The Belfry, Bergues

LL 3876


This watercolour is one of seven topographical continental views that are particularly small and framed together in the Lady Lever collection. It was copied by an unknown artist from Bonington's view of the famous 16th-century belfry of Bergues, south of Dunkirk in France. It was originally published in 1824 as part of his 'Restes et Fragmens d'Architecture du Moyen Age' series. The Lady Lever version was most likely copied from the engraving by W J Cooke (baptised 1796 - 1865) which was published in 'The Gem' in 1831. It is very loosely sketched, compressing the height of the belfry that is visible and distorting the strong verticals of the corner turrets. The gap between the houses is also enlarged and some of the figures in the foreground of the original have been omitted. The belfry, considered to be the finest in France, was destroyed by dynamite on 16 September 1944. A simplified replica was completed in 1961.