Edith Hayllar (1860-1948)
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Edith Hayllar (1860-1948)

A Summer Shower

Edith Hayllar (1860-1948)
A Summer Shower
signed and dated 'EDITH HAYLLAR 1883' (lower left) and inscribed ' 'A Summer Shower'/Miss Edith Hayllar/Castle Priory/...ford' (on a fragmentary label on the reverse)
oil on panel
21 x 17 3/8 in. (53.4 x 44.2 cm.)
Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 10 July 1970, lot 60, when acquired by the present owner.
C. Wood, 'The Great Victorian Painting Revival', Auction, November 1970, p. 40, illus. p. 41.
M.A. Findlay, 'Forbes Saves the Queen', Arts Magazine, February 1973, p. 30, illus. p. 27.
C. Wood, 'The Artistic Family Hayllar', Connoisseur, Part I: April 1974, illus. p. 4, Part II: May 1974, p. 6, illus. p. 7 and on the cover.
S. B. Sherrill, 'Current and Coming, Victorian Painting', Antiques, September 1974, illus. p. 332.
'Major Exhibit to Key 'U' Victorian Festival', The Minneapolis Star, 18 September 1974, illus..
'A Glimpse of Victoria's World', Minneapolis Tribune, 22 September 1974, illus..
C. Nelson, 'Exhibit wins respect for long-neglected Victorian paintings', St. Paul Sunday Pioneer Press, Family Life Section, 29 September 1974, p. 1, illus. p. 1.
L. King, 'Heroism began at home', Art News, November 1974, p. 45.
R. Shickel, The World of Tennis, New York, 1975, p. 42, illus.
C. Wood, Victorian Panorama, Paintings of Victorian Life, London, 1976, p. 186, pl. 197.
M. Kelly, Highlights from the Forbes Magazine Galleries, New York, 1985, p. 95, illus. opposite.
S. Casteras, Images of Victorian Womanhood in English Art, London, 1987, p. 157, pl. 130.
C. Wood, Paradise Lost, Paintings of English Country Life and Landscape 1850-1914, London, 1988, pp. 192, 194, pl. 171.
P. Byrde, Nineteenth Century Fashion, London, 1992, p. 165, pl. 124 and illus. on back cover.
J. Treuherz, Victorian Painting, London, 1993, p. 178, pl.144.
C. Wood, The Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, 1995 ed., vol. II, illus. p. 241.
L. Lambourne, Victorian Painting, London, 1999, p. 228, pl. 279.
M. Cowling, Victorian Figurative Painting, Domestic Life and the Contemporary Social Scene, London, 2000, p. 82, pl. 57.
London, Royal Academy, 1883, no. 420.
The Art and Mind of Victorian England, 1974, no. 17.
The Royal Academy (1837-1901) Revisited, 1975-6, no. 22.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Austin, Texas, University Art Museum; Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute; Brooklyn, The Brooklyn Museum, Women Artists: 1550-1950, 1977, no. 103.
32 Victorian Paintings from the Forbes Magazine Collection, 1981.
The Substance or the Shadow, 1982, no. 38.
The Pre-Raphaelites and their Times, 1985, no. 71.
The Painter was a Lady, 1986-7, no. 13a.
London, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, Love All, the Romance of Tennis, 1989.
Pintura Victoriana, 1993, no. 105.
A Struggle for Fame, 1994, cat. p. 60.
Ladies of the Brush, 1994-5, no. 16.
Yale Center for British Art, Victorian Women Artists and Authors, 1994.
The Pursuit of Leisure, 1997-8, no. 46.
The Defining Moment, 2000-1, no. 16.
Special notice
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis
Sale room notice
Please note that this painting is oil on card and not as stated in the catalogue.

Lot Essay

'To my mind this is one of the most charming genre scenes of the nineteenth century, a rustic, anglicised version of Tissot. It is wonderfully redolent of an English summer afternoon, with sets of inconsequential tennis, showers, lemonade, and tea doubtless to follow'. So wrote Christopher Wood in an article for the Connoisseur magazine of 1974 (op. cit.), of this, one of the most widely exhibited, widely illustrated and deservedly popular of all the Forbes pictures.

Edith was one of the four artistic daughters of James Hayllar who exhibited alongside their father at the Royal Academy in the late 1880s and throughout the 1890s. It is typical of the spirit in which Kip Forbes has formed the collection that examples by each are included in this sale, see lot 100 by James Hayllar, lot 267 by Jessica, lot 262 by Mary, and lot 263 by Kate. Edith was the second daughter, two years the junior of her sister Jessica, and with her the most accomplished of the family. Not only were the sisters close in age, but they enjoyed each other's company. The family recall them setting their easels in the hall of their house, Castle Priory, on the banks of the Thames, near Wallingford, in Berkshire, at either end of the room, each choosing a different subject, but able to converse. The house provided the sisters with their principal inspiration, and perhaps it was sibling rivalry that spurred them to produce such memorable work. Each received a thorough training from their father, James, who from ten till four each day taught them drawing and perspective before allowing them to paint. Evenings were spent modelling in clay, and print-making with either etching or mezzotint. Such tuition stood each of them in good stead, for their pictures show the remarkable degree of skill that was often achieved in the field of Victorian genre painting, even by its more modest practitioners.

Edith liked to depict the aftermath of various sporting activities: lunch after shooting, or tea after boating on the lake. The family enjoyed leisurely exercise - games of croquet were innumerable - and given the changeable nature of the British summer the incident in the present picture was no doubt a not infrequent occurrence. This, and the fact that her brothers and sisters would have been happy to pose for her (the siblings numbered nine in total), accounts for the delightful informality of the composition. The young man to the left may have been a nephew of the artist George Dunlop Leslie who had a neighbouring house called Riverside, and who later married one of the Hayllar family. The mania for tennis had swept the country after its invention in 1874, and was especially popular with the young, for whom it provided better exercise than archery or croquet. The first Wimbledon championships for men were held in 1874 while those for women followed in 1884. The game was subsequently captured by many artists, perhaps most memorably by Lavery, whose pictures, like this, are as much about summer as they are about tennis.

Edith exhibited not only at the Royal Academy from 1881 to 1897 but also at the Royal Society of British Artists, the Institute of Oil Painters, and the Dudley Gallery, then much favoured by women artists. After her marriage in 1900 to Rev. Bruce Mackay she lived in Sutton Courtenay where her husband was vicar. Curiously she appears not to have painted after leaving her family, and indeed her granddaughter was unaware that her grandmother had painted at all, until after her death in 1948. The enchanted life lived at Castle Priory seems to have been so intrinsic to her art, that she lost inspiration after leaving it.

We are grateful to Christopher Wood for his help in preparing this entry.


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