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'The Dragon's Den' - James Campbell

A cave surrounded by trees and shrubs

  • Oil on canvas 40.1cm x 40.1cm (16" x 16")
  • Inscribed on verso relining canvas, James Campbell, Liverpool
  • Walker Art Gallery


Usually a painter of genre, Campbell was also noted among his admirers for his landscapes. This tiny canvas was painted from nature. It shows a cave known as 'Dunald Mill Hole' close to the village of Nether Kellett, near Carnforth in Lancashire. Campbell adds a romantic note with the inclusion of the figure of St George which gives the excuse for the title.

detail showing man in armour

Detail showing St George


James Campbell (1828-1893), son of a Liverpool insurance clerk, studied at the Liverpool Academy and at the Royal Academy. For a few years from about 1856-1862 he was influenced by Pre-Raphaelite ideas without however becoming involved in the gravity or moral earnestness of subject that others pursued. His was ultimately more a flirtation with the technical side of Pre-Raphaelite practice. The best of Campbell's little pictures are delightfully straightforward and minutely detailed accounts of respectable lower-middle class and artisan life in Liverpool. He is the most Dickensian of all the Pre-Raphaelites.