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FRANCES RAYNER (1834 - 1889)

Frances carte de visite
Above: Frances in her carte de visite of 1862.

Right: Bourges Cathedral, possibly before 1867.
It sold for $180 in 2005 at
Apple Tree Auction Center New York.
Bourges Cathedral

Frances was born in Piccadilly, London on 19th August 1834, and was christened at Newman Street Catholic Apostolic Church, St Marylebone, London, on 8th February 1835 - along with Samuel and Louise. In common with her siblings, she benefited from advice from other artists of the day, and like Nancy she received sketches from David Roberts from his trips abroad.

Compared with her sisters, Frances was a late entrant to exhibiting (being at least 25 years old) and, like her father, she specialised in architectural subjects with a religious leaning. She only had one painting exhibited in London, a watercolour titled "Church of St Andre, Antwerp" at the Suffolk Street Gallery in 1861 (when she was living in Brighton).

She travelled extensively on the Continent, possibly visiting some of the places David Roberts had drawn, and one of her paintings was of the Cathedral in the Mosque at Cordoba - though whether she actually visited it or based it on a drawing is unknown.

The painting at right failed to sell at an auction by in 2014. The subject was not known, but likely in France or the Netherlands. The bad reflection doesn't help, but we would welcome identification of the place if anyone knows it. We don't have a date, but 1860s are likely.
unknown scene

unknown scene
Above: Port Dieppe - 1884. But for the year, we might have imagined the portly figure with white hair to be Frances's father, Samuel. Frances was in this area in 1866, and a possibility is that she made sketches for this painting then, when he was still alive, but didn't turn out the painting itself until the year of the title.

It's not clear how much of her travelling was before her marriage (as his second wife) to Charles Louis George Emanuel Copinger (known as Charles) at Kensington, London in 1866. Following her marriage, she lived in Brussels for some years, and in the Copinger family was known as Fanny. Her first child, Annette Frances Copinger, was born there on 26th October 1867. The census of 1871 has them back in England living at 43 Duncan Terrace, Islington, with Charles
The Copinger children given as a clergyman of the Catholic Apostolic Church aged 49, Frances an artist at 30, Annetta now 3 and Charles's unmarried sister Clara (58) as governess. Frances's second child, Ernest Edwin Rayner Copinger, was born that year at Windsor, presumably with her parents, Ann and Samuel.

The picture at left shows Frances's two children, Annette (known as Netta in the family) with her brother Ernest. The picture is undated and carries no photographer's name. [Netta does not feature further in the story here, but she later went to live with her Aunt Rose, so there is more about her on Rose's page.]

If you've visited this site before, you may have seen a picture of Frances with her husband and Netta as a young baby. Alas not! Elizabeth Yates of Melbourne Australia wrote to point out that the same photo appears in a book on Edward VII with the caption Edward and [Princess] Alexandra with their first-born, Prince Albert Victor, in 1864. She also noted that there were two replicas of the Danish flag attached to the baby's dress, presumably because Princess Alexandra came from Denmark - and yes, the "Rayner" photo had them, too. Sadly, the Rayner family had an intruder in their collection! It is more understandable when (a) Frances did have a reasonable resemblance to the Princess, and (b) no other photograph was known to exist of her husband. The likely explanation is that a later relative saw the likeness in Frances and miscaptioned the photo.

This is Frances's painting of the Kapellbrucke und Wasserthurm, Luzern (Chapel Bridge and Water Tower in Lucerne, Switzerland), the oldest wooden bridge in Europe, spanning the Reuss River. The painting seems rather faded, though it isn't entirely certain that this picture is in finished form, even though it has Frances's faint monogram at lower left, and her married name Copinger has also been incorporated into the painting (though neither show up in the image displayed here).

[The bridge was built 1333, survived a destructive fire in 1993 and was subsequently restored. The water tower is sometimes referred to as the Watchtower.]

The brief mention of Frances in English Female Artists merely notes that: Frances (Mrs Copinger) gave up painting on her marriage, though she was thought to have continued to paint for her own pleasure until around 1875 (for example, it's possible she joined Louise on a European tour in 1873). However, we are relying mainly on Ellen Clayton's book here, which was published in 1876 when Frances's second child was only five years old.

