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Press release

Capturing the Castle: Watercolours of Windsor by Paul and Thomas Sandby

Release date: Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Twenty views of Windsor Castle by the great 18th-century watercolourists Paul and Thomas Sandby go on display at the Castle from 7 February.  Created from the 1760s to the 1790s, they provide a fascinating insight into life at Windsor during the reign of George III (1760–1820), who used the Castle as an occasional country retreat for his growing family. The drawings will be displayed alongside a number of early guidebooks, showing what visitors to Windsor would have experienced some 250 years ago.  Twenty-first-century visitors can use a free app to explore the 18th-century views and compare them with the appearance of the Castle today.

'The father of English watercolour', Paul Sandby (1730–1809) and his older brother Thomas (1721–98) were among the founding members of the Royal Academy under the patronage of George III in 1768.  They sometimes worked together, with Paul Sandby adding figures to his older brother's landscapes. 

Thomas Sandby was Draughtsman to William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, and came to Windsor in 1746 following the Duke's appointment as Ranger of Windsor Great Park.  After Paul's arrival in Windsor a few years later, the brothers set about producing views of the Castle from numerous angles and viewpoints, creating an unrivalled visual record of the building and surrounding area. 

During this period the Castle became a popular tourist destination – the Precincts were open to the public, and access to the State Apartments was granted upon application to the Housekeeper.  The Sandby watercolours show the informality of daily life around the Castle in the mid-18th century.  They record soldiers chatting idly with the townsfolk, street traders hawking their wares, and elegantly dressed visitors strolling on the North Terrace, from where they could admire the views across the Thames Valley.
The watercolours also document the appearance of the Castle before the major remodelling of the building by George III's son, George IV, in the 1820s.  In Paul Sandby's view of the Quadrangle, from around 1765, the Round Tower appears significantly lower than it is today.  Sixty-five years later it was heightened by some nine metres (30ft), and given gothic-style battlements and a flag turret, creating Windsor's now world-famous skyline. 

Capturing the Castle: Watercolours of Windsor by Paul and Thomas Sandby is at The Drawings Gallery, Windsor Castle, 7 February – 5 May 2014.

The free 'Capturing Windsor Castle' app will be available in February. 

A selection of images is available from  For further information and photographs, please contact the Royal Collection Trust Press Office, +44 (0)20 7839 1377, [email protected].