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Arthur John Elsley | Genre painter





Arthur John Elsley (20 November 1860 - 19 February 1952) was an English painter* of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, famous for his idyllic genre scenes* of playful children and their pets. He achieved great popularity during his life and much of his work appeared in calendars, magazines and books.
Elsley was born in London, one of six children of John Elsley, coachman and amateur artist, and Emily Freer. Elsley's father had exhibited at the British Institution Exhibition in 1845 but later in life contracted tuberculosis which forced him into early retirement.













When only eleven years old, Arthur was turning out proficient animal studies made during frequent visits to the London Zoo in Regent's Park. At age fourteen, he enrolled in the South Kensington School of Art (later the Royal College of Art). At about this time his eyesight became permanently damaged by a bout of measles.
Elsley took up the post of probationer at the Royal Academy Schools in 1876. here he was influenced by Frederick Pickersgill (Keeper of the Royal Academy), Edward Armitage (Professor of Painting), John Marshal (Professor of Anatomy), and Henry Bowler (Professor of Perspective).
A large number of his paintings were inspired by sketches made on frequent cycling trips around the countryside.
In 1878 he exhibited his first picture, entitled "A Portrait of an Old Pony" at the Royal Academy. He remained with the Academy Schools until 1882 and then began accepting commissions to do portraits of children and dogs, with an emphasis on horses. Many of his portrait commissions came from the Benett-Stanford family of politicians living at Preston Manor in Brighton-some works are still exhibited there. His first known published work was a line engraving entitled "April Floods In Eastern Counties" printed in "Young England" magazine in 1885.

Elsley was friendly with the English painters Solomon Joseph Solomon and George Grenville Manton, sharing a studio with the latter in 1876. Through Manton Elsley met Frederick Morgan, a popular painter of children.
In 1889 Elsley moved into Morgan’s studio, an arrangement that led to a good working relationship - Morgan having difficulties with painting animals, an area in which Elsley excelled.
Elsley was awarded* a silver medal in the Crystal Palace exhibition of 1891 for his painting "The Bailiff’s Daughter of Islington".

I’se Biggest

In 1892 his painting "I’se Biggest" was published, and later had to be re-engraved to satisfy public demand. The painting was of a young girl comparing her height with that of a large St. Bernard dog. The Illustrated London News printed one of Elsley’s paintings, Grandfather’s Pet as their Christmas choice for 1893.

On 11 November 1893 Elsley married Emily "Emm" Fusedale, his second cousin who had modeled for him for ten years. They had one child, Marjorie, born in 1903, and who posed for many of his subsequent paintings.
After his marriage Elsley set up his own studio, but continued his painting relationship with Frederick Morgan. After the death of Charles Burton Barber (1845–1894), Elsley became his natural successor as the foremost painter of children and their pets.
Relations between Elsley and Frederick Morgan were permanently soured when Morgan accused Elsley of using his ideas.
After this Elsley became bolder in his compositions, often depicting scenes with multiple figures, all from individual sitters visiting his studio. Hardly ever leaving his studio, the outdoors components of his paintings were from sketches he had made earlier and magazine images. It was thought that these indoor painting methods aggravated his already faulty vision.
The First World War severely reduced Elsley's output of paintings - he produced only 4 paintings from 1915-1917, one of which, a portrait of his daughter Marjorie, was exhibited at the Royal Academy. He contributed to the war effort by working on bomb-sights in a munitions factory, straining his already poor eyesight. By the early 1930s he was able only to carry out woodworking and gardening.
Arthur John Elsley died at home in Tunbridge Wells on 19 February 1952.
  • Work
At the height of his career from 1878-1927, Elsley exhibited 52 works at the Royal Academy. However, many more were shown at exhibition halls throughout the country: The Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, French Gallery, Dudley Gallery and Crystal Palace in London; The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; The Institute of Fine Art, Glasgow; Manchester City Art Gallery; The Royal Society of Artists, Birmingham; Nottingham Castle Museum; Victoria Art Gallery, Bath; The International Exhibition in Cork Ireland (1902–03).
His prints were used commercially by many firms such as calendars by Thomas D. Murphy Co., Sunlight Soap, Brook's Sewing Cottons, Peek Freans biscuits and cakes; and Bibby’s Quarterly (an illustrated journal of country and home life).
Currently Elsley's work can be seen at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery Museum in Bournemouth, in the collections of "Hartlepool Museums and Heritage Service", at Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, Liverpool, Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and the "Royal Pavilion Art Gallery and Museum", Preston Manor, 194 Preston Road, Brighton. | © Wikipedia
















































