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The Canterbury Gate, Christ Church, Oxford

George Pyne (1800-1884)


Watercolour with pencil

8 ½ x 12 ¼ inches

'Chris Beetles Summer Show 2017', No 30

Resident in Oxford from the 1850s, George Pyne lived latterly, until his death in 1884, at 7 Christ Church Buildings, a row of tenements built by Christ Church in 1866, in the St Thomas’s area. During his three decades in the city, he produced many evocative images of the colleges, of which the present examples are characteristic.

Christ Church, Oxford, is a unique institution, in that it combines a college of the university and a cathedral. In 1525, Cardinal Wolsey suppressed the Priory of St Frideswide and founded Cardinal College on its lands. When he fell from grace, Henry VIII refounded it, in 1532, as King Henry VIII’s College, and then, in 1546, refounded it again as Christ Church, as part of the reorganisation of the Church of England. From that time, it increased steadily in scale and influence.

Canterbury Quad and its entrance gate were built on the site of Canterbury College, a monastic college founded in 1363, and acquired by Christ Church following the dissolution of the monasteries in the late 1530s. The architect, James Wyatt, designed both gate and quadrangle early in his career, during the decade 1773-83. Reginald Turnor has described the gate as ‘a Doric essay in Burford stone’ (
James Wyatt, 1746-1813, London: Art and Technics, 1950, page 57), while John Steven Watson has called it ‘solidly splendid’ (The Reign of George III, 1760-1815, Oxford University Press, 1960, page 545).

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