John Charles Dollman

Salford Museum and Art Gallery

My blog today stems from a visit I made to an art gallery in one of our major cities, Manchester.   I have been to the two main galleries, the Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery, in the city before, but I had never been to the Salford Museum and Art Gallery.  The Salford Museum and Art Gallery was the UK’s ‘first free public library’, which opened in January 1850, followed in November by a museum and art gallery. The building was a mansion house known as Lark Hill, which had been built in the 1790s and has given its name to our famous Lark Hill Place; a Victorian street within the museum.

I had originally thought of featuring five or six of my favourite paintings from the gallery but the more I looked at one of the works of art, the more I wanted to know about other works the artist had produced.  The painting in question was Famine and the artist was the Victorian painter John Charles Dollman, who I had not heard of before. I was intrigued by both artist and the atmospheric painting and I needed to find out more.  Dollman, during his lifetime, was a celebrated artist but since his death just over eight decades ago he has almost been forgotten, so let me introduce you to a very talented Victorian artist.

During the Time of the Sermonses by John Charles Dollman (1896)

John Charles Dollman’s ancestors originated in France where their surname was spelled ‘Doleman’. Both Dollman’s grandfather and great-grandfather were prestigious hatters to the British royal family and it is believed that their work was well-liked by the courtiers.  Dollman’s father, also John, and his wife Mary lived on the south coast of England,  in the East Sussex coastal town of Hove where they had a bookstore and ran a stationery business.  John Charles Dollman, their first son,  was born on May 6th, 1851 one year after his sister, Selina, was born.  Ten years after John entered the world the family had expanded by a further four children, with the addition of Thomas Frederick, Herbert Purvis, Gertrude Eleanor, and the six-month old baby, Kate Maria.

The Rising Generation by John Charles Dollman (1891)

By the time John Dollman was a teenager his artistic talent had been recognised.  Some of his early work featured animals and at one local exhibition the art critic of the Brighton Guardian commented on Dollman’s work:

“…Mr Dollman’s forte seems to be for animal drawing. The strong-looking limbs, the well-rounded forms, and the symmetry of the horses show them to be types of a thoroughly serviceable animal…”

The Dogs Refuge by John Charles Dollman (1871)

Dollman studied art at both South Kensington and the Royal Academy Schools and soon gained a reputation as an animal painter and many at the time saw him as a natural successor to the renowned animal painter, Edwin Landseer. Many of Dollman’s works featured dogs and the plight of stray dogs.  An early painting by Dollman completed in 1871, entitled The Dogs Refuge, was a classic example of this genre and is housed in the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.

Table d’Hote at a Dogs’ Home by John Charles Dollman (1879)

Dogs had been companions to humans for tens of thousands of years but the acceptance of one as part of a family really only came about during Victorian times.  With this sentimentality over the dog came the concern for the fate of abandoned animals roaming the streets and it was this concern that led to the foundation of homes for these canine waifs.  In 1860, the Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs opened its doors in Holloway. London which eventually moved south of the Thames and became the well-known Battersea Dogs Home.  Paintings featuring abandoned dogs pulled at the heart strings of the Victorians and were in much demand.   Another work featuring the plight of stray dogs is his painting Table d’Hote at a Dogs Home which was exhibited at the 1879 Royal Academy and is now housed at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

A London Cab Stand (Les Miserables) by John Charles Dollman (1888)

Probably his most famous works was one which also featured animals.  It was the atmospheric painting entitled A London Cab Stand which he completed in 1888 and is now housed at the London Museum.  It is a depiction of a group of forlorn-looking horses tethered to their cabs standing in pouring rain awaiting their next fare. The work is often known as Les Miserables for obvious reasons.  Dollman composed at least three variants of this picture.

Famine in Armenia illustration by John Charles Dollman

Dollman was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy for over forty years from 1870 to 1912, and was elected a member of the Royal Watercolour Society.  To subsidise his income from selling his art he worked as an illustrator for magazines in the 1880’s such as the British weekly illustrated newspaper, The Graphic.  In some artistic quarters Dollman was referred to as a “black and white artist” which undoubtedly was based upon the amount of illustrations he did for newspapers and magazines.

