860 onwards as he was commissioned to design the church at Caerdeon near Barmouth. When not working on that he would paint the beautiful hills in his typical impressionistic way.

6.6 Near Bumblekyte, Upper Longdon, Staffs, Rev J L Petit

1867, 38x28cm, watercolour on paper, private collection

In the second to last year of his life, aged 67, Petit was still experimenting. This picture is drawn with bolder dappled brushstrokes, for a different effect than previous work. Far different from exotic views of distant famous places, this is the lane at the bottom of the garden of his summerhouse outside Lichfield. 

6.7 Kubb Elias, Lebanon, Rev J L Petit

1865, 26x37cm, watercolour on paper, private collection

Petit’s journey to Egypt and Syria in 1865 is remarkable for its art, and his return to a far more colourful pallette. Sadly most of these pictures have not survived. Many Middle Eastern pictures sold in the last 20 years are by his sisters who accompanied him, see 10.7 in the circle display here.

6.8 Cat And Chicken, B’kyte, Staffs, Rev J L Petit


1868, 26x37cm, watercolour on paper, The Ian Cooke collection

So far about 10 drawings of Petit’s pets have been found, and the total is likely to be less than 25, all in the last years of his life. While there is no background, the accuracy and care in the drawings of animals shows that Petit was far more than just a painter of architecture and shipping. Seven of these are in the Ian Cooke collection (see essay)

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