Charles Rossiter

Very Industrious

Regular price £2,295.00
Unit price

Charles Rossiter

Very Industrious

Regular price £2,295.00
Unit price
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This charming mid-19th-century oil painting by British artist Charles Rossiter (1827-1897) depicts a girl sewing before a window with a view through to a garden. It was shown at The Dudley Gallery, London, in 1872.

Looking back across the rich and varied tapestry of Rossiter’s oeuvre, one gets the impression that he was a buoyant character, excited by his role as an artist. His scenes span over four hundred years of history, from the Tudor period to the present day. Each rendered with a sense of verve, an underlying spirit, visible through colour, line and atmosphere.

He trained at the esteemed ‘Leigh’s Academy’ in London, an art school run by the progressive figure painter, James Matthew Leigh (1808-60). Leigh’s was fundamentally different as students were encouraged to experiment - with less emphasis placed upon copying the old masters and more on working from life. Small study groups were formed whereby students discussed each other’s approach, thus learning collectively and somewhat more organically. Several of the Victorian elite undertook their training at Leigh’s (later known as Heatherley School of Fine Art) including Sir Frederic Leighton, Sir John Millais, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and Edwin Long.

Galvanised by these experiences, Rossiter soon developed a strong reputation for figure painting and, in 1852, debuted at the Royal Academy. His style during the early part of his career borrows a little from the vivacious colouring of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Also from those on the fringes of this movement, such as Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893). Indeed, Rossiter’s iconic work ‘To Brighton and Back for 3s 6d’, sits relatively well alongside Madox Brown’s ‘The Last of England’. Both are detailed with each character conveying emotion - and more akin to a group portrait than a typical genre painting.

In 1860, he married the artist, Frances Fripp Seares, who he possibly met during his time at Leigh’s. The pair would remain in London for the next ten years or so and raise five children.

Here, in this work from around 1870, a young red-headed girl sits by the light of a large garden window to sew. Her posture is skilfully rendered as she lifts her left hand to examine her work. It was shown at The Dudley Gallery in Piccadilly, which was opposite Burlington House and at the same exhibition was Whistler's ‘Nocturne in Grey and Gold’.

Reaching middle age, with his reputation well established, Rossiter took the position of ‘Art Master’ at Uppingham School in Rutland. He tackled it enthusiastically and undertook to re-decorate the interior with Pre-Raphaelite-inspired murals, stained glass and oil paintings. It was quite an environment for budding artists and one to stir the imagination. He worked at Uppingham for the next 24 years and was remembered fondly by his past students. An obituary referred to his “kindly disposition”.

Today, he’s represented at the V&A Museum in London and The Met Museum in New York.

Held within a later frame. A plaque bears the title ‘Sewing By Daylight’, which was added by a previous owner. The official title is ‘Very Industrious’. It also bears a date of 1827, which relates to the artist’s date of birth rather than the date of the piece.

Learn more about Charles Rossiter in our directory.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 12.5” x 14.5” / 32cm x 37cm
Year of creation: c. 1870
Provenance: The Dudley Gallery, London, 1872 (£10 10s) / 19th Century Paintings, Bonhams, London, 2003, lot 49 / With Haynes Fine Art, Broadway / Private collection, UK.
Exhibited: London, The Dudley Gallery, 1872.
Condition: Assessed and approved by our conservator. Cleaned. Revarnished.
Artist’s auction maximum: £22,000 for ‘The Escape’, Oil on canvas, Christie’s, British and European Art, London, 2020 (lot 13).
Our reference: BRV1861

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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