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Sir Thomas Monnington:
Design for the ceiling of the Mary Harris Memorial Chapel of Holy Trinity, University of Exeter, 1956

Framed (ref: 5479)

Oil on board
49 x 123 cm (19 3/8 x 48 1/2 in.)


 


Provenance: Evelyn Monnington;
Exhibited: The Fine Art Society, 1997, no. 134;
Literature: British Murals & Decorative Painting 1920-60,
Samson & Co, 2013, pp.310-325

The Mary Harris Memorial Chapel of Holy Trinity was
designed by Vincent Harris R.A. (architect of the Bristol
Council House) in memory of his mother. He commissioned
Monnington to paint the 112 x 28 ft ceiling in 1956. Monnington’s
assistants Scott Medd and W.B. (Peter) Lowe took 11 months
to execute the designs. Lowe recalls: ‘Tom maintained that it
was difficult to draw angels in the twentieth-century, and was
comforted by the enduring qualities of geometry and light.
The design, based on simple geometry, was visualised as
over-lapping webs of transparent light extending into and partly
veiling the mysteries of space’.
‘The ceilings at Bristol and Exeter have matured well – unlike the
earlier St Stephens Hall – and can safely be hailed as twentiethcentury
masterpieces, and the studies for them, prepared with the
precision and patience of a master, appear today both strong
and vital.’ (Peyton Skipwith, Thomas Monnington, published by
Paul Liss in association with The Fine Art Society, 1997, p.9.)