Rayner Biography: 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


The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells   ROYAL TUNBRIDGE WELLS
Anyone visiting Tunbridge Wells as a tourist will head for The Pantiles area for its beauty and uncommon style. So it's no surprise that Louise would do the same and see its possibilities for a painting. At right we have the result: The Pantiles - Tunbridge Wells, Kent, which Christies sold for £10,800 in June 2007.

As we can see, The Pantiles was and is both a shopping area and a pleasant socialising area. The painting isn't dated and doesn't appear in Ellen Clayton's list, but the fashions make it Victorian - perhaps 1860s - and well before Louise moved to the area. One wonders whether the lady in full black at left was herself a widow or was sympathising with Queen Victoria's loss of Prince Albert in 1861. Social mourning was a year in black, lightened in the following year with lavender or lavender panels - though some stayed in black for life.

Sketch of The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells   Much later in life, Louise and Margaret left Chester and lived together in Tunbridge Wells from 1910 to 1920.
Among the studies left in family hands is this view of The Pantiles, which could have been done by either one of them. The clothing and the lack of uniforms suggest the very last years of the old world, 1910-1914, before the Great War engulfed us and four years changed things for ever. Both survived the war, but it was the younger sister, Margaret, who was running out of years, and she died in 1920.

As a historical footnote, the colonnade of shops dates back to the 1680s and these in their early form were called the Walks and the (Royal) Parade. Unfortunately the area was slippery and the Duke of Gloucester injured himself in 1698. Princess Anne, his mother, donated money to rectify this, and in 1700 (after a grim Royal rebuke over the delay), the Upper Walks were paved with square ceramic pantiles and became the principal shopping area of the town. We don't know if the Pantiles name was official at this time, but it must have had currency as a nickname. In 1793 the pantiles were replaced with stone flagging, the area was now known simply as The Parade, and looked much as it does today in layout, although extensive replacement building continued until the mid-19th century. The whole area is now "listed" for preservation. Technically, Louise's painting shows The Parade (and may have originally been titled that), as the old Pantiles name was not revived until 1887, and she clearly painted it before then. But it's hardly surprising that the distinctive and much better known name got substituted.

Brown Gallery, Knole KNOLE
Knole (or Knowle) is a huge, mainly 15th century stately house which lies just south of Tunbridge Wells. A good deal of its Jacobean interior has survived even to the present day, and as it is now in the National Trust it can be visited. But in Louise's day the house was still in the private hands of Mortimer Sackville-West, who was elevated to the peerage as the 1st Lord Sackville in 1876.

The Rayner paintings we usually see of Knole are by Samuel or Margaret, but Louise painted several as well. So far we have only seen these two examples.
Brown Gallery, Knole The larger oil painting is The Brown Gallery, Knole, seen from the west end. It's a rarity in Louise's output in being totally without people in view (except in the portraits), but it keeps that balance between the near-photographic detail that she is so good at, and producing a scene that is still obviously art.

Brown Gallery Chairs, Knole is certainly a Rayner and is believed to be Louise's, but the artist isn't actually identified. The Brown Gallery was shown in the 1858 Royal Academy event and was conceivably quite new at the time. It's reasonable to suppose that the chairs were painted from studies made on the same occasion.

The other Knole paintings that we know of were all painted sometime before 1877. They are:
The Brown Gallery, an interior (oil) - Sold by Christies for £6,600 in Feb 2007.
The Cartoon Gallery, Knole                     In the Lofts, Knole
James the First's Bedroom, Knole           In Lady Betty Germane’s Bedchamber, Knole

This is more commonly Margaret's territory, or sometimes sister Frances's. It's the Knight's Tomb at Herstmonceux (the exact title isn't known), but this time painted by Louise. Apart from Haddon Hall, this is one of the few subjects we know of where all three artists produced paintings in the prime of their abilities, though Margaret lived closest and became the specialist. You will find other versions on the other sisters' pages. The paintings all have the same composition, but show the difference in their styles. Louise looks crisper in the detail - but that may simply reflect the room lighting. Whichever you prefer, comparison shows that all three were very good at their craft. Herstmonceux crypt

Right: Louise is known for townscapes and church interiors, but she did softer landscapes, too. Some of her earliest paintings were done in Harbledown, a village 1 mile west of Canterbury, and the family still has one of Louise's sketchbooks from this period. This is a study of a farm building there.

