Our venues
Our museums and galleries

Sweethearts and Wives

John Ingle Lee, 1860

WAG 9755

About this object

The vivid colours and meticulous detail in this painting show the artist's awareness of Pre-Raphaelitism.The view is from the Liverpool dock shore looking towards Birkenhead and Tranmere. St Mary's Church in Birkenhead can be clearly seen. Also visible are the windmill on Bidston Hill, and another above Tranmere. The architecture is a rather generalised mixture of chimneys and houses but some sense of the terraces of Hamilton Square in Birkenhead is conveyed.

Dockside parting scenes were popular subjects during the 1850s. The most famous of these was a picture by Henry Nelson O'Neill (1817 - 1880), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1857, entitled 'Eastwood Ho'. It showed soldiers leaving for India after the Indian Mutiny. The picture was displayed in Liverpool in 1857, and an engraving after it was published in 1860. These may have prompted Lee's choice of subject.

The men in Lee's scene are from HMS Majestic, an ex-Crimea warship anchored in the Mersey as part of the port defences. ‘Sweethearts and Wives’ is a traditional naval toast.

This painting was exhibited at the Liverpool Academy in 1861.

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    John Ingle Lee (British, born:1839, died:1882)
  • Date
    1860
  • Materials
    Oil paint; Canvas
  • Measurements
    canvas/support: 84.5 cm x 71.3 cm
  • Physical description
    A farewell dock scene. In the centre a sailor in a rowing boat on the right embraces a woman who is standing on the dock on the left wearing a green head scarf and red dress and shawl. On the left a young sailor stands with two young ladies and a young boy is leaning on barrels in the foreground. There are three sailors are in the rowing boat, two are seated and one stands holding an oar on the far right. The River Mersey and a ship can be seen in the middle distance with land beyond.
  • Related people
    The ACE / V&A Purchase Grant Fund (Part funder) ; Art Fund (Part funder) ; Dent (Previous owner) ; Friends of Merseyside County Museums and Galleries (Part funder) ; John Ingle Lee (Artist/maker) ; Norman Mr Parkinson (Previous owner) ; Norman Mrs Parkinson (Previous owner) ; Roy Miles Fine Paintings (Previous owner)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 9755; Number on Content Team Access database: 126
  • Credit line
    Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery with the assistance of the Art Fund, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Friends of Merseyside County Museums & Art Galleries and private donations in 1981
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery, Room 06
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections

Explore related

Publications

  • Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion

    Newall, Christopher; Bukantas, Ann; David Taylor

    Author: Newall, Christopher; Bukantas, Ann; David Taylor
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press and National Museums Liverpool
    Date: 2016
    Description: Featuring more than 100 works of art from celebrated Pre-Raphaelite artists, this fascinating new research into Pre-Raphaelite painters and collectors positions Liverpool as the Victorian art capital of the north. This book accompanies the exhibition Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion, held at the Walker Art Gallery in 2016.

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Dent

    Owned from: 1952-10-24
    How acquired: Bought from Christie's sale on that date
    Owned until: ?-
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Norman Mr Parkinson

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Known to be in their ownership in 1976
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Norman Mrs Parkinson

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Known to be in their ownership in 1976
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Roy Miles Fine Paintings

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1980-07
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded

Inscriptions

Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: [AL]LSOPP
    Inscription method: Paint
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Front; Image (top of barrel)
  • Inscription text: 18 JJL 60 (initials in monogram)
    Inscription method: Red paint
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Front; Lower right
  • Inscription text: MAJESTIC
    Inscription method: Paint
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Front; Image (on sailors cap)
  • Inscription text: (remains of old labels)
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note: Have been removed
    Inscription location: Back; Frame; Upper centre
  • Inscription text: 14886 NN
    Inscription method: Black crayon
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Back; Frame
  • Inscription text: To Sheffield Exhibition1968
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location:
Object view = Fine Art
Page load time: 124 ms