Leigh Tor Rocks at Poundsgate, near New Bridge on the Dart, Devon, 1800. John White Abbott (British, 1763-1851). Watercolor with pen and black ink and traces of graphite underdrawing; sheet: 17.9 x 26.9 cm (7 1/16 x 10 9/16 in.); image: 16 x 24.7 cm (6 5/16 x 9 3/4 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Painting and Drawing Society of The Cleveland Museum of Art 2005.200
This closely observed watercolor was made in Dartmoor-an expanse of moorland in southwest England capped with a series of more than 100 exposed granite hilltops known as "tors," ranging from the monolithic to the nondescript. Abbott chose a low vantage point that accentuated the looming immensity of the outcrop in whose shelter a herd of cows has converged. Almost austere in its lack of superfluous detail, this small sheet suggests the untamed quality of the Devon moors. The magic of the watercolor lies in its simplicity, clarity, and use of sparkling color.