Monday, October 4, 2010

Picture of the Week No.35 - Cotman & Holland

Over the weekend I caught a fascinating programme on the BBC iPlayer called  'Churches: How to Read Them'. As someone whose university days featured several illuminating and entertaining architecture walks where we were prompted to name various features of buildings, or to try and work out the various ages of different parts of churches, this took me back and gave me a big of hit of those Gothic and Early English styles, which I have come to admire. They remind me also of William Burges, who was such a imaginative yet scholarly applier of 11th and 12th century Gothic details in his Revivalist designs, and who our own VP has been studying for future displays here at the Cecil Higgins.

For Picture of the Week this week I've selected two detailed views of eclesiastical architecture that show different periods of church design. The first, by John Sell Cotman depicts a Romanesque archway in Norwich Cathedral, which was built between 1096-c.1140, when Bishop Herbertwanted to move the centre of religious power in East Anglia from Thetford to Norwich. The subject of James Holland's study is the Edward the Confessor Chapel at Westminster Abbey. The Abbey has been substantially altered since Edward the Confessor started the current building (although not the first abbey on the site) in 1065, with Henry III rebuilding much including the Chapel to the Confessor in the "French Style" - later named Gothic in the Reanissance. The iconic Great West Towers we built betwee1722 and 1745 by Nicholas Hawksmoor in an early example of a Gothic Revival design. KP

JOHN SELL COTMAN (1782-1842)
The Interior of the Nave, Norwich Cathedral, c.1807

watercolour and black lead on paper, 33.1 x 22.1 cm
Acession No. P.695

This is one of a series of about ten drawings Cotman made of the interior of Norwich Cathedral.

Painted c.1807, this shows the pillars on the northern side immediately west of the organ screen, seen from the centre of the nave. The tomb is that of Sir James Hobart, now almost hidden by pews.

The 1982-3 catalogue (see below) comments: ‘Nothing shows more clearly Cotman’s artistic power at this time than the way this rather ungainly corner of the Cathedral became the vehicle for one of the most poetic interior pieces he ever did’.EJ

PROVENANCE: Acquired from the artist by Rev. James Bulwer, then by descent; Walker’s Galleries Ltd.; 1926 bought by Sydney Kitson; Elisabeth and Alice Barbara Kitson, given to Gallery, May 1973.

EXHIBITIONS: John Sell Cotman (The Bulwer Collection), London, Walker’s Galleries Ltd., 1926, no.8; Oxford, Oxford Art Club, 1928, catalogue not traced; Twee Eeuwem Engelse Kunst, Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, 1936, no.181; Watercolour Drawings by J.R.Cozens and J.S.Cotman, Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, 1937, no.32; The English Tradition: an exhibition of watercolours from two private collections, Bedford, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, 1972, no.18; John Sell Cotman, London, V&A, Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery and Bristol, Bristol City Art Gallery, 1982-3, no.62

REFERENCES: S. Kitson, The Life of John Sell Cotman, 1937, p.107, pl.43; M. Pidgley, John Sell Cotman’s Patrons and The Romantic Subject Pictures in the 1820s and 1830s, 1975, p.79, no.252; L. Herrmann, Nineteenth Century British Painting, 2000, p.51. fig.36.

JAMES HOLLAND (1799-1870)
Edward the Confessor’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey, 1834

pencil and watercolour on paper, 26.3 x 17.5 cm, inscribed: J.Holland 1834
Accession No.P.349
 This drawing was formerly thought to depict Canterbury Cathedral.

This is a watercolour sketch for either the oil painting Part of St.Edward’s Chapel with the tombs of Edward III and his Queen Phillippa, exhibited at the Society of British Artists in 1835, or for another version, also an oil, exhibited at the British Institution in 1835 entitled St.Edward’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey.

Rebuilt by Edward the Confessor c.1050-65, Westminster Abbey is the earliest example of the Norman Style in England. The Confessor’s shrine was commissioned by Henry III before he began the new abbey in 1241.EJ/CB

PROVENANCE: W.G. Walford; P&D Colnaghi Ltd, from whom purchased by Gallery, July 1960.

EXHIBITIONS: James Holland Bi-Centennial Exhibition, Stoke-on-Trent, The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, 1999, no cat.

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