ANN RAYNER - ENGRAVERAnn Manser was born 29th October 1802 and showed promise in painting and engraving. Her father was a successful London publisher, William Manser, and allowed or even encouraged her artistic inclinations - which, of course were fairly common activities for the ladies of well-to-do families of the era. In Ann's case, she had genuine talent and exhibited some of her work. Through that she would become the matriarch of the Rayner artistic dynasty.
Left: Ann in 1875, when she was already 73 years old. We don't currently have a younger image of her. Note: Ann's name appears variously with and without a final 'e' in references, and in her clear, confidently-written letter of 10th May 1848 referred to below, she signs herself 'Anne'. But family usage appears to be 'Ann' so that style has been used here.
Although Ann was both a painter and an engraver, it was for the latter that she became successful in her
time, and is mainly known today. While it isn't immediately apparent how she came to meet Samuel Rayner,
London was the main exhibiting centre for art, and they may have been introduced to each other in one of the
galleries. Although they enjoyed each others' company, Ann's father was far less pleased with their mutual
regard. As Samuel was 4 years younger than Ann, he may have been thought too young; but at this period,
getting a daughter suitably married was a serious (sometimes desperate) aim in every society family's life,
so William Manser must have had significant misgivings about Samuel's prospects or the match itself.|
Above, a full view and close-up of Ann's version of Raphael's Madonna of the chair, a copy of a copy (the original is in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence), and without St. John from the original. Florentine multicoloured versions on marble were popular from the 1840's and this is an early trial of that type.In 1823/4 the young couple are believed to have solved the dilemma by eloping to get married before it could be prevented. Following the marriage at St George The Martyr Church in 1824 (according to Pallot's Marriage Index for England: 1780-1837, but not identifying which of that name) they lived briefly in London. Ann had their first child, William, in the same year - but he apparently died at birth or in early infancy. A daughter Ann (Nancy) followed in 1826, whereupon the young family moved to live in Matlock Bath in Derbyshire. Further children followed, but Ann still found time to turn out exquisitely detailed black Ashford marble engravings, including Matlock Bath (see below) and the frontage of Chatsworth House.
In 1842, the family moved south again to London, probably intending to spend the rest of their lives there. On 10th May 1848 Ann sent a letter from 15 Berners Street, London, to Henry Pelham-Clinton, 4th Duke of Newcastle under Lyne. The letter acknowledged the receipt of a cheque for five pounds and thanked the Duke for the 'kind consideration' displayed in the letter he had written to her and her husband, though the nature of this consideration is unknown to us as the Duke apparently did not keep a record of his outgoing correspondence.
Shortly after, Ann gave birth to another son, Richard, and he completed the new Rayner generation, who were as follows:
Above: "Matlock Bath" engraved by Ann Rayner on Ashford black marble.The engraving is in Buxton art gallery, behind glass in a darkened alcove, making flash essential and reflections almost impossible to avoid - hence the bright area at the top. In fact part of the sky has been cropped here to reduce the distraction of the flash.
The engraving has a number of blemishes on the surface of the marble. Those in the sky have been edited out, but not those in the landscape.
Above right: The engraving is complete with its own leather protective case, though the engraving is of course opened up for viewing. The wording on the case (in capitals) is "Matlock Bath drawn from nature and engraved with the diamond by Rayner". No first name appears on this engraving, nor on the Chatsworth one, possibly to increase the price by hiding the sex of the creator.Engravings like this were known as moonlight sketches and are now rare as the vogue for them lasted only from around 1830 to 1850.
Above: the centre of Ann's Matlock Bath engraving in close-up.
This image and the one below were supplied by Christopher Cavey, and as with the Matlock Bath example, the engraving above has suffered one or two fine but long scars. As far as possible, these have been edited out here. There are some small white glows in places, and we assume these to be blemishes as well. The readiness of the stone to scar demonstrates why Ann offered the engravings in a protective pouch. Conishead Priory still exists near Ulverston, Cumbria, but has gone through multiple ownerships and modifications since Ann's engraving.
|Harry Drummond, 2013.|