George Corson, St James Church, Ewhurst, Sussex - 1854 pen & ink drawing


An original 1854 pen & ink drawing, George Corson St James Church, Ewhurst, Sussex.

A fine pen and ink drawing by distinguished Leeds architect George Corson (1829-1910). Scottish-born Corson was responsible for some of the most impressive municipal buildings of the Victorian era in the city of Leeds. This drawing shows the parish church at Ewhurst Green, which is dedicated to St James the Great. The church dates from the Norman period and has an unusually shaped spire.

Initialled, dated and inscribed lower left.
In good condition for its age. The picture may have minor imperfections, such as slight marks, toning, foxing, creasing or pinholes, commensurate with age. Please see photos for detail.
12.5cm x 17.8cm.

This picture forms part of a collection of works that we have for sale by George Corson (1829-1910), Leeds’ premier architect. Corson was responsible for the Central Library building (‘the municipal palace’ as it was called), with its spectacular Tiled Hall, the magnificent Grand Theatre, and numerous distinguished houses, offices, and commercial buildings around Leeds.

The pictures in this collection span some forty years of Corson’s life and evidence an enduring interest in both the man-made environment and the natural landscape - from his early interest in architecture in his native Dumfriesshire, to observations around Yorkshire, views in the Lake District, and further afield around the south of England and Brittany in France.

Born in Dumfries in Scotland, George Corson is thought to have descended from the medieval Italian architect Corsini (the name changing to Corsane). His ancestor John Corsane was Provost of Dumfries 1618-21 and was one of the richest commoners in Scotland. George Corson’s parents were James Corson of Cassylands and Stakeford, Provost of Dumfries 1831-22, and his wife Janet Reid from Kirkennan, Kirkcudbrightshire. His maternal great-uncle was the artist Alexander Reid of Kirkennan (1747-1823), who is most famous for his portrait of Robert Burns (in the National Galleries of Scotland), believed to be the best likeness of the poet. It appears that Reid’s topographical accuracy and exacting style had some influence on Corson (there is a watercolour view of Edinburgh after Reid in this collection) and perhaps through Reid and his association with the Romantics, Corson was inspired to complete a number of Lake District subjects.

After an education at Dumfries Academy, George joined his brother William in the offices of the architect Walter Newall around 1844. In 1849 he moved to Leeds where William had established a partnership with Edward La Trobe Bateman, which in 1860 passed into George’s full control after William and Bateman both moved on to other practices.

George Corson had a hugely successful practice in churches, warehouses, insurance offices and breweries proving himself equally adept in Ruskinian Romanesque, gothic, Italian Renaissance and Scottish baronial. He won some of the most important and recognisable public commissions in Leeds - including Roundhay Park (1873), Leeds Municipal and School Board offices (1876) and the Leeds Infirmary extension (1891) - and became the first president of the Leeds Architectural Society when it was founded in 1876.

His greatest success came in 1880 when he won the competition for Glasgow Municipal Buildings, in association with his brother, and on the assumption that he would be commissioned to build it and open a Glasgow office, he built a Scottish holiday house Carn Dearg at Gairloch, Wester Ross in that year - paintings of which are in this collection.

Interestingly, this collection also evidences a friendship between George Corson and the Yorkshire watercolour artist Thomas Sutcliffe (1828-1871) - and includes pictures of Sutcliffe sketching. Sutcliffe lived at Headingley in Leeds, and later Whitby, and his eldest son was the pioneering photographer Francis Meadow Sutcliffe.

Corson lived at various imposing Victorian residences in the Headingley, where he died in 1910 aged eight-one.

Text copyright © 2019 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

Product code: JN-340

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