Thomas Hearne (1744-1817)

St Mary’s Church, Great Dunmow, Essex

Hearne, Gt Dunmow
framed picture


Signed and dated l.c.: Hearne.1792, pen and grey ink and watercolour over pencil

21 x 29 cm; 8 1/4 x 11 3/8 inches

Framed in a 19 century print frame 36 x 45 cm.; 14 x 17 1/2 inches


Christie’s, London, 6 March 1973, lot 86;

The Pemberton collection, bought from the above sale, until 2019

A watercolourist, topographical draughtsman, illustrator and engraver, Hearne began his working life as an apprentice to William Woollett, a printmaker. Hearne had a lifelong interest in architecture, and this delightful bucolic depiction of Great Dunmow church exemplifies his ability to capture a landscape with a delicately limited palette within a Picturesque framework.

From 1771 Hearne spent three years in the Caribbean on the Leeward Islands as draughtsman to Sir Ralph Payne, the Governor. After his return in 1775 Hearne quickly became established as a leading architectural and topographical draughtsman.

The young Turner and Girtin copied Hearne’s work at the home of Dr Thomas Monro, the patron of the arts, where young artists gathered.

Hearne’s work can be found in most public British drawings collection notably the Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Academy.

The chancel of St Mary's is early 14th century. The porch, arcade, chancel arch, tower and south chapel were all built in the 15th century and restored in the late 19th-early 20th century. The kiln appears to be a hop kiln with a deflector plate above, but there are contemporary references to five malt houses in Dunmow in 1800 and to many maltsters, although it is not known where they all operated.

With thanks to James Bettley for his comments on this drawing.