Famine by John Charles Dollman (1904)

As I said earlier this blog was brought about when I saw Dollman’s haunting oil painting entitled Famine, which he completed in 1904.  It depicts a tall emaciated figure going forward through a wasteland whilst being surrounded by hungry wolves and ravens.  It is a troubling work of art and one wonders what it is all about.  Some believe it is all about starvation with its visualisation of death in the form of the grey shrouded man who is being surrounded by ravenous wolves.  The artist, on the other hand, said he intended it to portray a famine of human spirit, or death of the soul after its neglect.  One amusing story behind this painting is that Dollman went to the zoo to sketch wolves for use in the painting but was disappointed to find that they all seemed well fed and all of them were too healthy-looking, which did not fit in with the idea of the work!

Frigga Spinning the Clouds by John Charles Dollman (c.1908)

Many of Dollman’s illustrations featured Viking mythology. His work conveys a powerful sense of drama. In 1908 Ethel Mary Wilmot-Buxton used eight of Dollman’s images in her book Told by the Northmen, and in the following year nine were reproduced in Hélène Adeline Guerber’s Myths of the Norsemen:  From the Eddas and Sagas.  One of these illustrations which Dollman completed around 1908 was Frigga Spinning the Clouds.  Frig, or the anglicised version of the name, Frigga, which translated means “beloved” was the wife of Odin, the chief of the gods and thus she was the highest ranking of Aesir goddesses.

There is a woman who weaves in the sky

See how She spins, see Her finger fly

She’s been before us from beginning to end

She is our mother, lover and friend

She is the weaver and we are the web

She is the needle and we are the thread.

From the poem Changing Woman by Adele Getty

Frigga was goddess of the clouds, and was usually depicted as wearing either snow-white or dark garments, which was dependent on her disposition.  She was queen of the gods, and she alone had the privilege of sitting beside her husband, Odin, on the throne, Hliðskjálf, which in Norse mythology was the high seat of the god Odin allowing him to see into all realms. From that lofty throne it was said she too could look over all the world and see what was happening, and, according to the belief of our ancestors, she possessed the knowledge of the future. Although she often appeared seated beside her husband, she preferred to remain in her own palace, called Fensalir, where she assiduously worked her jewelled spinning wheel producing golden thread and weaving long webs of bright-coloured clouds. Fensalir was also where Frigga invited husbands and wives who had led virtuous lives on earth, so that they might enjoy each other’s companionship even after death, and never be called upon to part again.

The Village Artist by John Charles Dollman (1899)

Paintings since the days of the cave drawings have been a means for us to learn about the past.  Paintings are often pictorial histories and without them the past would have been just our imagination gleaned from what we read but we lacked the graphic detail.  If we look at the seventeenth century Dutch and Flemish genre paintings we get an idea what life was like for the peasant classes in those days.  At the other end of the scale, in the eighteenth century paintings by the likes of Francois Boucher we get an idea of how the well-off lived in France.  Whereas the paintings looking at life of the rich could well be more stylised versions of the truth with elaborate furnishings added to the picture to enhance the status of the sitters, the peasant paintings were more realistic and it is this realism in a painting that appeals to me.  Add a story behind what we see before us as in narrative paintings then it is the icing on the cake.

The Immigrants Ship by John Charles Dollman (1884)

Narrative art is art that tells a story.  It may be a single moment in a continuing story, often based on history, mythology or the Bible or as a sequence of events unfolding over time, such as the set of six paintings entitled Marriage a’la Mode by William Hogarth. Narrative paintings were especially popular in the Victorian era and John Dollman produced a classic entitled The Immigrant’s Ship in 1884.  In the painting, we see a young girl playing with a doll whilst her exhausted mother, who is almost drained of life, tries to get some rest as she leans her head on her husband’s shoulder.  He stares blankly at the wooden deck of the ship as if he wonders what they have all got themselves into and what was their future.  Unlike the wealthy man, who is sitting nearby with a top hat on his head, his family is living in very cramped quarters in the lower deck, a space which probably measured only a couple of square meters.  Beggars cannot be choosers, and this family was almost at beggar-level having received an assisted passage so that they could make a new life for themselves in Australia.  For people travelling on an assisted place this was no luxurious cruise.  Such passengers had to provide their own bedding and eating utensils and were fed biscuits, gruel, potatoes and occasionally preserved meat.

