A charming Victorian oil on canvas by the ever-popular painter, Thomas James Soper (1836-1890). It’s a beautiful example of traditional British landscape painting from the mid-19th-century.
On the left of the composition, we see a boy walking alongside a donkey, perhaps returning home. He’s turning his head to look across the river towards a distant church and several grazing cows. The brow of a substantial hill is visible on the horizon.
Soper was primarily a landscape painter and he travelled to various parts of the UK to capture picturesque views. He was particularly fond of the countryside in Devon and spots along the Thames.
During the mid-19th-century, rural landscapes were increasingly popular with the growing middle-classes. Art was becoming a little more accessible and painters such as Thomas James Soper, Thomas Creswick (1811-1869) and Alfred Vickers (1786-1868) were meeting that demand.
Soper’s approach is rooted in British romanticism and stems from John Constable’s passion for the countryside. But it’s also noticeably different due to its quicker, more obvious, brushwork. He probably painted most of this outdoors before returning to his studio to add refinements.
Thomas James Soper exhibited widely during his lifetime including at the Royal Society of Artists, British Institution, Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists, and Royal Institute of Painters. His works are held in several museums.
The painting is signed/dated in the lower left and housed within an impressive 19th-century Rococo revival foliate frame.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 31½” x 23” / 80cm x 59cm
Year of creation: 1858
Condition: Light craquelure in areas. Recently cleaned. No obvious signs of restoration under UV. Frame with wear including cracks and losses - particularly in the lower-left corner. However, the frame does seem to be holding together well following repairs.
Artist’s auction highlight: £4,000 achieved for ‘Shipping Off A Pier’ at Bonhams in 1998.