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Art in the Museum
Newly Acquired Paintings by Durham Born Artist George Fennell Robson

George Fennell Robson (1788-1833) was born in Durham and baptized in St. Mary-le-Bow church. His mother's gravestone is among those in Durham Museum garden. Taught to draw in Durham, he became a celebrated artist in London.

Robson exhibited at the Royal Academy and published a print of Durham in 1808. His watercolour paintings of the Scottish Highlands were published as a book. On a return visit to North-East England, George Fennell Robson contracted food poisoning in Stockton on Tees and subsequently died. He is buried in St Mary-le-Bow. His monument is in the chancel of the former church that now houses Durham Museum.

Durham Museum displays two paintings by George Fennell Robson, donated by a descendant of the artist. The first is a self-portrait, likely depicting his Presidency of the Society of Oils and Watercolours in 1813.

The second painting is a copy of the 1801 painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence (now in Tate Britain) of the actor John Kemble as Hamlet. The Kemble family played Shakespeare roles on the Durham stage, in the Georgian theatre on Durham's Drury Lane off Saddler Street.

Durham Museum's paintings by George Fennell Robson has been conserved with the aid of a grant from the AIM Pilgrim Trust Conservation Scheme.


Sculptures by Fenwick Lawson

In the Museum Garden, there are two important works by internationally renowned local sculptor, Fenwick Lawson.

The first work is a sculpture called 'Cuthbert of Farne'. Fenwick carved this striking work in elm in 1984 and gave it to the Museum in 2004. There is also a bronze cast of this sculpture on display at the Abbey on Lindisfarne. You can see a close-up of part of this work on the right.

Fenwick's second work is called 'Gaia'. It represents the Greek goddess of the Earth. This work was also carved in 1984 and was presented it to the Museum in 2011. Fenwick can be seen standing next to 'Gaia' in the image on the left.

A new donation by Fenwick is now on display inside the Museum. The subject of this work is the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with an angel. The image below shows the work in place.

Jacob wrestling with an angel by Fenwick Lawson.