A Very Gallant Gentleman by John Charles Dollman (1913)

Dollman captured a very poignant moment in history with his 1913 painting entitled  A Very Gallant Gentleman which depicts Captain Laurence “Titus” Oates walking out to his death in the blizzard, on Captain Scott’s return journey from the South Pole, in March 1912. Oates had been suffering from severe frostbite which became so severe that he could hardly climb into his sleeping bag and the “killer”, gangrene, had set in. Oates realised his physical condition was now hampering his three other colleagues’ safe return and he pleaded with them to leave him behind, but they refused. The next day he awoke, and knew what he must do.  He left his colleagues knowing that this may help them and uttered his immortal line:

“…I’m just going outside; I may be away some time…”

Captain Scott recorded in his diary that day that Oates had gone out into the blizzard never to be seen again. The final three members of the expedition party struggled on for a few more days before they too died before ever reaching safety.

John Charles Dollman died in London on December 11th 1934 aged 83.  In his will he bequeathed a sum of ten thousand guineas to the Royal Academy to fund scholarships for promising young artists.  Dollman was a most amazing and yet forgotten artist.

Hope by George Frederic Watts

Hope by George Frederic Watts (1886)

George Frederic Watts was a Victorian painter and sculptor who was closely associated in his later years with the Symbolism Movement.  Symbolism came about in the 1880’s but by the end of the century it had almost died away having been overshadowed by the birth and rise of Modernism.  The Symbolist movement was a reaction against the literal representation of objects and subjects, where instead there was an attempt to create more suggestive, metaphorical and evocative works.  Symbolic artists based their ideas on literature, where poets such as Baudelaire believed that ideas and emotions could be portrayed through sound and rhythm and not just through the meaning of words. Symbolist painter styles varied greatly but common themes included the mystical and the visionary. Symbolists also explored themes of death, debauchery, perversion and eroticism. Symbolism moved away from the naturalism of the impressionists and demonstrated a preference for emotions over intellect.

George Frederic Watts was born on February 23rd 1817 in Marylebone, London and his Christian names were those of the great musician George Frederic Handel who was born on that date some 132 years earlier.  His mother and father struggled financially and this was not helped by the poor health of his mother who was to die when George was very young.   His father was a piano maker and took it upon himself to educate his son at home.  Much emphasis was placed on a conservative Christian upbringing and a love for classical literature.  Unfortunately, as is so often the case, his father’s compelling desire to force his Christian views on his son, eventually made George turn completely away from organised religions.

At the age of ten, George had some informal tuition from William Behnes, a local sculptor where he practiced drawing from the sculptures.  This training proved a godsend as by the age of sixteen he was able to support himself from the sale of his portraits.  In 1835, aged eighteen years of age, George Watts enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools.  Although Watts never enjoyed his time at the establishment and would often fail to attend he did exhibit some of his works at the 1837 Royal Academy Exhibition.  It was whilst studying art that he met and became great friends with Alexander Constantine Ionides, an art patron and collector.  Ionides commissioned many paintings from Watts and became one of his earliest patrons.

By 1840 Watts had moved away from portraiture and concentrated on historical paintings.  In 1843, he entered the first competition to design murals for the new Houses of Parliament.  Entries were to be of a narrative genre which endorsed patriotism and thus would be appropriate to the new legislative building.   His entry, Caractacus Led in Triumph through the Streets of Rome, gained him first prize in the competition and the prize money helped fund his artistic study trip to Italy where he remained for four years.  During his stay in Italy he learnt the secrets of fresco painting and completed many large scale paintings depicting scenes from Romantic literature.  However, he never gave up on his other artistic loves, portraiture and landscape painting.

