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Views of York...
IT is night time at Marygate landing in this wonderfully atmospheric 1826 painting by Henry Gastineau. Late the hour may be, but there are still signs of activity.
“The colliers are unloading their cargo into horse-drawn carts,” 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.
“In the middle distance a glimmer of light from Lendal Tower suggests that Smeaton’s engine (a water-pumping engine designed by John Smeaton to pump over 10,000 gallons of water an hour for the use of the people and city of York) was still pumping water.”
Even the city corporation was still in session. “Light shines out from the council chamber at the Guildhall further down the river,” Mr Brown notes.
What really catches the eye in this wonderful painting however, are the two figures – one standing, one seated – in the small boat in the centre of the river.
Despite the activity of the colliers on the Marygate bank, these two seem alone and still upon the waters, drinking in the reflected moonlight and the peace of the night. Beautiful.
• The Views of York exhibition runs at Fairfax House until August 31. To find out more, visit the York Civic Trust website, yorkcivictrust.co.uk
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