Research by Sarah Kellam
Great Great Grand-daughter of Richard Ansdell
(Acc No 54
Artist Richard Ansdell
Artist dates 1815 -1885
Medium oil on canvas
Size 61x 76 cm (24 x 30 in)
Date painted 1860
Inscr: signed and dated
Donor James Alexander Stretton Fair
(1863-1941) of Newbury
Land Agent to the Clifton family
of Lytham Park (circa 1894-1919)
Date donated October 1937
Painted in the year Ansdell started to build 'Starr Hills'.
Ansdell was known to have painted some of the Clifton’s horses in their stables at Lytham Hall so it is quite possible that this cow belonged to the Cliftons which would give this painting special relevance to Lytham.
This painting could easily be overlooked for the larger and more dramatic paintings in the Collection but, on close inspection, it’s really quite charming. The ‘rather too clean’ cow has that nonchalant air that cows have and the landscape and sky are nicely detailed. This was probably a special beast – Ansdell, at this time, specialised in depicting prize cattle for their owners before photography was widely used. Notable among the people whose livestock he painted were the Marquess of Bute and Earl Spencer, so it would be highly likely he would paint cattle on his own doorstep. At this time too, he was friends with Thomas Sidney Cooper (1803-1902), who is famous for his depiction of cattle. They would take trips out together. The red cow certainly has character but has that bony look that was present in Ansdell’s livestock paintings of this date, exhibiting a fascination with the skeletal structure of the animal – Ansdell’s animals became more rounded as he lost his inhibitions about getting the bones in the right place. An interesting developmental painting.