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Both texture and composition were important in a "correctly picturesque" scene.The texture should be "rough", "intricate", "varied" or "broken", without obvious straight lines.
In 1782, at the instigation of Mason, Gilpin published Observations on the River Wye and several parts of South Wales, etc.
relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty; made in the summer of the year 1770 (London 1782).
He was an enlightened educationalist, instituting a system of fines rather than corporal punishment and encouraging the boys to keep gardens and in-school shops.
His broad intention was to promote "uprightness and utility" and give his pupils "a miniature of the world they were afterwards to enter." Gilpin stayed at Cheam until 1777, when he moved with his wife Margaret to become Vicar of Boldre in the New Forest in Hampshire.
He was succeeded at Cheam by his son, another William Gilpin.
William Gilpin died at Boldre, Hampshire, on 5 April 1804 and was buried there on 13 April.Gilpin was born in Cumberland, the son of Captain John Bernard Gilpin, a soldier and amateur artist.From an early age he was an enthusiastic sketcher and collector of prints, but while his brother Sawrey Gilpin became a professional painter, William opted for a career in the church, graduating from Queen's College, Oxford in 1748.In the same work he criticises John Dyer's description of the view from Grongar Hill for describing a distant object in too much detail.Such passages were easy pickings for satirists such as Jane Austen, as she demonstrated in Northanger Abbey and many of her other novels and works.During the late 1760s and 1770s Gilpin travelled extensively in the summer holidays and applied these principles to the landscapes he saw, committing his thoughts and spontaneous sketches to notebooks.Gilpin's tour journals circulated in manuscript to friends, such as the poet William Mason, and a wider circle including Thomas Gray, Horace Walpole and King George III.Some extra help from the artist, perhaps in the form of a carefully placed tree, was usually required.In contrast to other contemporary travel writers, such as Thomas Pennant, Gilpin included little history, and few facts or anecdotes.Ultimately, these grand theories of wild natural beauty gave way to the tamer and more commercialised picturesque of the mid-19th century.But Gilpin's works remained popular and several new editions, with additions by John Heaviside Clark, appeared.