Kennington is best known for his social realist pictures depicting hardship and poverty. In 1987, an exhibition entitled Hard Times at Manchester City Art Gallery, included two such works entitled Widowed and Fatherless (no. 97) and The Pinch of the Poor (no. 98). His training at the Liverpool School of Art and subsequently in Paris at the Académie Julian made him aware of new trends in painting and he went on to become a founder member of the New English Art Club in 1886.