Sir Walter Scott's novel Peveril of the Peak was published in 1823. The story is set during the period of the Popish Plot of 1678, when there was a revival of bitter political feeling. The lovers' parents, Sir Geoffrey Peveril, a cavalier and Major Ralph Bridgenorth, a Puritan, are neighboring landowners in Derbyshire. Sir Geoffrey's son Julian and Ralph Bridgenorth's daughter Alice are involved in a clandestine relationship, which is threatened when the Popish Plot divides their families. The present drawing shows Julian Peveril and Alice Bridgenorth surprised by her father. The novel ends with the King prevailing upon the two fathers to end their feud and consent to their children's marriage.
The present drawing was probably commissioned by the publisher Cadell in 1826, together with the frontispiece to Vol. XXIX (see Noon, op.cit., no. 335). Ensom, who engraved the works, was a student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and along with James Roberts and Alexandre-Marie Colin, one of Bonington's earliest acquaintances. Bonington and Colin stayed with Ensom when they visited England in 1825.
Signature: Signed with initials 'RPB' (lower right) and with inscription and number 'Peveril of the Peak/R.P. Bonnington [sic]/7' ( verso)
P. Noon, Richard Parkes Bonington: the complete paintings, New Haven, 2008, p. 376, no. 334.
(Probably) Edward Vernon Utterson (1777-1836); Christie's, London, 24 February 1857, part of lot 717 (4 gns to the Marquis of Lansdowne.)
Mrs Sara Austen; Christie's, London, 11 April 1889, lot 45 (33 gns to Vokins).
Joseph Clark, and thence by descent to
J.H. Clark; Christie's, London, 6 November 1973, lot 144.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 10 July 1984, lot 199.