A young country maid spares a few scraps of food for her young lamb in this bucolic scene of Victorian countryside life by Arthur John Elsley. A very early offering from the artist who would become famous for his idyllic genre scenes of children at play and displays of hearth & home.
Arthur John Elsley was born in London on November 20, 1860. His earliest known work was a portrait sketch of a little dog, entitled Vic (painted in 1871). At the age of 14 he entered the South Kensington School of Art. In 1876 at age sixteen, Elsley became a probationer at the Royal Academy School, and only two years later exhibited his first painting of a pony.
Although he was born in London, and lived there for most of his life, Elsley preferred the countryside. Even in the days when cycling was a rarity, he thought nothing of pedaling fifty miles out of the city in search of suitable material. As it were, English collectors had a growing appreciation for paintings depicting everyday family life. The new affluent middle class was particularly interested in scenes of pretty children with their pets rendered in playful settings. Arthur John Elsley, was one of the most well known and sensitive of these artists. His portraits of sweet, sometimes mischievous, children and pets were in high demand.
By 1887 Arthur was sharing a studio with George Manton (a portrait painter) and it as through Manton that Arthur met Fred Morgan. In 1889 Elsley shared Morgan’s studio in St. John’s Wood, which was a great help to Morgan because he had trouble painting animals – now Elsley could fill the gap.
In 1891 Elsley won a sliver medal at the Crystal Palace Exhibition and in 1893 he married Emily Fusedale (his second cousin). Their wedding took place on November 11th at St. Thomas’s Parish Church, and they rented a home in St. John’s Wood. Arthur and Emma had one child, Marjorie, who was born on August 24, 1903. The birth of his daughter saw the beginning of a highly successful period of children and animal paintings – many featuring Marjorie.
Elsley was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy; showing many works from 1878 – 1917 including: A Stitch in Time (1887); I’se Biggest!(1892); Wait a Minute! (1894) and Good Night! (1915).
Elsley also exhibited his works at many of the other major exhibition halls throughout Great Britian, including: Royal Society of Artists, Birmingham; Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts; Walker Art Gallery; Manchester City Art Gallery; Royal Society of British Artists; and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.
Arthur John Elsley died in 1952.