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The Rayners: Intro  //  Ann  Frances  Louise  Margaret  Nancy  Richard  Rose  Samuel  //  Known Paintings  Sources
Regional pages for Louise Rayner:   Scotland   Northern England   Wales and the west Midlands   South and South West
Eastern England   London and its Region   South Eastern England   Louise Abroad     Town pages:   Chester   Flint   Dudley



Louise is known to have travelled across the English Channel into Northern France, but how much farther she got is uncertain since it was a common practice for artists to copy other artists' work to learn their technique (or because they liked the subject and never expected to go there themselves), and such a painting surviving without explanation can indicate a visit that was never actually made. On the other hand, it may just be that the record of the trip has been lost.

We only have five European images so far, and there are queries about some of them. The one exception is the superb view of Rheims Cathedral, France shown here to the right, which went to auction in late 2003. As with so many of her pictures, the drama of the architecture - in this case the cathedral spire climbing towards the heavens - is paired with teeming human life down at ground level, and here we see two groups of people interacting in the foreground, while just behind them, a slash of sunlight between the buildings spotlights a man apparently trying to open a door. Beyond them are many more people - not artificially posed for the paintbrush but caught in the midst of going about their business.
Rheims Cathedral

European courtyard   NUREMBERG

We've had this up for a while with no known location and its unhelpful title A Court Yard. You would think that the twin towers in the distance would be quick to match, but that didn't initially prove to be the case and we thought that one of the 20th century's two World Wars might have been the agent to remove them. Thankfully Mark Edwin Arstall made a further search and found photographic proof that the scene does still exist, and it's the Schoner Brunnen fountain in Hauptplatz, Nuremberg with St Sebaldus church behind and the old Rathaus to the right.

There is also a question mark on the artist. Louise's signature is clearly visible on the painting, but like one of the Conway paintings there is a doubt and this one tends to be given as attributed to Louise Rayner. Our own question would be the relative lack of people by Louise's normal standards, though some of her early paintings have less human presence than the bustle familiar in later ones. It should be said that the original image we located was badly faded and a lot was done to give it the present colour balance - but it's still wrong. To see the real thing, check this link on


Our third painting is A Cathedral Interior. Previously thought to be Bourges Cathedral in France, Tom Kerr has now been able to confirm it as Bruges Cathedral in Belgium - i.e. the kind of error that could have stemmed from indistinct writing. However, we do know that it was Louise's work. The same view was also painted by Joseph Nash in 1838, by Edmund Niemann, and by Louise's sister Frances.

Another difficulty in establishing where Louise did (or did not) go when in Europe is that so few of her European paintings show up in UK auctions. Even if they did, they might not be titled; however, most known UK-auctioned paintings have been identified as showing British scenes. So the French (etc.) paintings must have stayed in France, either in original family hands or circulating through local sales. War damage may have accounted for some - and even some pillaging, though we doubt that Goering's art collection unit would have taken them since he seemed to work to an old masters shopping list.
Cathedral Interior


Flower Sellers in Bruges shows the cloth hall with its tall round-tower in the background. We aren't sure which street is depicted but would guess it's Vlamingstraat. If so, we're looking just a tiny fraction east of due south. The buildings on the right side, stop pretty much as depicted here, as they are at the northern edge of the market square (Markt). The Cloth Hall is one of the major landmarks of Bruges. It was built in 1240 and had its first of several fires in 1280. The octagonal lantern was added in 1482-6. The tower section of the building used to hold the city's records and serve as a lookout station. The lower part of the building was the former cloth hall, built to serve what was once a huge trade in Belgium and has two wings running away at right-angles to the frontage.

Unfortunately we know very little about the street or flower selling in the foreground of the picture, nor of when Louise was there to paint it, but if you have any information to offer we'd be happy to receive it! If you like it enough to have on your wall, prints are available from people such as EasyArt.
Flower sellers in Bruges

Venice Grand Canal   VENICE

This slightly over-magnified image shows a painting auctioned on Ebay in July 2004 entitled Venice Grand Canal and credited to Louis[e] Rayner. The photo of her writing on the back of the frame appeared to be an acceptable variant of an 1857 example and it suggested a sale previous to the Ebay one. Unusually, it was an oil, but the Rayner artists used both media, even if the main output by Louise and Margaret was watercolour.

Andy King took a look at the images, especially the close-up, and said it did look like Louise's work. So are there doubts? Not serious ones, no. Except that there is absolutely no known record of Louise ever going anywhere near Venice, and it could be that the missing 'e' off her first name may not have been an error by the Ebay seller... But "Louis Rayner" doesn't turn up anywhere else.

There is still a willingness to believe that Louise did turn this one out, so how did it come about? One possibility is that as Frances lived on the continent for several years (her paintings include one of Lucerne in Switzerland), Louise may have gone out to visit her, and they may have singly or jointly gone on to Italy. And possibly her notebook for the trip eventually got lost.
Frame signature
Venice boatman (detail)

Harry Drummond, January 2015.

DudleyMall pages about Louise:
Louise at Dudley - Front page introduction, Dudley, link to Richard Rayner's work at Dudley.
Louise Rayner - the main biography, listing some of her early paintings
Louise at Chester - where Louise made her home and did some of her best work.
Louise at Flint - her drawings for Henry Taylor's book.

Louise on expedition:

North to South progression, West before East
Louise in Scotland - Edinburgh
Louise in Southern Scotland - Roslin Chapel (we have no other Scottish paintings at present)
Louise in Northern England - York, Selby, Beverly, Durham
Louise in Wales and the west Midlands - Conway... Ludlow... Gloucester
Louise in the South and South West - Oxford... Chippenham... Salisbury
Louise in Eastern England - Lincoln... Derby... Cambridge
Louise in London and its region - Temple Bar, Drury Lane, Holborn, Greenwich, Eton and Windsor
Louise in the South East - Tunbridge Wells, Knole, Herstmonceux, Canterbury, Hastings... more
Louise Abroad - Rheims, Nuremberg, Bruges... and possibly Venice
In preparation: - The Rayners at Windsor

Please 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. It is thus inevitable that there will be errors, though we naturally correct these when we can.

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. And we'd like to thank the many people who have already contributed - you've helped to make these pages as good as they are. Thank you!

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