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'At Hale, Lancashire' - William Davis

Village view of village green, pond, trees and houses

  • Oil on canvas 33 cm x 50 cm (13" x 19 3/4")
  • Signed WD. Inscribed on verso Hale/Lancashire/W Davis
  • Walker Art Gallery

Subject

Hale is a village approximately seven miles from Liverpool on the northern bank of the Mersey. The artist could easily have travelled there and back within a day in order to paint on the spot. The cottage is identifiable with one still standing at the Liverpool end of the village.

detail showing a cottage

Technique

Ruskin disapproved of Davis's works, considering them like some of Ford Madox Brown|'s landscapes, not grand enough in conception or choice of subject. The suggested parallel with Madox Brown is just, although Davis never equalled his skills as a painter, for it is precisely the 'matter of fact' unheroic quality of these little works that is their peculiar strength, and merits their consideration alongside Madox Brown's Finchley and Hendon landscapes of the 1850s.

detail showing geese on a pond

Eighteen of Davis's oil paintings are in the Walker Art Gallery collection, and there are usually three or four on public display. 'Hale' probably dates from the early 1860s and is typically brightly coloured and precisely detailed.

detail showing a house through trees

Chronology

William Davis (1812-1873), born in Dublin, trained in the Liverpool Academy Schools from 1846 until about 1849 and was Professor of Drawing there from 1856-59. He was one of the Liverpool artists who adopted Pre-Raphaelite practice. Davis was friendly with the Pre-Raphaelite London circle, and was a member of the Hogarth Club. Most of his work was done for local Liverpool patrons. In 1870, he moved to London.