CAPTION: The Right Reverend Robert Atwell becomes the 71st Bishop of Exeter to have their portrait painted.

New Portrait of the Bishop of Exeter Goes on Display at Exeter Cathedral

Posted: 22nd July, 2021

A new portrait of the Bishop of Exeter has been put on display in Exeter Cathedral.

The painting of the Right Reverend Robert Atwell is by Devon artist Rupert Brooks and shows the bishop dressed in clerical robes and seated on a chair.

The Right Reverend Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter By Rupert W Brooks

Commenting on his likeness, Bishop Robert said “It is a privilege to have my portrait painted.

“A portrait goes deeper than a photograph and Rupert Brooks has done an amazing job.

“Seeing it for the first time, you suddenly become aware of being the 71st Bishop of Exeter in a line that stretches back to before the Norman Conquest, and it is very humbling.”

Rupert Brooks, who is based near Chulmleigh, is a member of the South West Academy of Art and has exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters over a number of years.

He said “In this painting Bishop Robert is relaxed and thoughtful. He is engaging with the viewer, looking out of the canvas, meeting your gaze.”

The oil painting, which was funded by a private donation, follows in a long tradition of portraits of the bishops of Exeter going back to medieval times.

It intentionally mirrors a mid Eighteenth-Century painting of Bishop Lavington and will eventually hang with it either side of a fireplace in the Bishop’s Palace.

“I like that Bishop Robert is wearing similar clothes to those worn in one of the Tudor paintings and we are carrying on that tradition,” Rupert said.

“Oil paintings can last for hundreds of years so it will hopefully be around for a long time.”

Canon Ian Morter, a Cathedral priest and an amateur art historian, said “The painting is not only a very good likeness, but one could also say something of a psychological portrait as it shows something of Bishop Robert’s depth of character.”

The portrait has been put on public display in Exeter Cathedral’s St Gabriel Chapel and will remain there until Sunday 23 August.

Here is a short video of the unveiling, including reflections from the Bishop of Exeter and Rupert Brooks:

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