Watts returned to London in 1847 and once again entered the Houses of Parliament competition.  This was the fourth one organised by the monarch and the government.  Watts won the competition with his entry Alfred Inciting the Saxons to Encounter the Danes at Sea.   Watts suffered from bouts of depression and he expressed his personal struggle with the illness in a series of four paintings which evoked a social realism theme.  One of these works entitled Found Drowned was my featured painting in My Daily Art Display of July 4th 2011.  In 1851 he went to live with his friend Henry Thoby Prinsep and his wife Sara at Little Holland House.  He lived with them for the next twenty-four years and it undoubtedly provided Watts with a secure environment for him to work and relax and provide a safe haven away from the rigours of the real world.  Little Holland House was a favourite meeting place of the young Pre-Raphaelite artists and literary people like Tennyson and it gave Watts then ideal opportunity to paint portraits of the aspiring literary and artistic luminaries of the day.

In 1878 Watts took part in the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris and submitted nine paintings and one sculpture.  He became an instantaneous celebrity on the European art scene.  During the 1880’s,  he produced many symbolic paintings which displayed close links to the work of his friend, the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and the other Pre-Raphaelite artists such as Edward Burne-Jones.

In 1886 at the age of 69 Watts re-married, to Mary Fraser-Tytler, a Scottish designer and potter who was some thirty three years his junior.   In 1891 he bought a house in Compton, near Guilford, in Surrey and in 1904 had a gallery built nearby which became known as the Watts Gallery and which was dedicated to his work.  The Watts Gallery is still a very popular venue for art lovers. George Frederic Watts died that year aged 87, shortly after the gallery opening.

Hope is looked upon as certainly the most influential, and outstanding if not most unusual of all George Frederic Watts’ paintings. This portrayal of the poignant musician has struck a chord with audiences and critics ever since it was first displayed at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1886.  In 1887 at the Royal Jubilee exhibition held in Manchester the painting took pride of place in the middle of an entire wall dedicated to Watts’ work.  Numerous reproductions were made of this painting and many who saw it were deeply affected by what they saw and Watts received many letters from people who were greatly moved by the emotional impact it had on them. In the painting Watts has personified Hope as a young woman seated on a globe, hunched over, appearing to be almost asleep.  She wears a blindfold which symbolises her blindness and to the mental state she embodies. What was it about this work that such an effect on people?  It has to be Watts’ portrayal of this hunched, isolated, blindfolded and barefoot woman who appears to be on the edge of despair.  So why the title Hope?   Maybe in this case it is not hope meaning one’s optimistic thoughts but more of a feeling of almost despair; a hoping against hope.   As we take in the picture of the girl bent over listening to the music from her lyre we wonder why Watts has chosen the title.  The bluish grey background induces a melancholy mood. One critic commented that the painting did not evoke a feeling of hope and should have been entitled Despair.  Maybe that was the reason that in another version of his painting he has added a single star to the background to symbolise hope.  The girl, Hope, bends her ear to catch the music from the last remaining string of her almost shattered lyre. It is the faintest of hope as symbolised in her musical instrument which now with just one string left for her to make music and once that has broken, all hope of her producing a musical sound has disappeared.

Did the painting appeal to those who had almost lost hope themselves and in some way empathised with the vulnerability of the woman in the painting?  Watts had always sought, through his paintings, to communicate his message to as many people as possible. Some would criticise this aspect as being somewhat patronizing but Watts was a great master of narrative paintings and this was probably the reason why his conventional patriotic works he put forward for the Houses of Parliament were so successful.  Watts was surprised by the critical acclaim and popularity of his painting and attempted to follow up his success with Hope with two other works entitled, Faith and Charity, the other two “theological virtues” but they neither received the critical acclaim that his Hope painting achieved nor were they as popular with the public.

This version of the painting can be found in the Tate Gallery, London.

