Rehs Galleries Inc., New York’s premier gallery specializing in 19th- and 20th-century works of art, has recently acquired The Singing Lesson, a rare Christmas-themed painting by Arthur John Elsley (1860-1952) one of England’s finest late 19th-century genre artists.
By the age of fourteen, Elsley enrolled in South Kensington School of Art, known today as the Royal College of Art. In 1876, he entered the Royal Academy Schools, studying under Frederick Pickersgill (Keeper of the Royal Academy), Edward Armitage, John Marshal, and Henry Bowler. Two years later, he presented his first work at London’s Royal Academy, A Portrait of An Old Pony.
During the 1880s, Elsley met Frederick Morgan (1847-1927), one of England’s most popular genre artists, and in 1889 they began sharing a studio. The two collaborated on many works, including Ruff Play, the only known painting to include both signatures; Rehs Galleries sold Ruff Play in 1987.
In 1894, Charles Burton Barber (1845-1894), considered the most important genre and animal artist of the period, passed away. Elsley succeeded him as the foremost exponent of paintings depicting children and pets. By the turn of the century, Elsley and Morgan became permanently estranged when Morgan accused him of stealing one of his ideas; it was also the point when Elsley became more adventurous, creating multi-figured works. The Singing Lesson, painted in 1909, is an outstanding example from this more creative time, considered the height of the artist’s career.
Here, the artist has captured two of his popular adolescent models in the interior of a home with what appears to be a Scarlet Macaw. The girls are attempting to teach their pet, perched on a wooden stand, to sing A Christmas Carol, just in time for the upcoming holiday season. Other than a glimpse of the wintery snow-filled landscape seen through the window, the artist focuses your attention on the interaction between the young ladies and their colorful exotic student.
Arthur Elsley exhibited at many important exhibition halls throughout his career, including 52 works at the Royal Academy, London. His art became so popular that many were made into prints and sold to a worldwide audience. Companies like Thomas D. Murphy Co., Sunlight Soup, Old Calabar Dog & Puppy Biscuits, Brooks Sewing Cotton, and Peek, Frean & Co. used them for calendars, advertising, show cards, as well as books and magazine covers. In fact, in 1910, The Union Pacific Tea Co. used an image of The Singing Lesson in one of their promotional advertisements.
IVOX NEWS :: SOURCE Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York