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At Hale, Lancashire

Title: At Hale, Lancashire
Date: between1860 and 1870
Artist: William Davis
Date of birth:
Nationality: Irish
Date of death:
Materials: Oil; Canvas
Information: Hale is a village approximately seven miles from Liverpool on the northern bank of the Mersey. The artist could easily have travelled there and back within a day in order to paint on the spot. The cottage is identifiable with one still standing at the Liverpool end of the village.

The critic John Ruskin disapproved of Davis's works, considering them, like some of Ford Madox Brown's landscapes, not grand enough in conception or choice of subject. The suggested parallel with Madox Brown is just, although Davis never equalled his skills as a painter, for it is precisely the 'matter of fact' unheroic quality of these little works that is their peculiar strength, and merits their consideration alongside Madox Brown's Finchley and Hendon landscapes of the 1850s.

Eighteen of Davis's oil paintings are in the Walker Art Gallery collection, and there are usually three or four on public display. 'Hale' probably dates from the early 1860s and is typically brightly coloured and precisely detailed.

A review in The Liverpool Mercury, Wednesday 28 October 1863, of 419 ‘Study at Hale’ exhibited at the Liverpool Academy, could well apply to this painting: 'An intensely pre-Raphaelite picture, in which a large amount of labour has been bestowed, but which gives little pleasure to the looker-on. There is a metallic coldness about it which is not found in nature. What the patches of yellow mean to the left we cannot imagine.'
Accession no: WAG 1115
Credit line: Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery in 1904
Location: Item not currently on display