In Focus

Mousehold Heath, Norwich c.1818–20 by John Crome

Sam Smiles

Offering new information on techniques and materials as well as contemporary accounts of the reception of the work, this In Focus explores this unfolding Norfolk landscape, seeking greater understanding of the artist’s motivations, the painting’s title and its likely date of execution.

In Focus: Mousehold Heath, Norwich by John Crome

John Crome
Mousehold Heath c.1818–20
Oil paint on canvas
1099 x 1810 mm
Tate N00689
Photography © Tate

Mousehold Heath, Norwich c.1818–20 is a large oil painting on canvas by the British artist John Crome that depicts an extensive tract of land north-east of Norwich, rising high above the city. Crome was the prime mover in the establishment of the Norwich Society of Artists in 1803, and this painting, along with depictions of Mousehold Heath by other Norwich painters, presents a landscape whose natural beauties were well known to the local audience and whose loss for the sake of agricultural improvement was keenly debated.

This project examines the picture afresh, considering Mousehold Heath as a physical environment and as a type of landscape with particular historical, social and aesthetic resonances. It looks at the varied representation of the Heath by the Norwich School and its meanings when exhibited in Norwich and beyond, and explores the technique of broad paint handling in Crome’s and others’ paintings in the early nineteenth century.

Published in March 2016, the project is authored by Sam Smiles (Emeritus Professor, University of Plymouth) and Rachel Scott (Painting Conservator, Tate).

ISBN 978-1-84976-540-4