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North East View of Durham

Hearne, Thomas (1744-1817, Not known, Watercolour, 32.7 x 45.4

This picture is a splendid example of Thomas Hearne’s ability to draw topographical subjects in precise detail, whilst exhibiting great skill in the handling of watercolour. Born near Malmesbury in Wiltshire, Thomas Hearne was to become one of the founders of the English School of Watercolours. He left home to go to London, where he worked as a pastry cook before taking up a six-year apprenticeship with an engraver. Hearne then spent several years in the Leeward Islands as official artist to the Governor-General, Lord Lavington. On his return to London, Hearne established himself as one of the leading topographical artists of his day. Topographical drawings at that time were usually made using pen and ink with a grey wash, sometimes with added colour. They were often made for practical purposes such as military surveys and architectural projects. In 1777 Hearne began to make tours in Scotland and the Lake District in search of Picturesque abbeys, castles and ancient ruins. His work differed from that of previous topographical draughtsmen in that Hearne studied nature closely and invested his topographical drawings with effects of light and atmosphere that had not previously been attempted. Fifty-two of the drawings Hearne made during these tours were published in his most important work, <i>The Antiquities of Great Britain. </i> <i>North East View of Durham</i> was<i> </i>bought by the LACF in 1929.</span>