On the Brink by Alfred Elmore

On the Brink by Alfred Elmore (1865)

Today I am featuring a work of narrative art.  Narrative art is one that tells a story and has been very popular in Western art.  It often depicts stories from the Bible, mythological tales and legends and were often pictorial recordings of great moments in history.  In the seventeenth century we began to see such narrative works in the paintings of subjects from everyday life, which were known as genre paintings.  They originated in the main in Holland with scenes of peasant life and drinking scenes in taverns.  In England in the sixteenth century the artist William Hogarth invented the Modern Moral Subject paintings which brilliantly brought to our attention and lampooned the manners and morals in his day.  I featured a set of these paintings in My Daily Art Display (May 4th to May 9th 2011).  Before I talk about today’s painting, I will briefly tell you a little about the life of Alfred Elmore.  In the meantime, I want you to look at the painting and see if you can surmise what is going on and why the artist chose the title of On the Brink.

Today featured work is a Victorian narrative painting by English painter of Irish birth, Alfred Elmore.  Elmore was a Victorian history and genre painter, who was born in Cork in Southern Ireland.  His father, John Richard Elmore was a retired surgeon from the British Army.   His family moved to London and Alfred attended the Royal Academy Schools in 1832.  Whilst at the Academy he briefly associated with a group of fellow art students who had just formed a sketching society which they called The Clique.  It was described as the first group of British artists to combine for greater strength and to announce that the great backward-looking tradition of the Academy was not relevant to the requirements of contemporary art.

In the late 1830’s Elmore studied at French atelier and then from 1840 to 1844 travelled extensively through Europe visiting Munich Venice, Bologna, and Florence and spent two years in Rome.  In 1844 he exhibited his work entitled Rienzi in the Forum at the Royal Academy and this led to him becoming an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARA) the following year.  He became a Royal Academician in 1857.  Elmore painted a number of literary subjects, especially depicting scenes from the plays of Shakespeare but many of his later works were historical narrative works, some of which were wholly anti-Catholic in spirit.  Elmore’s reputation was at its height in the 1850’s but he suffered a lapse into comparative obscurity during the latter portion of his life.  He died of cancer in 1881, aged sixty-five.

And so I return to today’s painting entitled On the Brink which Alfred Elmore painted in 1865 and was probably his best known work.  It is termed a moral genre painting which may give you a clue to what is happening in the painted scene.  What do you make of the title of the painting?  Have you any idea why Elmore would give the work such a name?  I suppose to discover the answers to these questions one has to first identify what we are looking at.  We are standing outside a house and looking through an open window into a room which is the venue for some sort of gaming.  A man leans out of the window and is talking to an unhappy-looking woman who is seated outside.  That is the scene and the man and the woman are the main characters.

This painting, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1865, clearly embellishes the concerns Victorian people had about gambling, especially when it involved young women. The artist has created a striking sense of depth within the painting. There is a great contrast in the colours used for the interior and the exterior.   In the foreground we have the outside tranquillity and paleness of the moonlight which contrasts with the dazzling red and gold gaudiness of the hustle and bustle going on inside the room.   Look at the garish colours of the gaming room.  The red wallpaper is lit by a chandelier and candles, which are reflected in gilt mirrors around the walls. A throng of people lean over a gaming table, totally absorbed in the action, which contrasts with the sorrowful state of the woman in the foreground. If we look to the left background we can see a curtained-archway which leads to another well-lit gaming room full of people.  We are almost certain we know the setting for this painting for there is a one word inscription, Homburg, on the reverse of the canvas.  In 1842, the German town of Bad Homburg had a casino and spa and had attracted a wealthy and cosmopolitan clientele to its gaming tables, of which many were British.

The woman with a decision to make.

The young woman, we see before us, sits unhappily outside in the darkness of the evening. Her figure is illuminated by the white light coming from the moon. We can only see one side of her face which is deathly white whilst the other side is hidden in the darkness of the night.  Her clothes are of a rich quality and the height of fashion.  Our first clue as to what the painting is all about is the empty purse which dangles from her right hand and a torn gaming card which lies discarded at her feet. From these clues we now know why she is in such a state – she has lost all her money at the gaming tables which we can see through the open window behind her.

The seducer

Still we haven’t reconciled the title of the painting but if we look at the shadowy figure of a man leaning out of the window talking to her all will be resolved.  His figure, apart from his hands, is neither illuminated by the light from the room nor the moonlight.  The way the young man is depicted, almost devil-like, adds a certain air of foreboding and menace and we feel that he is not a good companion for this lady.  It is interesting to see how the artist compares this mismatch with the couple in the middle ground.  They are standing in the room directly behind the shadowy figure and face each other in a loving stance.