We initially thought that Frances had possibly changed her mind and returned to professional painting as the children grew older and less dependent, but evidence from the Copinger family and especially Paul Copinger's patient research is that the marriage broke up without divorce. The cause of the break-up is unknown to either family's descendants but may have been personal to the two, since the families had been on friendly terms. However, Frances was his second marriage partner at a time when divorce was difficult and it seems Charles simply left her and went off to America, which he had first visited when he was 14. There in Baltimore, with or without divorce, he married his third wife Mary Margaret May in 1878, had two daughters and a son, and died 9th May 1913. [Our thanks to Ian Copinger for additional information here.]

The disunion occasioned Frances's return to the Rayner family home in Windsor and may have released - but more likely compelled - Frances to take up professional painting again.
Eastern church
Frances's signatureAbove is an untitled painting of what we first thought might perhaps be an Eastern European church. It was submitted to us by Glynne Rowlands of Surrey. On Glynne's death in 2014, the painting was kindly gifted to us by his family. We were able to see it more clearly, rephotograph it and tried again to identify it. For a time we thought it was Antwerp Cathedral - but it definitely isn't. The painting may be original, or possibly based on an engraving by another artist which is clearly of the same scene and very likely in Holland or a nearby country. So HELP!!! If you can identify the location, please let us know it. We can't sleep at night for the torment! OK, we exaggerate, but our email/postal addresses are at the bottom of this page.

Our image at left shows how Frances signed the same painting towards the bottom right, as F.Copinger nee Rayner 1880 (with an acute accent floating over the wrong 'e' of 'nee' in this instance). Examination of the painting itself shows that what might appear to be a blurred further word is just the coincidence of an over-long underline passing under a patch of floor colouring. Although it has her backward curled 'F' this signature only hints at the way the following 'o' is usually nestled into the 'F' (see others below).

Untitled picture of a room in a castle
wall detail Frances's signature (2) Above, we are indebted to Peter Pentz who drew attention to this painting that went to auction in Aarhus, Denmark on 14th October 2004, through

No title was given for the painting, only that it was gouache, measuring 65 x 55 cm. However, Tom Kerr of Virginia, USA, has pointed out that the scene almost certainly shows Haddon Hall's Banqueting Hall

At left is a detail from the painting, showing how evenly Frances did the window diamond-leading, and how she represented the transition of light falling on the stonework.

Above right, we have another signature close-up. In this case, the date has been omitted, clipped off the bottom, or possibly just hidden by the frame, but it gives a clearer view of her signature style after her marriage - this time with the accent in the right place and the 'o' nestling into the capital C.
The Baptistery at Canterbury Frances certainly liked religious subjects, and this one is no different, though it does have a lovely whimsical suggestion of Tolkien or Disney about it. It's Canterbury Baptistery, and was signed (deep in the flowers) "F. Copinger née Rayner 1884". It was auctioned by Liveauctioneers for a Pittsburgh gallery on 10/10/2009, and nicely described as "a detailed atmospheric rendering of Canterbury Cathedral Baptistery". Estimated sale price was $500-$1000.

The Baptistery at Canterbury The small image is The Baptistery, Canterbury Cathedral, 1855 a photo by British photographer Francis Bedford (1816-1894) from nearly 30 years before the painting. Note how Frances shortened the height. The photo is now copyright of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Go to their site to see a larger view of the V&A photo.

Frances Copinger - The Tomb At right The Tomb, dated 1882 and auctioned by Bonhams in August 2006. Until we saw the picture, we thought The Tomb was a subject from her time on the continent. Instead, Frances made her own painting of the Dacre Monument at Herstmonceux when visiting her sister Margaret (Margaret's page has one of her own versions). It sold for a paltry £70, embarrassing even the buyer, Tom Kerr of Virginia. He bought it long-distance simply because paintings by Frances are rare and he wanted to have one by her. But he didn't expect much because its image made it look dowdy. The real thing proved a revelation. It was so bright and fresh that the family ran a check that it was genuine - and are now delighted by their bargain.

