Western Tower of Furness Abbey

  • About the work
    Country: Switzerland
    City: Berne
    Place: British Embassy

    Romance is brought to this view of the ruins of Furness Abbey, near Barrow-in-Furness, in Cumbria, by the addition of a young man seated on part of the ruins before a woman dressed in pink. Behind them vegetation grows from crumbling walls.

    Furness Abbey is built from local sandstone. It was founded in 1123 by French-born Stephen, Count of Boulogne and Mortain (King of England, 1135-54) for the Order of Savigny. In 1147 it passed to the Cistercians, who enlarged and rebuilt the original church. Most of the ruins visible today date from the 12th and 13th centuries. During the 15th century the Abbey was remodelled and became one of the richest and most powerful Cistercian abbeys in England. It was dissolved in 1537 at the command of Henry VIII. Today the site is managed by English Heritage.

    Although this image appears to date from the 1850s, nothing is known of when this work was printed, who it was published by or whether it formed part of a volume or series of prints. In fact, the only reference to it discovered so far is London printseller Walter V. Daniell’s listing in his sale catalogue of 1909, describing the work as ‘Furness Abbey, Western Tower, pretty coloured lithograph by Hawkins, 13½ by 11 in., 3s 6d’.

  • About the artist
    Draughtsman and lithographer George Hawkins junior produced plates after his own designs and those by contemporary artists. Hawkins worked for the publisher Day and Son and specialised in topography and architectural subjects. Fellow lithographer Louis Haghe was a close friend and it was reported that when Haghe stopped engraving ‘Flemish groupings’ in ecclesiastical or medieval interiors, Hawkins was left unrivalled in the subject. He also produced lithographic views of cathedrals, ruined abbeys, churches, country estates and public buildings, including bridges and railway viaducts. Lithographer Alfred Newman was his pupil. Hawkins died following ‘a distressing and incurable malady’ in his 43rd year, at his home in Camden Town, London.
  • Explore
    Materials & Techniques
    lithograph, colour lithograph
  • Details
    Western Tower of Furness Abbey
    Colour lithograph
    Purchased from Baynton-Williams, January 1976
    GAC number