RAMM acquires new Thomas Girtin painting
2 November 2020
RAMM has acquired an important painting by eighteenth-century artist, Thomas Girtin, entitled The interior of Exeter Cathedral, thanks to generous donations by Art Fund, Kent Kingdon Trust and the RAMM Friends.
The watercolour painting dates to 1797 and was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798. It shows a view of the choir and altar. It depicts what is the longest uninterrupted medieval vaulted ceiling in the world.
Thomas Girtin is widely recognised as one of the most influential figures in eighteenth-century British art. Like many artists and writers of the period, he was fascinated by Gothic architecture. In this work he displays consummate skill in capturing the subdued interior of the cathedral and the play of light high up on the walls.
“We are delighted that RAMM has been able to secure this beautiful painting of the cathedral. Architectural historians and archaeologists at the cathedral have consulted this image regularly; for example, we examined the image last year when changes to the area of the font were discussed. We are excited at the prospect of having access to the painting in the city itself.” – The Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter
Representing the cathedral
It is by far the most informative view that survives of the cathedral interior; it was painted before major changes were made in 1810-30. It is the only record of the colour scheme of the cathedral at this date and so is an important document capturing Georgian taste.
“We are incredibly grateful to Art Fund, The RAMM Friends and the Kent Kingdon Trust for their generous support; which has enabled us to secure this important work for the people of Exeter. The watercolour by Girtin is a wonderfully atmospheric evocation of the cathedral in the Georgian era, by one of the foremost artists of the period.” – Cllr Amal Gusain, Lead Councillor for Communities and Culture at Exeter City Council
The painting, having undergone conservation, will be displayed in our upcoming exhibition Funded With Thanks, opening next year.
“The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery is an important source of inspiration for the people of Exeter. We are delighted to support this previous winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year in acquiring a painting with such relevance to the city; at a time when the budget to build collections with major works is not available for many museums. We hope Girtin’s watercolour will be a highlight for visitors when the gallery reopens this month.” – Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund
Funded With Thanks will open at RAMM in 2021. View The Interior of Exeter Cathedral on RAMM Collections Explorer.