After a Day's Sport
Appraisal by Sarah Kellam
Acc No 101
Artist Richard Ansdell and William Powell Frith
Artist dates Ansdell 1815-1885, Frith 1819-1909
Medium oil on canvas
Size 55.9 x 73.7 cm (29 x 22 in)
Date painted 1867
Inscr: Signed by both artists
Another signature M. or N. McMar(r)y
has been found on the reverse of the canvas beneath a relining.
Donor Alderman J H Dawson
Date donated 20 March 1939
This painting is attributed to Richard Ansdell and William Powell Frith, bearing signatures by both artists. The signature of another artist (M. or N. McMar(r)y) has been found on the reverse of the canvas beneath a relining.
Sarah Kellam would not like to 100 percent attribute this to Ansdell as a collaboration with Frith – to a practised eye, there are anomalies and although there was sometimes a collaboration, it is highly unusual for both artists to sign – only one would usually sign. In a collaboration, it was the practice that Ansdell would paint any animals and/or birds and maybe the figures and Frith would paint the landscape and maybe the figures – depending on what the two artists decided between them.
This is a very pleasant summer depiction of a poor country family scraping a living from the land. They would probably have a little plot with a basic cottage where they would all live in one room with an earth floor. Alternatively, this could be a young gamekeeper’s family living in a tied cottage with use of some land. The woman is carrying corn sheaves on her back (Ansdell loved painting corn sheaves and he was particularly good at them – often adding a few wild flowers for interest. This time there are poppies). The presence of the corn sheaves tell me that there is land to be harvested and maybe animals to be fed. It is high summer and the young man has probably been out shooting the game birds that scatter as corn is cut. In this case, there is partridge for the pot. The little girl is trying to feel the softness of the feathers – as curious as any two-year old today. The English Setter is beautifully painted (I can see Ansdell at work here). He/she is well-fed and well-worked, but is an important member of the family, helping them to put food on the table by retrieving any shot game.
It is worthwhile taking a look at the surrounding vegetation and flora – it is exquisitely painted and informative as to what the hedgerows looked like all that time ago. There is a scythe in the foreground which had been put to good use on the day. The ladder in the hedge appears in many Ansdell paintings and was an effective, stock-proof way to close a gap but to also allow access – and much cheaper than a gate!
I would have to say that the dog and the ladder are definitely by Ansdell’s hand. A bit of an enigma this painting.
They do have rather a lot of clothes on for high summer!
Sarah Kellam © 2018
To view the complete artworks of Richard Ansdell in the Collection please click on his name under Artists on the Home Page.
Sarah Kellam is the Great Great Grand- daughter of Richard Ansdell