The title of the painting can be understood a little better if we look at the flowers which are next to the woman.  There are two types of flower.  One is a white lily which symbolises purity whilst the other is the purple passion flower.  In the Punch magazine in the May of the year the painting was exhibited, an anonymous poet had written, about the scene and what we were looking at:

E’s [for] Mr. Elmore. She’s tempted to sin;
She’s fair. Will the lily or the passion flower win?

According to the poet’s understanding of the painting, it was all about the choice faced by the unfortunate young female who had just gambled away all her money and was now being propositioned by an unseemly man.   The question she is on the brink of answering is, should she retain her virtue and face the consequences of her new found poverty, or does she earn the money she needs to repay her debts by submitting to the proposition of the young man who is offering money for her body.  As we look at her she is “on the brink” of making her decision.  So we now know that the title of the painting derives from the situation in which a young woman s ‘on the brink’ of responding to the blandishments of a seducer, who is depicted as a Satan-like figure, luridly bathed in red light, and whispering corrupting thoughts in her ear.

There were a number of Victorian paintings which depicted “fallen women” and I will look at another in a few days time.  This one by Elmore, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1865, was to greatly enhance his reputation as a Victorian artist.

The painting is presently housed in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Hogarth’s Studio in 1739 by Edward Matthew Ward

Hogarth’s Studio in 1739 by Edward Matthew Ward

One of the unexpected pleasures I get when I visit an art gallery to see a specific exhibition is that having observed the exhibition I always like to walk around and see the paintings in the gallery’s permanent collection and it is then that you unearth some gems.  When I visited the York Art Gallery to take in the William Etty exhibition I gave myself time to have a look at some of the gallery’s other paintings and it also gave me a reason to escape the clutches of the semi-naked live art performer (see My Daily Art Display of December 12th).  It was during this perusal of the works that I came across a painting by Edward Matthew Ward and it is his painting entitled Hogarth’s Studio in 1739 that I am featuring in today’s edition of My Daily Art Display.

Edward Matthew Ward was born in Pimlico, London in 1816 and has been classified as an English narrative painter.  Narrative paintings are an art form that tell a story. This is a long tradition in the world of art and probably dates back to the time of the ancient Egyptians. Popular trends in narrative painting have included history paintings which incorporates the likes of biblical, mythological, and historical themes and which were popular during the period of the Renaissance to the 18th century.  We have already seen in earlier blogs of mine the moralizing story series of William Hogarth’s  Marriage à la Mode ; and then in the 19th-century the narrative art turned more towards anecdotal and sentimental narratives, usually depicting domestic scenes.  In narrative paintings of the 19th century, the title became an important part of the artwork, often explaining the message.

Edward Ward’s parents encouraged his early interest in art and he was sent to a number of art schools, including that of John Cawse, the portraitist and history painter.   Ward was a very talented artist even at an early age and even  won an award from the Society of Arts at the age of 14.  At the age of eighteen he exhibited his first work at the Royal Academy and the following year, 1835, he enrolled as a student at the Royal Academy Schools.  At the age of twenty he set off from England and went to Rome where he remained for three years and it was whilst he was there that he achieved another artistic award.  This time it was a silver medal presented to him by the Rome Academy of St Luke for his work entitled Cimbaue and Giotto, which he sent back to London and which was exhibited in the 1839 R.A. exhibition. 

