News item from 2010

St Botolphs Church

A new drawing for the Ashmolean’s collection

As one of the foremost English printmakers in the first half of the twentieth century, Griggs was also an important influence on younger artists such as Graham Sutherland and Paul Drury.

The drawing is a study of St Botolph's Church, Boston, Lincs, and was made in preparation for one of Griggs's most widely admired etchings, St Botolph's, Boston. Griggs had made drawings of Lincolnshire for the Highways and Byways series in 1912-14, and naturally returned there when he was making a series of etchings of the larger English churches in the 1920s. He described St Botolph's, the largest parish church in England, as 'three hundred feet of noblest English Architecture upreared above the fens'. His studies for the etching, and the first state of the print itself, showed the church 'in a very devil-made storm', and so it appears in the drawing newly acquired by the Ashmolean. Later, he had second thoughts, and decided that the noble Gothic architecture would be better seen on 'one of those days in the Fens near the sea when all the objects are clear and full-coloured as they are when there's much rain about'. When he eventually completed the plate, in August 1925, he declared, 'It is somewhere round about my best, I think. I've got nearer the soil of England in it ... than ever before.'

For many years the Ashmolean has enjoyed a close relationship with the South Mercia branch of the National Association of Fine Art and Decorative Societies. For the past five years, the Society has regularly donated generous sums of money towards the restoration of the Ashmolean’s outstanding collection of antique clocks. Thanks to them all the clocks in our galleries have been restored to their original condition and are now in working order.


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