A view in Canterbury

George Vincent

English ( b.1796 - d. circa 1836 )

A view in Canterbury

  • Oil on canvas

Image size 24.4 inches x 29.5 inches ( 62cm x 75cm )
Frame size 32.3 inches x 37.4 inches ( 82cm x 95cm )

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Sold by Big Sky Fine Art; this original oil painting by George Vincent , dating from around the 1820s.
The painting is presented and supplied in its original ornate frame. The frame has some minor losses. The painted surface has some scattered retouching here and there.
Previously with Newhouse Galleries, New York.

George Vincent was a British artist, famous for his magnificent landscapes and skies. He was born in Norwich on 27th June 1796, the son of James Vincent, a cloth manufacturer.

He was educated at the Norwich grammar school, and at the age of 15 became apprenticed to John Crome, later known as “Old Crome”.
John Crome was one of the finest English landscape painters who was the founder and inspiration of the Norwich School, the first of many artists’ groups that sprang up countrywide in the nineteenth century. Cromes’ three most important and accomplished students were his son, John Berney Crome, James Stark and George Vincent. These three artists became close friends, travelled together and consequently influenced each other’s work. It has been said that of these Vincent was the most accomplished.

Vincent had a short stay in London before returning to Norwich in 1815, and becoming a member of the Norwich Society until 1831.

From his late teens he began to contribute to the Norwich exhibitions, then regularly to the Royal Academy, the Water Colour Exhibitions and the British Institute. He also contributed to the Suffolk Street Gallery from its foundation in 1824-30.

He visited Paris in 1816 and by 1818 he was living in London again and was admitted as a student in the school attached to the British Institute in Pall Mall. In 1819 he travelled around Scotland and in 1822 he married and bought himself a good house in Camden Town, partly on the strength of his wife’s supposed prosperity. However, despite his obvious talent and the success of his exhibited works his situation deteriorated. It is said that he “fell into bad habits”. His income and her wealth must not have lived up to expectation as by 1824 he had left Camden for a smaller studio and in December 1824 he was imprisoned for debt in the Fleet Prison. He remained there until February 1827. Whilst in prison he was permitted to continue painting and from there he produced a number of smaller works.

Vincent last exhibited in 1831, after which he seems to have mysteriously disappeared. 1831 is thus sometimes given as the date of his death – although he has also been quoted as dying in Bath in 1832. However, records in the British Museum indicate that he inherited part of his father’s estate in 1833, so it is likely that he died in the mid 1830s. A majority consensus is that he died in 1836.
Although the period in which he flourished was relatively short lived his works between around 1819-1828 show a quality that outpaces his Norwich School contemporaries and earnt him the respect of distinguished collectors such as James Wadmore and Lord de Tabley, Turner’s patron, both of whom purchased his works.

Whilst some of his earlier works can rightly be regarded as masterpieces, the quality of his later works declined, no doubt financially compromised. Nevertheless, his best works display a talent to rival the great landscape painters of his day and he is regarded as one of the foremost painters of the Norwich School, which was itself an important and influential movement in English art.

His most important work was “A View of Greenwich Hospital”, which was commissioned by the British Museum and was shown in the International Exhibition of 1862. He often signed his paintings with a monogram comprised of his initials.

The best quality works by George Vincent are today relatively rare, but this example should rank among them. Similar works are held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Nottingham Castle Art Gallery, Southampton City Art Gallery and several other major provincial public collections.

A rural scene of English idyll, with the ancient city of Canterbury, Kent, in the background. The dominant feature is the magnificent grey stone Canterbury Cathedral which graces the skyline. It is one of the oldest and most famous Christian buildings in England. Before it lies a cluster of red roofed whitewashed town houses. In the middle ground are three horses, one white and two brown, pulling a cart full of hay (a fully laden hay wain) upon which three figures recline. In the foreground, there is a stream or pond with a half a dozen ducks on or around it. There are majestic trees on both sides of the unmade track and white billowing clouds race across the pale blue sky.