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  • In the last decades of the eighteenth century, the vogue for the Picturesque reshaped the conventions of topographical drawing; new aesthetic and sensory concerns were grafted onto its longstanding informational role. The straightforward presentation of antiquaries by the Bucks was replaced in the watercolors of Thomas Hearne, Michael Rooker, and Edward Dayes by images carefully calculated to enhance sublime or picturesque qualities of the site. In place of the distant "prospects" that were a Buck specialty, these artists took the viewer right into the fashionable precincts of the city or created far-off atmospheric vistas that provided a sense of the grandeur or the metropolis without enumerating its landmarks. From the late 1780s Michael Rooker undertook a series of autumn sketching tours through England and Wales. The Chapel of the Greyfriars Monastery, Winchester probably derives from one of these tours, although a painting by Rooker of a Winchester scene dated 1779 indicates an earlier visit to the city. Rooker's watercolor style, which downplays the outline and emphasizes textures of stone and tile and foliage through a mosaic of touches of the brush, is quintessentially Picturesque. His inclination to situate ruins like those of the Greyfriars Monastery with a framework of everyday activities, in this case a respite from haymaking imparts an almost cozy familiarity rather than melancholy grandeur to his watercolors or ancient monuments.
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  • ...
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  • Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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  • The Chapel of the Greyfriars Monastery, Winchester
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