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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

Subject

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

Chronology

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.