Westminster Abbey in Watercolor

British artist Alexander Creswell takes us behind the gates of Westminster Abbey for a view few ever get in colorful, light-filled watercolors.

“The Henry VII Chapel, Westminster Abbey” (watercolor, 35 x 40 in.) © Dean & Chapter of Westminster

Known for his deft depictions of historic buildings, British watercolorist Alexander Creswell focused on deteriorated British country houses in his first architectural series. In 1992, HM Queen Elizabeth II commissioned him to depict the charred spaces of Windsor Castle, then to show them magnificently restored just five years later.

Alexander Creswell, “The Quire, Westminster Abbey,” (watercolor, 22 x 30 in.) © Dean & Chapter of Westminster

For the past six years, Creswell has been permitted unprecedented access to paint any part of London’s medieval Westminster Abbey that interests him, even those behind locked gates. In 2011, he recorded — from a balcony high above — the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton (now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge).

Alexander Creswell, “Tombs in St Nicholas’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey,” (watercolor, 22 x 15 in.) © Dean & Chapter of Westminster

Through May 16, 2018, visitors to the Abbey’s octagonal Chapter House in London will have the opportunity to view 38 of Creswell’s works, including sketches, sketchbooks, and a maquette from the Royal Wedding project. Among his subjects is the triforium, a space 70 feet above the Abbey’s main floor, hidden from public view for more than 700 years. Later this year, it will be relaunched at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, displaying hundreds of treasures associated with the Abbey and offering magnificent views of the nearby Houses of Parliament.

All profits from Creswell’s “Glimpses of Eternity” art exhibition, and from the Scala book that accompanies it, will benefit the Jubilee Galleries project.

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