Frances - Gothick Knight's Tomb No mistake: it's the same scene but a different rendition, Gothick Knight's Tomb, Herstmonceux, kindly sent to us by Tina Duly. Not all artists had rich patrons. Most painted to put bread on the table, pay their rent, and save for a pensionless old age. There was no stigma in painting multiple copies, so if a picture was popular they were very happy to turn out more - but they had no copying method other than painting the scene again.

To stave off the boredom of exact repetition, artists might often challenge themselves to make the scene new to themselves and individual for the clients. And although they would remember their earlier version, they would probably not have it to hand and would therefore work from their studies of the scene. They might also want to correct things they thought were unsatisfactory in the first painting. Here Frances has painted quite different light conditions, the banners have been adjusted to show more stonework, the stone decoration above the tomb is slightly different, and so on. In some versions the chest might be shut or different elements of its contents in view - oddments of armour, chalices, etc. In one, the clover shape at the top of the window has been completely changed - remember, this is art, not photography. So if you come across a version that is in very much the same style but has lots of detail differences, that will not make your version a forgery. But in the Rayners' case - as we have learned several times - if you don't have a signature it could well bring into question which member of the family actually painted it!

After the marriage break-up in the late 1870s, the split left Frances with two young children, and possibly a difficulty in housing and caring for them. Certainly her daughter Netta was passed into the hands of Nancy's sister Rose around 1879, and Rose's page and its footnote outline what happened to her in her long life. In 1881 Frances and Ernest were lodgers with Henry Sevenoakes (a plumber) and his family at Acre House, Bachelors' Acre, New Windsor.

Frances Copinger - Barons Chapel Haddon Hall  
window detail

In common with most of the family, Frances painted Baron's Chapel at Haddon Hall. Jonathan Cuff kindly sent us this example, which had been in his family for forty years (and possibly much longer). He thought it had been acquired by his grandfather, who had lived in Barnes, London.

Points of interest are the figure detail in the window, the texture given to some of the woodwork, and the 1883 signature (not 1885 even though it looks like it) of simply F. Copinger.

Frances Copinger 1883 signature

Frances died a year before her mother in New Windsor in the September quarter of 1889. She was thus the youngest adult of her generation to die apart from Nancy. By that stage Ernest was about 17. Another of Frances's sisters, Grace, had married into the Catty family and had five children of her own at 24 Rye Hill Park in Camberwell, and she took Ernest into her family. By 19, Ernest had become a merchant's clerk. He produced at least one very acceptable oil painting, and wrote articles in the press, but little more is currently known about him, except that he died (cause unknown) towards the end of 1904 when he would have been about 25.

Our thanks to Paul Copinger for some Copinger detail here, and more on the Copinger family can be found at

Finally, a painting which is NOT from this family of Rayners. The painting below was on sale in September 2004 at Treadwell Gallery of Oakland Park, Illinois. It was listed as "F. Rayner (German, 20th century), In the Tyroleon Alps [not Tyrolean], c. 1930...". Initially we thought it might be a guessed caption (something done frequently with Louise's paintings). Support for this hypothesis came from the family, as indeed Frances did turn out one or two alpine pictures, and unfinished canvasses still survived. However...

Tyrolean Alps

Since the picture first appeared on this page, more have turned up, and images of them have been sent to us for comment. In at least one case, the photographs made it obvious that the painting dated a long time after Frances's death, and the others were of a closely similar style. So if you are in possession of a winter wonderland painting signed by one F. Rayner, German artist, then that is exactly what you've got. Sorry, it isn't by Frances.

Sales are infrequent, and may not occur at auction. Those noted above appear to be the most recent. Only the price given is known to us, so it may include or exclude seller's premium, buyer's premium, tax, whatever.

An example of her work is in the Art Gallery & Museum at Brighton.
                Harry Drummond, November 2014.

Please take note: we claim no art expertise, and in no way do we offer provenance for any paintings. What you see here was compiled out of interest in Louise Rayner's paintings and those by her family, but is based on sometimes very fragmentary evidence. As such, it is inevitable that there will be errors, though we naturally hope to reduce these over time.

We would gratefully receive any information or corrections that will help us to fill the gaps and resolve unproved links - for example confirmation of dates of birth, death, etc., and details of other addresses the family lived at (and roughly when). Images of any of the family's paintings would also be very welcome. Thank you!

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