Artist Sir Thomas Monnington: Design for the ceiling of the Mary Harris Memorial Chapel, (pale ground) University of Exeter, (1956

Artist Sir Thomas Monnington (1902-1976): Design for the ceiling of the Mary Harris Memorial Chapel, (pale ground) University of Exeter, (1956

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Sir Thomas Monnington (1902-1976):
Design for the ceiling of the Mary Harris Memorial Chapel, (pale ground) University of Exeter, (1956
Framed (ref: 1176)
Oil on board
17 1/4x 48 in. (43.7 x 122 cm)

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Provenance: Evelyn Monnington

Exhibited: The Fine Art Society, 1997, no. 134; The British School at Rome, 1997; Exeter Museum and Art Gallery.
Literature: British Murals & Decorative Painting 1920-60,
Samson & Co, 2013, pp.310-325


The Mary Harris Memorial Chapel of Holy Trinity was designed by Vincent Harris R.A. (architect of the Bristol Council House) in memory of his mother. 
He commissioned Monnington to paint the 112 x 28 ft ceiling in 1956. 
Monnington’s assistants Scott Medd and W.B. (Peter) Lowe took 11 months to execute the designs. Lowe recalls: ‘Tom maintained that it was difficult to draw angels in the twentieth-century, and was comforted by the enduring qualities of geometry and light.

The design, based on simple geometry, was visualised as over-lapping webs of transparent light extending into and partly veiling the mysteries of space’. ‘The ceilings at Bristol and Exeter have matured well – unlike the earlier St Stephens Hall – and can safely be hailed as twentiethcentury masterpieces, and the studies for them, prepared with the precision and patience of a master, appear today both strong and vital.’ (Peyton Skipwith, Thomas Monnington, published by Paul Liss in association with The Fine Art Society, 1997, p.9.)