Perspective painting of the reredos of Exeter Cathedral in the 1630s

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Perspective painting of the reredos of Exeter Cathedral in the 1630s

In the 1630s the wall behind the cathedral's high altar remained bare, stripped of its ornaments since the Reformation. In 1638 William Hellyar, Archdeacon of Barnstaple, employed the artist William Cavell to paint this view on the wall, showing Moses and Aaron holding the Ten Commandments, set within a receding perspective of Heaven itself. The painting was much admired in its day but it was removed in 1813-14 when such works had come to be regarded as debased. It is known solely from this record by Arthur Bradley, dated 1740, and from engravings which reproduced it.

Acknowledgments: RAM Museum