This late 19th-century oil painting by British artist William Harris Weatherhead (1843-1903) depicts a cottage interior with a woman sewing.
Raised in Kentish Town, London, William Harris Weatherhead painted idyllic rustic interiors often with women undertaking various handicrafts. Many of these are coastal and feature traditional fishing communities - women wait by open doorways for ‘the fleet’ to return or sit hopefully by a crib in anticipation of the day’s catch. Whereas others depict women by the light of a cottage window, sewing while seemingly lost in their thoughts.
London in 1877 was a far stretch from the picture-postcard lifestyle of Weatherhead’s genre scenes. The City was often engulfed in acrid pea soup fog created by pollution, which Dickens explained made all things “greasy and clammy to the touch”. Industry was taking over and if the air didn’t kill you, there was the ever-present risk of disease or murder. Londoners, in particular, needed an escape and, being one himself, Weatherhead understood this.
These scenes of Victorian rural bliss can sometimes pass us by but in the 1870s they were a vital tonic for the citizens of industrialised British cities.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 23” x 17” / 58cm x 43cm
Year of creation: 1877
Condition: Artwork presents well. One area of restoration. Vanished darkened and could be revarnished if preferable. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £8,645
William Harris Weatherhead
William Harris Weatherhead exhibited at the Royal Academy, British Institution and Suffolk Street. His works are held in various public collections including at The Victoria & Albert Museum. He was elected a full Member of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour in 1885.
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