There’s an easy to miss exhibition at the V&A at the moment of the drawings by the painter, Sir James Thornhill, who amongst many things, was responsible for the Painted Hall in Greenwich.
The exhibition focuses on the role that drawing played in Thornhill’s practice, ranging from quick sketches to the more considered and worked-up designs. Some of the sketches in the V&A archives are the only records of his eventual paintings, as they were lost in fires and demolitions.
Some of the sketches on display are clearly from Greenwich’s Painted Hall, whereas others look like they might have been for the Painted Hall, but maybe scrapped in favour of other designs. Certainly, a couple have descriptions next to them saying that notes on the back indicate that they were early designs for Greenwich, although clearly never used for the final murals.
One of the more famous features of the Greenwich murals is the self-portrait Thornhill added of himself, but peer closely at one of the sketches and you can see that he intended to appear in the mural right from the start.
It’s a modest exhibition that can be found in a side corridor on the first floor of the V&A Museum close to the Theatre and Jewellery display rooms.
The exhibition, Exploring Lines – the Drawings of Sir James Thornhill is open until 22nd July 2022.
It’s free to visit.