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The Provost's House, Eton

George Pyne (1800-1884)


Watercolour with pencil

8 ¾ x 12 ¾ inches

Leger Galleries, London, December 1976;
Peter Lawrence

'Chris Beetles Summer Show', 2020, No 28

Eton College, Buckinghamshire, was founded by Henry VI in 1440. The institution was originally modelled on Winchester, founded in 1387, as a charity school for 70 less privileged boys. Its red brick buildings include a house for the use of the Provost, the chairman of the college’s governing body, which selects a Head Master. It is overshadowed by a fine grey-stone chapel in the Perpendicular style, which was constructed later in the fifteenth century. The upper school was added in 1694, when the college first became fashionable for sons of the nobility. Further expansion occurred as both its fame and its population grew.
During the period of George Pyne’s career, Eton had five Provosts, all of whom had been educated at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge.

These were the long-serving but conservative Joseph Goodall (1809-40); John Lonsdale (1840), who was elected but refused office in favour of Francis Hodgson; Hodgson (1840-53), who proved to be a great reformer; Edward Hawtrey (1853-62), who had served as Head Master under Hodgson; and Charles Goodford (1862-1884), who was Head Master under Hawtrey and was another reformer.

This watercolour was presented to Peter Lawrence in 1977, on his retirement from his position as a house master at Eton. Publishing books and articles on aspects of the history of the college, he founded the Museum of Eton Life in 1985. Until his death in 2005, he was the last surviving master at Eton to have served in the Second World War.

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