He returned to England in 1839 but on the way back Ward visited Munich to learn the technique of modern fresco painting.  The reason behind that was that he wanted to take part in the competition to decorate the Palace of Westminster.  In London, the old Houses of Parliament had been destroyed by fire in 1834 and the new Houses of Parliament at Westminster were built. Competitions were held for appropriate designs (‘cartoons’), with a number of leading artists commissioned to take part.   To organise and oversee this project, a Royal Commission had been appointed in 1841, the President of which was Queen Victoria’s new consort Prince Albert.   In all there were three annual competitions.  The competition rules were that each artist would submit a full sized cartoon (preparatory drawing) with specimens of fresco or other techniques suitable for murals.  The design of their submitted work had to be scenes from British History or Literature or personifications of abstract representations of Religion, Justice and the Spirit of Chivalry.  Ward submitted his cartoon entitled Boadicea in the 1843 competition, but it was unsuccessful.  However nine years later, in 1852, mainly because of his much admired historical works, he was commissioned to produce eight pictures for the corridors of the Palace of Westminster, on subjects drawn from the English Civil War.   These were to depict parallel episodes on the two sides in the Civil War.  Ward’s paintings depicted the opposed figures, as if confronting one another, across the corridor.  By now Ward’s work was becoming very popular and he was never short of commissions.

In 1843, the twenty-seven year old Ward met Henrietta Ward the eleven year old daughter of George Raphael Ward, the artist and printmaker and Mary Webb Ward the miniaturist.  Henrietta was besotted with Ward and despite the great age difference they eloped, with the help of Ward’s friend the author Wilkie Collins, and married in 1848 when she was just sixteen years of age.  Henrietta’s parents were devastated and angered by this turn of events and her mother never forgave her and in fact, disinherited her.  The couple went on to have eight children, one of whom, a son, Leslie, was later to become a portraitist and well-known caricaturist and cartoonist, who had many of his works printed in magazines, such as Vanity Fair.  Henrietta although kept busy with her large brood of children was also a noted historical painter and her paintings of children, for which she used her own as models, were also very popular.

Edward Ward was very much influenced by the work of the English narrative artist William Hogarth and during the 1860’s he would mimic Hogarth’s style in his works which depicted incidents from British history.  Ward’s life changed dramatically in the late 1870’s when he started to suffer from a painful and debilitating illness which caused him to have prolonged bouts of depression.  In January 1879, aged 62, Edward Matthew Ward committed suicide.

The featured painting in My Daily Art Display today is entitled Hogarth’s Studio in 1739.  Edward Ward completed this oil on canvas work in 1863.  The setting for this painting, as the title implies, is the studio of the great English painter William Hogarth.   Hogarth’s completed portrait of Captain Thomas Coram is seen on display.  Coram was a philanthropic sea captain who had established the Foundling Hospital in London, in 1741.  It was a children’s home established for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children.”  Although the word “hospital” is in the title of the painting, the establishment itself was not a medical facility.  It simply indicated that it was a place of “hospitality” to those children who had fallen on hard times.  The Foundling’s Hospital had a number of artistic connections.  William Hogarth, who was childless, had a long association with the Hospital and was a founding Governor. It was he who designed the children’s uniforms and the establishment’s coat of arms and Hogarth and his wife Jane fostered foundling children. Hogarth also decided to set up a permanent art exhibition in the new buildings, and encouraged other artists to produce work for the hospital. Many of Hogarth’s contemporaries, such as Gainsborough, Reynolds, Richard Wilson and Francis Hayman gave works to the establishment.

We see numerous children in the painting.   All in their best clothes having come from the Foundling Hospital to Hogarth’s studio, to see the painting.  To the left of the painting we see Hogarth’s wife, Jane standing at the table, slicing up the fruit cake.  The little boy standing by Mrs. Hogarth has no time for the painting which is on display; all he is concerned about are the cakes!  Hiding behind the painting we see the artist Hogarth and the subject of the work, Thomas Coram.   Look at the little girl who stands in front of the portrait peering up hesitantly at it, as if it is the real Captain Coram.  Another girl wearing a red-hooded cloak sits to the right of the painting.  She, we must presume, is crippled and unable to stand for long periods of time as her crutches lie on the floor next to her.  The girl to her right dressed in a sumptuous blue dress animatedly tells her all about the painting.  Take time and look at the wonderful facial expressions of the children.  I love how the artist has incorporated a multi-paneled window in the background and through it we catch a glimpse of a garden.  On the floor we see a globe and a book which Hogarth has used in his painting of the seafarer presumably symbolizing Coram’s travels and knowledge.

It is a beautiful painting and but for my visit to the Etty exhibition in the York Art Gallery, I may never have set eyes on the work.