Arthur John Elsley (20 novembre 1860 - 19 febbraio 1952) è stato un pittore Britanico* del tardo periodo Vittoriano ed Edoardiano.
Arthur John Elsley nacque a Londra, quinto di sei figli, da John Elsley, cocchiere di professione ed artista per diletto, e da Emily Freer.
Da fanciullo cominciò con il prendere passione a ritrarre gli animali visti durante le frequenti visite allo zoo e le gite in campagna compiute sovente in bicicletta e all'età di quattordici anni i genitori lo iscrissero alla South Kensington School of Art (poi al Royal College of Art); durante questi anni la sua crescente bravura verrà ostacolata da una forma di morbillo che gli minerà la vista costringendolo ad una precoce progressiva miopia.
Nel 1878 espose alla Royal Academy il suo primo dipinto intitolato "A Portrait of an old Pony" e, con il 1882, terminato il ciclo di studi accademici, scelse di accettare incarichi da privati e dipingere su commissione ritraendo principalmente cavalli, cani e bambini, dipingendo spesso per la famiglia Benett-Stanford di Preston Manor in Brighton, dove sono ancora tutt'oggi conservati parte dei suoi dipinti.
E' del 1882 il dipinto I'se bigger quello che probabilmente gli darà al celebrità poichè divenne subito talemente celebre da richiedere si essere dipinto una seconda volta in un'ulteriore copia.
Amico di molti pittori celebri del periodo vittoriano Elsley, a partire dal 1889, si trasferirà nello studio di Frederick Morgan, anch'egli già affermato pittore di soggetti e scene idilliche legate all'infanzia, ma non abile nel ritrarre gli animali, cosa in cui il nostro, invece, eccelleva; tra di loro nacque un sodalizio che durerà per anni e darà risultati eccellenti da un punto di vista artistico.
Spesso nei suoi ritratti, che diverranno col tempo scene sempre più composite e complesse, ritroviamo la moglie Emm (Emily) sposata nel 1893 e la figlia Marjorie: sul finire del XIX secolo, l'incrinarsi dell'amicizia con Morgan indusse infatti Elsley ad aprirsi uno studio in proprio in cui lavorare; frattanto, la sua vista peggiorerà, sempre meno lascerà il proprio luogo di lavoro ed i suoi dipinti saranno spesso il risultato di schizzi tratti da più sedute o fatti dopo gite all'aperto.
Va comunque detto che tra il 1878-1827, periodo che rappresenta il culmine della sua carriera, Arthur John Elsley esporrà alla Royal Academy un totale di ben 52 dipinti, ma grandi furono anche le soddisfazioni che trasse dal vedere impiegate le propri immagini nei calendari di Thomas D. Murphy Co., dalla ditta di saponi Ivy Soap, da quella di filati Brook's Sewing Cottons, da quella di dolciumi Peek Freans biscuits and cakes e dal Bibby’s Quarterly, periodico di 'country and home life'.
Durante la prima guerra mondiale egli verrà persino assunto da una fabbrica di munizioni per la quale quello della miopia più che un difetto era quasi un pregio e con il 1930 abbandonerà a poco a poco la pittura per continuare a dedicarsi ad altri lavori manuali che da sempre lo dilettavano, il giardinaggio ed i lavori artigianali con il legno.
Arthur Elsley si spegnerà all'età di 92 anni nella sua dimora di Turnbridge Wells dopo una lunga vita costellata di successi e dall'appagamento derivato dall'aver infuso festosità e dolcezza in tutti coloro che hanno avuto il piacere di osservare le sue opere d'arte e credo che con il passare del tempo i suoi dipinti, divenuti icone per eccellenza dell'infanzia nel periodo edoardiano, mantengano tutt'oggi il loro carisma e la loro pregevolezza quali espressione di giocondità profonda.




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