Gambier Parry was returning from an extended tour of Europe with his second wife, having been married early in August, when he met Scott in Venice in 1851. The latter part of their journey had, like that of Scott, included Vienna. Six months earlier, he had his greatest achievement as an architectural patron with the consecration Highnam Church and was about to embark on a new career as a collector of Italian medieval paintings. He was to become closely involved with Scott over Ely Cathedral, which ended up with a ferocious argument between the two men.

Parry had just published his investigations into the technique of ‘spirit fresco’ painting and early in 1863 he started work on the ceiling of Ely, using this system. In 1874 Gambier Parry was invited to decorate the interior of Scott’s new lantern, not at Scott’s request. In 1866-8, he had painted a chapel at Gloucester Cathedral and had reported on a scheme for decorating the choir vaulting while Scott was carrying out his restoration there. Scott did not think that Parry’s proposal for Gloucester was at all suitable, preferring Clayton and Bell, and said so. So when Parry returned to Ely in 1874, he completely shunned Scott and recommended that the Dean and Chapter should follow suite, which, much to Scott’s satisfaction, they refused to do.