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Historic vista that’s still visible today
This is a view of York Minster that will be familiar to anyone today. The difference is in the details.
The large pinnacle on the South Transept roof in Mackenzie’s painting has long been removed. But since his day, the crenellated turrets which flank the Rose Window have been converted to pinnacles themselves.
This was to “make them more in keeping with Dean Duncombe’s idea of what a Gothic cathedral should look like,” writes Peter Brown in his catalogue to the Views of York exhibition at Fairfax House, where this painting is on loan from York Art Gallery.
Mackenzie had trained as a topographical draughtsman, and you can perhaps see elements of that training in the clear lines of this painting.
This painting is likely to have been completed soon after the Minster fire of 1840 – a disaster which had struck for the second time in eleven years, but which on this occasion was an accident rather than arson.
What is particularly striking about this painting is the width of the street in front of the Minster – and then “ghostly” horse-drawn carriage in the foreground, through which you can see the stonework behind.
• The Views of York exhibition runs at Fairfax House until August 31