Remains of the Ancient Conventual Church at Ely
Coloured engravingpublished 4 May 1808
About the work
St Etheldred founded a monastery at Ely, which may be considered the foundation of what became known as the Conventual (i.e. attached to the monastery) Church. This church was the precursor the present cathedral. The remains of the church were drawn by Thomas Hearne in the early 19th century. Hearne also drew a 'South-west View of Ely', which was engraved by John Byrne (1786-1847), the son of the engraver of this work.
About the artist
William Byrne made etchings and engravings of landscapes after contemporary artists. At 22 he won a premium of 25 guineas from the Society of Arts. From 1769 to 1772 he worked for Johann Georg Wille in Paris. After returning to the UK he became a prosperous engraver and publisher. He exhibited from 1766 to 1780 and was elected a fellow of the Incorporated Society of Artists. With watercolourist Thomas Hearne he produced the series of engravings for ‘The Antiquities of Great Britain’ (1778-06). Among his pupils were Samuel Middiman and Johann Gottlieb Schumann. Byrne married twice and had five children, all of whom became painters and / or engravers. Byrne died suddenly at his home in Titchfield Street, Westminster, at about the age of 62.
Thomas Hearne was born at Brinkworth, near Malmesbury in Wiltshire. He was apprentice to the engraver William Woollett, and became a watercolourist, mostly of topographical views. In 1771 he went to the Leeward Islands with the Governor-General Sir Ralph Payne, and stayed for three and a half years. His most important work was in conjunction with the engraver William Byrne, with whom he produced ‘The Antiquities of Great Britain’ between 1777 and 1781, and many of the plates for ‘Britannia Depicta’ between 1806 and 1818. His early work shows the influence of Paul Sandby, and he was in turn to influence the early styles of Thomas Girtin and J. M. W. Turner.