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'Girl with Jug of Ale and Pipes' - James Campbell

Girl in bonnet carrying jug

  • Oil on board 38.7 cm x 30.5 cm (15 1/4" x 12")
  • Inscribed and dated on verso 1856
  • Walker Art Gallery

Subject

Here we see a young girl returning from a public house carefully carrying a gallon jug of beer and three clay pipes up a steep flight of steps. The background is possibly Liverpool but more likely Kirkdale, where Campbell lived, with a view on the left towards the hilltop parish church of Everton and on the right to the sun sinking over the Mersey and the Welsh coastline.

Technique

Campbell regularly composed his pictures using a front-facing figure holding an object. Three of the pictures described here follow this pattern.

detail showing houses

Everton parish church in the background

Chronology

James Campbell (1828-1893), son of a Liverpool insurance clerk, studied at the Liverpool Academy and at the Royal Academy. For a few years from about 1856-1862 he was influenced by Pre-Raphaelite ideas without, however, becoming involved in the gravity or moral earnestness of subject that others pursued. His was ultimately more a flirtation with the technical side of Pre-Raphaelite practice. The best of Campbell's little pictures are delightfully straightforward and minutely detailed accounts of respectable lower-middle class and artisan life in Liverpool. He is the most Dickensian of all the Pre-Raphaelites.