John Sell Cotman

Doorway of the Refectory, Rievaulx Abbey


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
John Sell Cotman 1782–1842
Watercolour and graphite on paper
Support: 319 × 255 mm
support, secondary: 327 × 264 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

Display caption

This watercolour was made in 1803 on the first of Cotman's visits to Yorkshire to stay with the Cholmeley family at Brandsby Hall some fifteen niles north of York. It reveals a new interest in his work in the presentation of isolated motifs, and is one of the earliest drawings to show the emergence of his distinctive watercolour style. This style, seen especially in his watercolours made on the banks of the River Greta (no.86), is characterised by the use of carefully ordered areas of flat colour. Cotman drew the famous ruined Cistercian abbey at Rievaulx near Helmsley several times on his trip to North Yorkshire in 1803. This watercolour was etched by him for the series 'Miscellaneous Etchings' (1811).

Gallery label, September 2004

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