Moving Day – 15th February 1768
Own this Original painting by David Purvis by Auction
Starting bids at £250
Final bids to be taken on 30th April 2018
Leave your bid and contact details on our bid form in the Museum Shop
or send in by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
‘How do you portray something that happened 250 years ago? How do you describe and depict it if there are no references – no photos, no paintings, no drawings or etchings?
250 years ago in 1768 William Cowper the celebrated 18th century poet finally took Orchard Side House in Olney, (now known as the Cowper and Newton Museum) as his new home. His friendship with the Rev John Newton, former slave trade ship captain, curate of St. Peter & St. Paul’s Olney and in his later life abolitionist, led to a writing partnership from which came the Olney Hymns, the most famous today being ‘Amazing Grace’.
Following a chance conversation with House Manager Paula Noble, I suggested producing a painting to help recreate the event and to enable the museum to present and publicise this significant piece of Olney’s Georgian history.
My first step was to understand the key characters involved in the 18th century event and with a morning’s help in the museum looking at portraits and artefacts from the period, I could gradually build up an impression of the event: details included portraiture, dress, headgear and modes of transport.
The painting needed to focus on the Museum, William Cowper and John Newton, as well as including Mrs Unwin and her daughter Susanna’s arrival together with their luggage, belongings and a helpful servant. Much on-line research gave a few clues, but ‘Poldark’ references really helped.
After much deliberation and discussion about views across the Market Place, I decided on a viewpoint that majored on the Museum, with Newton and Cowper prominently in the foreground and looking west towards what is now Janey’s with its famous Olney crooked window. The general positioning and shape of all the buildings hasn’t changed (with the exception of a popular coffee house branded building).
It’s a cold winter’s morning, the early frost has turned to meltwater and the watery sun adds little warmth to the Market Place – it’s Monday, February 15th 1768 in Olney…’
You can find out more about how John & William met and the reasons William and Mary Unwin, his life long companion, came to live in Olney here
More of David’s local and motoring art at can be found at www.olneyart.co.uk