William Jabez Muckley, the leading member of the Muckley family of artists, was born in Audnam, Worcestershire in 1829, not 1837 as is often stated. Although he executed various genre scenes he is best known as a painter of expansive flower pieces; a still life of poppies appeared in these Rooms, 7 June 1996, lot 672. Muckley also practised glass engraving and was successively headmaster of Burslem, Wolverhampton and Manchester Schools of Art. He exhibited for many years at the Royal Academy, the British Institution and at Suffolk Street. He also exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, the stronghold of the Aesthetic Movement. Although not exhibited there, this picture with its dragonflies, blue and white oriental vase and gold ground, can be considered the quintessence of Aestheticism.
Muckley gives his address as 'Fairfax House, Withington, Manchester' on a label on the reverse of the frame. It is interesting to note how Fairfax appears to have been a favoured Muckley name, used for both houses and Christian names. Josiah Muckley's son, Louis Fairfax Muckley (1862-1926), also exhibited at the Royal Academy, whilst the last work exhibited there by Angelo Fairfax Muckley in 1895 was a portrait of his kinsman William Jabez.