Views of York

Exploring York through the York Art Gallery Evelyn Collection

“The Impression grows of the Minster as an island of privilege, isolated from the city of York…”1 – Gerald Edward Aylmer

This remark on the iconic York Minster speaks to the perspective that separates the cathedral and the city. This binary has long existed in perceptions and artistic representations of the city of York and its environs. Such a view seeks to separate the York Minster, a grand medieval cathedral, from potential hardships facing the city across various points of time.

Views of York is a virtual exhibition that explores this perspective through a selection of artworks held in the Evelyn Collection at York Art Gallery, showcasing the multifaceted perceptions of the city of York and its outskirts between 1795 and 1825. Artistic depictions of York changed based on local and national attitudes, particularly because of Enclosure laws and the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15). Close looking at a series of works in the Evelyn Collection that take York as their subject reveal much more about the city than splendid views.

This exhibition offers viewers the opportunity to explore prints in the Evelyn Collection and provides art historical information. Collectively, this exhibition reveals how the idea of York and what it represents in the British imagination changed over time as a result of national and international events.

Views of York catalyzes a new tradition of thought: how do these prints facilitate our current relationship to York itself? Does our experience of York differ significantly from that of artists working in the 19th century? What conclusions can be drawn from considering the content, context and uses of these prints?

1 Gerald Edward Aylmer and Reginald Cant. A History of York Minster. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977, 209.
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The views expressed on this website are those of the author, Genevieve Stegner-Freitag, and do not reflect the opinions of the University of York, York Art Gallery or the Friends of the York Art Gallery.
All Photos: author's own with kind permission of York Museums Trust.