George Pyne (1800 – 1884)

Peckwater Quad, Christ Church, Oxford



27.5 x 17.5 cm

Signed and dated 1849.

A marvellous view of the Peckwater Quadrangle, more affectionately referred to as Peck Quad and known for having arguably the best undergraduate rooms in all of Oxford. The buildings on the north, east and west sides of the quad were designed by Henry Aldrich are one of the earliest examples of English neo-Palladian architecture. They were built by William Townsend between 1706 and 1711, while the Library on the south side was completed later in the eighteenth century.

Peck looks rather different today – it is now mostly filled with lawn and hosts Christ Church’s extremely large Christmas tree each year. In Pyne’s day it was lawnless and filled with elegant pedestrians in nineteenth-century costume; in this view, afternoon light slants down over the buildings, and the lengthening shadows cast by the library creep into the quad.

George Pyne was related to two founders of the Society of Painters in Watercolours – William Henry Pyne was his father, and John Varley his father-in-law. Pyne trained as an architectural draughtsman and lived in Oxford from the 1850s until his death in 1884, specialising in views of the city and its colleges. His Oxford pictures are both architecturally-minded and romantically creative, often combining intensely detailed depictions of college buildings with imagined pedestrian scenes.

Pyne was also noted for his views of Cambridge and Eton, and for his drawing manuals ‘A Rudimentary and Practical Treatise on Perspective for Beginners’ (1848) and ‘Practical Rules on Drawing for the Operative Builder, and Young Student in Architecture’ (1854); the latter texts offer an insight into his method of depicting architecture and its surroundings.

Condition: very good.

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