William III Bromley, Lovers' Rest

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A fine 19th-century rural scene by English genre painter, William III Bromley (act. 1835-1888). This intelligent little painting is full of symbolism and it’s a masterful work by a highly regarded artist.

A young couple have met within a wooded area and seem to be having a conversation. She’s leaning back onto a grassy verge as he’s leaning forward while sitting on a large rock.

Bromley gives us some witty clues, which suggest that the couple have more than the weather on their mind. Note how the male is grasping the material in his right hand - can you spot a shape? It’s also interesting that he’s carrying a rod, while she owns a pail.

But although his intentions are quite clear, perhaps she’s not as keen. Note how she’s leaning away as the tree behind echoes her shape. She’s also holding her left hand to her waist, perhaps indicating her desire for a family. And not to put too fine a point on it, but her legs are crossed while his are certainly not.

Works by William III Bromley were regularly shown at the Royal Academy from around 1844 and he also exhibited at the British Institution. Six of his works have reached over £10,000 at the UK’s leading auction houses.

The painting is signed in the lower right.

Medium
Oil on canvas
Overall size
18” x 14” / 46cm x 36cm
Year of creation
c. 1870
Provenance
Private collection, England
Condition
Very good overall with no issues. Canvas professionally relined within the last 50 years.
Artist’s auction highlight
£18,000 achieved for ‘Gathering Berries’ (92cm x 71cm) in 1999 at Sotheby’s, London.