Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Arthur John Elsley - Caught in the Act



signed and dated l.l.: ARTHUR J. ELSLEY/ 1894


oil on canvas
32 by 24 in.
http://www.sothebys.com/app/live/lot/LotDetail.jsp?sale_number=L07131&live_lot_id=70

Terry Parker, Golden Hours. The Paintings of Arthur J. Elsley 1860-1952, 1998, p. 29.

Arthur John Elsley was born in London on 20th November 1860. After training at the Royal Academy Schools he made a living painting commissioned portraits of human, equestrian, and canine subjects. In 1889 he joined the studio of established artist, and leading exponent of juvenile scenes, Fred Morgan (1847-1927). Morgan believed in the old adage every picture tells a story. Elsley now turned his portraiture skills to successful story telling. He began by painting children with a pet, or pets and other animals. Here he is displaying his talent for capturing movement, and the joy in the humorous moment, carefully observing the comic retreat of the chickens.

Fox Terriers, collies, and St. Bernards were Elsley's favourite canine models in the last decade of the 19th century. Terriers and their pups appear in numerous of his paintings including Wait A Minute 1893, Good-bye 1894, Breaking Them In 1895, and Safe Quarters circa 1895.

The same girl and smooth-haired fox terrier appear in another humorous scene painted around the same time. It was reproduced as a colour print entitled Second Thoughts. The girl is holding her pet up to a cat on a wall, who is hissing - jealously guarding a lobster claw meal.

Elsley exhibited one work at the Royal Academy in 1894 and two in 1895, but not this one. It may have been a commission as there is no exhibition record of this painting.

We are very grateful to Terry Parker for preparing this catalogue entry.

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