Tongres [Tongeren], Belgium (The Old Town Gate)

  • About the work
    Bathed in dusk light, this sketched urban scene by James Alphege Brewer depicts the Old Town Gate in Tongeren, the oldest town in Belgium, to the south-east of the Flemish region. Known locally as the ‘Moerenpoort’ or ‘Moerentoren’, it is the only surviving gate of the 13th century medieval walls of Tongeren, built on the remains of the old Roman wall. The gate was rebuilt in the 14th century and underwent restorations in 1892, 1958 and 2011. Brewer captures the rounded Romanesque arch of the tower on the town side, while a pointed gothic arch faces the field side. A sense of scale is provided by the inclusion of two women in the foreground, one carrying a basket, and the other collecting water from a pump.
  • About the artist
    James Alphege Brewer was born into an artistic family, the son of the artist Henry W. Brewer – a prominent convert to the Catholic Church; and the grandson of John Sherren Brewer, Jr., the editor of the Calendar of Letters of Henry VIII. He attended St. Charles Catholic College in Kensington before studying at the Westminster School of Art. Commercially-minded, Brewer’s production focused on cathedral exteriors and interiors including those of Milan, Rouen, Amiens, Toledo, Antwerp; as well as multiple views of various colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, and other scenes of interest to tourists and readers of literature. Brewer’s most prolific year was 1915, when Alfred Bell & Co. published 13 of his etchings, 11 of them scenes of places that had been destroyed or were in danger from the events of the war. These views could have been sketched or photographed before the war using guidance from newspaper articles speculating about the course of a German invasion of Belgium.
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  • Details
    Tongres [Tongeren], Belgium (The Old Town Gate)
    Colour etching
    origin uncertain
    below image: Tongres Begium (the Old Town Gate) / J Alphege Brewer.
    GAC number