Ernest William Tristram

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Ernest William Tristram
Medieval wall paintings and Norman window in the church of St. Thomas a Becket - - 1795359.jpg
Medieval wall paintings uncovered by Tristram in 1927
EducationCarmarthen Grammar School
Alma materRoyal College of Art
Known forEnglish Medieval Wall Painting (3 vols., 1944–1955)
Scientific career
FieldsArt History, Conservation
InstitutionsRoyal College of Art

Ernest William Tristram (1882–1952) was a British art historian, artist and conservator, and Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art (1926–1948).


Tristram was born in Carmarthen, the son of Francis William Tristram, a railway inspector, and Sarah Harverson. After leaving Carmarthen Grammar School he studied at the Royal College of Art. In 1906 he joined the teaching staff, becoming professor of design in 1926.

He published on English medieval wall painting, and worked on the conservation of medieval murals with mixed results. He also wrote on the conservation of medieval monuments for The Times and the Burlington Magazine. His conservation included work on King Edward's Chair (the coronation chair) in Westminster Abbey.[1] Although best known for his cataloguing and watercolours of existing church murals, Tristram also painted original works. These include chancel wall panels for St Elisabeth's Eastbourne, depicting St John the Baptist and his parents, as well as paintings at York Minster and Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork City, Ireland.

He retired in 1948 and died in a nursing home in Newton Abbot in 1952.


  • English Medieval Wall Painting. The Twelfth Century (Oxford University Press, 1944)
  • English Medieval Wall Painting. The Thirteenth Century (Oxford University Press, 1950)
  • English Wall Painting of the Fourteenth Century (Routledge & Paul, 1955) – posthumous


  1. ^ "Tristram, E(rnest) W(illiam)", Dictionary of Art Historians. Accessed 18 January 2015.

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