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Thomas Gambier-Parry

(1816—1888) benefactor and art collector


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(1816–88). English painter and collector who lived at Highnam Court (Glos.). He was an active member of the Cambridge Camden Society, founded to promote the restoration of old churches and encourage the building of new ones on sound ecclesiological principles, and himself initiated the erection of the parish church of the Holy Innocents at Highnam (1849–51) by his friend Henry Woodyer (1816–96), which he then decorated with his own medieval-style wall paintings (1866–8). Gambier-Parry played a major role in the 19th-century revival of mural painting and invented a technique called Spirit Fresco which was suitable for the English climate. It substituted a concoction of organic media for the irreversible chemical process of carbonation in buon fresco, which required rigorous planning and offered a more limited palette and which had already proved a failure in the decoration of the Palace of Westminster. Gambier-Parry's system of wall painting (‘Wallpainting versus English Climate’) was first published in the Ecclesiologist (June 1862) and he himself applied it not only at Highnam but also at Gloucester Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, and Tewkesbury Abbey. He also made an important collection of early Italian art; paintings, sculpture, majolica, ivories, glass, and enamels. Most of these acquisitions were made, during travel to Italy, from dealers such as W. B. Spence in Florence. The collection was bequeathed to the Courtauld Institute Gallery, London.

From The Oxford Companion to Western Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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