RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 37b
Date19th century
Extent3 large volumes
TitleJohn Gendall sketchbooks
DescriptionThe volumes are a series of sketches pasted in at a later date. They include watercolour drawings, pencil sketches, chalk and charcoal drawings of various picturesque locations at Lynmouth and Plymouth (one volume), Okehampton, Gloucester and Tintern (another), and other places (a miscellaneous volume).
Admin HistoryJohn Gendall (bap. 1791, d. 1865), watercolour painter, was baptized on 2 January 1791 at St Edmund's Church, Exeter, the son of John and Frances Gendall. When later employed as a domestic servant some of his drawings were seen in the shop of W. Cole, High Street, Exeter, by a salesman of Rudoph Ackermann, the London publisher and printseller who was later to provide him with permanent employment. About 1811 he joined Ackermann, initially in charge of artists' stock and later as a house artist. The first of his many drawings to be engraved was Great Room of Rugby published in Ackermann's Colleges and Public Schools (1816) and in that year he began to assist Ackermann in his experiments in lithography. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1818, a watercolour North-East View of Westminster Abbey, which Ackermann published as an aquatint by J. C. Stadler in a major series of London views which included Gendall's St Paul's, Westminster Hall, and The Tower of London. Ackermann also published Gendall's views of Dover and Calais (1820), the River Seine (1821), Hastings (1822), Edinburgh (1823), and fifty-eight country seats in The Repository of Arts between 1824 and 1828.

One of the leading topographical painters in pure watercolour, Gendall displayed exact draftsmanship, brilliance of colouring, and competent figure drawing in his work. He also worked in oils and in 1824 executed a fine large painting, The Thames below London Bridge, which was exhibited at the Exeter Art Exhibition. In that year he left Ackermann's employment in London and returned with his wife, Maria, née Havell, a native of Eton, whom he had married on 19 January 1824 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, to Exeter. There they resided until his death. By the end of 1825 Gendall had become a partner of W. Cole, selling paintings and drawings and executing carving, gilding, and framing. Cole's shop was at the heart of the artistic life in Exeter and Gendall, with his high professional reputation and wide commercial experience, was the ideal partner for the older Cole. Although the partnership ended with Cole's approaching retirement and financial difficulties, Gendall continued in the same line of business from 1832 in the Cathedral Yard, Exeter, where he also opened a successful art school at his own premises, Mols Coffee House. His pupils included the writer Richard Ford and the sculptor Edward Bowring Stephens. He continued to execute many private commissions, including work for Ackermann's successors, and between 1846 and 1863 at the Royal Academy he regularly exhibited views of the Devon countryside both in watercolour, and now with increasing use of gouache and oils.

Gendall played a central role in the cultural life of Exeter, and from 1862 to 1864 served as the first curator of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Towards the end of this period he was injured in a railway accident, resulting in partial paralysis of his right hand. He died on 1 March 1865 in the Cathedral Yard, and was buried in St Bartholomew's burial-ground, Exeter. He was survived by his wife, Maria. Fifty-four of Gendall's watercolours of Exeter Cathedral monuments are in the Westcountry Studies Library, Exeter.

(Description by L H Cust and Rev John Ford)
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialNo related papers are known.
Access ConditionsUsual EUL arrangements apply.
Creator_NameGendall; John (1789-1865); artist
Mgt_GroupVisual culture papers
    Powered by CalmView© 2008-2024