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William Bromley III (fl. 1835-1888)
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William Bromley III (fl. 1835-1888)

'Knuckle Down'

Details
William Bromley III (fl. 1835-1888)
'Knuckle Down'
signed 'W. Bromley' (lower right)
oil on canvas
20 x 24¼ in. (50.8 x 61.6 cm.)
Provenance
D.T. Evans; (+) Christie's, London, 12 February 1886, lot 80 (20 gns to Davidson).
with Roy Miles, London, from whom acquired by the present owner in 1982.
Literature
D. Mancoff, The Return of King Arthur, 1995, illus. p. 104.
Exhibited
Possibly London, Royal Society of British Artists, 1871, no. 337, as 'Playing at Marbles'.
Victorian Childhood, 1986, cat. p. 34, pl. 14.
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

Lot Essay

William Bromley, son of an artist and grandson of a prominent engraver, exhibited widely throughout his long career at the Society of British Artists (Suffolk Street), the Royal Academy and the British Institution. Several of his favourite subjects included pictures of children at play: a comparable composition is illustrated in Christopher Wood, Paradise Lost, pl. 145.

Games of marbles were a popular pastime amongst Victorian children of all classes. Agates ('aggies'), or 'swirlies' and 'clearies' were hoarded by the more fortunate, while most village children, as in this picture, played with marbles of plain clay. It is unclear whether the Victorians, and the seventeenth century Dutch before them, found any didactic message in depictions of this game of skill. It is certainly interesting to reflect how to 'knuckle down', as the boy to the right of this picture is doing, survives into the working culture of the twenty-first century as a phrase denoting the need to concentrate.
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