A Boy and Girl with Hounds
Research by Marjorie Gregson
Acc No 94
Artist Richard Ansdell
Artist dates 1815-1885
Medium Oil on canvas
Size 91.4 x 68.6 cm
Date painted 1860
Inscr: Signed (L.R.) and dated 1860
Donor gift from Mrs Ethel Wilson and Mrs Bessie
Morgan in memory of their
late father, John Ellis Cowcill
Date donated 17 June 1957
Although this painting is signed it has been rejected as an Ansdell by his great great grand-daughter, Sarah Kellam.
Ansdell was renowned for his skilful painting of domestic animals, scenes of sporting life and rural themes with shepherds, in settings such as the Scottish Highlands. His animals were so well observed that he was often compared to the great animal artist, Landseer.
It has been suggested that perhaps this was a collaboration with William Powell Frith (1819-1909). Frith, like Ansdell, painted figures in scenes of contemporary life. His scenes were often panoramic and carefully observed and he liked to portray people in everyday situations. One can see why it has been attributed to these two artists as they often collaborated to produce such paintings as The Gamekeeper’s Daughter, A Dream of the Future and The Pet Fawn, all of which depict figures and dogs, as in this picture. We are delighted that such a joint venture, After A Day's Sport, 1867, signed by both artists, forms part of the Collection.
Perhaps the painting has been disputed because the quality of the artwork is not as fine as that in their other collaborations? Neither the painting of the dogs, nor that of the three figures, enhance the reputation of these two accomplished artists.
We have been advised by Fylde Borough Council that Christies have suggested this painting may be by Alfred Morris, a genre painter who was mostly recognised for his landscapes, often featuring sheep. However, A Boy and Girl with Hounds is not typical of his work which mainly shows animals, painted in great detail, in their natural habitat. Figures were not part of his compositions.
John Ellis Cowcill, 1863-1956, was born in Lytham to Thomas and Martha Cowcill. The 1871 census shows the family living in Warton Street, Lytham. By 1881 Thomas and Martha were living in Manchester with their seven children, four of whom were born on the Fylde and three in Manchester. Thomas was described as a coal merchant.
John married Elizabeth Ann Clarke in 1888 and by 1891 they were living with their baby daughter, born in 1890, at the home of Thomas and Martha. John and Elizabeth seemed to moved around the country as Ethel was born in Audenshaw, Manchester and their younger daughter, Bessie, was born in Alsager, Cheshire in 1894. The family's permanent home became Silkstone Common, Silkstone, near Barnsley. On the 1901 census John was described as a colliery salesman and in a newspaper article in 1912 as a mining engineer.
John had another string to his bow as he ran a very successful poultry farm, Silkstone Main Poultry Farm, and won many international competitions for his birds.
The weddings of both his daughters were featured in the Yorkshire press. Ethel married William Wilson, a cotton merchant, in 1914 and Bessie married Harold Joseph James Morgan in 1928.
John and Elizabeth retired to the Fylde and lived at 5 Woodville Terrace, Lytham, where Elizabeth died in 1944 and John in 1956. In his will he left £144,000.
To view the complete artworks of Richard Ansdell in the Collection please click on his name under Artists on the Home Page.