WILLIAM SHAYER, THE ELDER [attributed]
Lunching in a Wooded Glade
Oil on canvas | unsigned
Item # 309JPZ22P
A gorgeous example of the idealized and romanticized picturesque landscape, this brilliant painting captures a group of travelers breaking for lunch in a wooded glade. A surreal and almost heavenly light falls on the travelers through the thick of the trees overhead, casting a golden glow on the gentle grasses and fallen trees where the children play and the group relaxes. One man tends to the carefully articulated horses while the eldest member of the group sits on a log enjoying a bite. Note the exquisite handling of the trees and foliage.
The painting is unsigned by very closely associated with the work of William Shayer, the Elder. And while it cannot be absolutely noted as his work, the quality, brushwork and close likeness to many other works he completed are compelling and result in a reasonably firm attribution to his hand.
WILLIAM SHAYER, THE ELDER
William Shayer Sr., originally from Southampton, began his artistic journey by painting rush-bottom chairs. He then relocated to Guildford, establishing himself as a respected coach-painter known for his high-quality coats of arms. This reputation led to a notable commission: painting the funeral escutcheon for the 4th Earl of Richmond. While Shayer continued his work with coats of arms and heraldic imagery, he also developed a passion for landscape painting during his leisure time.
A trip back to Southampton to visit his family introduced Shayer to Jock Wilson, a skilled seascape painter. Under Wilson's guidance, Shayer honed his skills, eventually excelling in painting coastal and sea views, surpassing Wilson himself. Choosing to reside at Bladon Lodge in Shirley, close to Southampton, Shayer appreciated the area's stunning skies and chose to stay despite invitations to move to London.
Shayer's talents as a self-taught artist were evident in his diverse genre compositions. While he always held a special place for sea and coastal scenes, his work encompassed a wide range of British life. He depicted gamekeepers, gypsies, shepherds, hawkers, townspeople at markets or country inns, and farmers engaged in their daily tasks. In 1810, Shayer married Sarah Lewis Earle, with whom he had several children, including William Shayer the Younger, Charles Waller Shayer, and Henry Thring Shayer.
In 1862, he was granted membership in the Society of British Artists. Over his career, he presented 338 paintings at the Society's exhibitions from 1825 to 1870, in addition to exhibiting six works at the Royal Academy and 82 at the British Institution in London. Shayer's artistic legacy lies in his genre compositions, which prominently featured fishermen, gamekeepers, gypsies, and other figures from various walks of life. His significant contribution to 19th-century English landscape art places him alongside renowned artists like John Frederick Herring and Thomas Sidney Cooper.
Artist Listings & Bibliography:
- E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. XII, Gründ, 2006, p. 1095-1097
Measurements: 17 5/8" H x 21 1/4" W [canvas]; 23 3/4" H x 28" W [frame]
Contemporary frame. Cleaned in the last twenty years, surface presenting beautifully and ready-to-place. Very faint age appropriate surface craquelure throughout. Under UV examination, surface is a bit difficult to fully examine due to the flaring of more recent varnish, though there are hints of inpainting around the extreme edges of the painting where the frame would rub, a few spots in the lower right extreme corner and a spot above the woman in the red dress. A very fine presentation.