Some of those early paintings remain in the village today, along with paintings by Margaret, whose imagination was caught by (among other things) the interior of the church bell tower, with at least two of her paintings of it still extant.

Interior of Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Above, a truly gorgeous painting of Canterbury Cathedral. No date, but fashions and Louise's meticulous detailing suggest the 1860s - possibly from the same visit to the area as the adjacent painting.

Left: this Cathedral Interior dated 1868 was auctioned by Whyte's of Dublin in February 2003 for 3200 euros (roughly £2100). It shows Canterbury Cathedral with a possibly fanciful scene of monks at the entrance to Thomas Becket's shrine at some point after its creation in 1220 when it was then magnificent in its richness and glory. Sadly, it was plundered and destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII, and nothing remains of it.

Canterbury Cathedral
Above: a photo of Canterbury West Gate from St. Dunstans Street, looking towards the city. The photo comes from the Rayner family's collection and was either taken by Richard or bought on a visit to the city. It is a possibility that Louise or Richard intended to paint the view (they may have been together when the photo was taken/acquired). If either of them did, we've not met the result yet, but we hope that one day we will!

Town Gate Rye    RYE
Malcolm Johnson drew our attention to The Old Town Gate, Rye (left) after noting its listing in a Christies auction of 1989 with a mono image. It was expected to reach a sale price of about £7,700, though we don't know the actual outcome. We don't have an exact date for the painting, but the 1860s-1870s seem likely. Our replacement colour image looks fractionally off-colour but is otherwise a fair reproduction. One point: while the painting is "the old town gate" (the one still surviving), the gate's proper title is The Landgate.

Figures before the Landgate, Rye
Since then we've had a second image. Figures before the Landgate, Rye, East Sussex looks like the first one, but it only takes a moment to see the little variations between the two that Louise put into her paintings so that each client had a view with its own individuality. It also helps to distinguish one copy from another when something - the stance of a figure, different colouring, eye-catchers such as a dog with a stick - has managed to make one more appealing, or special in some other way.

Here, the shop at left has the same ratty nameboard over the window, and the cranky drainpipe beside it is little changed between paintings. As her Chester paintings demonstrate, Louise loved those character elements. The pile of staves resembling an unlit bonfire is probably for a later stage of the roadworks that lead right through the arch to the distant wagon (or perhaps recovered if the work is nearly done). The foreground cart is open-ended in the small image, flap raised in the other. There are fewer people in the large painting, and not as many in the road, while the man walking up the middle of the road has got further in the small image. Also, the smaller painting has a barber's pole at right, and the larger one has very well rendered wicker baskets in the right foreground. There are plenty more differences, including small colour differences. This is all deliberate variation by Louise, so she got more pleasure out of repeat work and clients didn't feel cheated by close copying (though our Edinburgh page includes a case where two friends wanted truly identical paintings - she probably found that a different challenge). It's also possible that she didn't think some of the original colours worked as well as she'd intended, so she tried different shades.

Land gate at Rye
The third painting (left) was also auctioned by Christies, in this case on 18th July 1989, listed as Figures by town gate with haycart and artist sketching. The location is the other face of the Landgate at Rye, Kent. The Landgate now looks a little more battered than in these paintings, probably due to German attacks in the two World Wars. The family still has the artist's folding canvas seat shown here, with Samuel's and Richard's names on it. The artist at work is very probably Louise's father Samuel Rayner, in which case this is likely to be one of her (relatively) early works. We don't know what price it went for.

HASTINGS (below)

If you've visited this page before you may recall seeing a tiny image of a painting tentatively thought to have shown Hastings Old Town. We were wrong and a larger image of the painting (of Jubbergate in York) can now be found on our Louise in Northern England following a positive identification by someone who used to work in the same street. But we hadn't entirely learned our lesson and we had another painting that might be of Hastings.
This location may be immediately obvious to locals, but we outsiders don't have sufficient familiarity with the place. With the success of the Jubbergate (York) call for help, we asked visitors if they could identify this image as well. After 4 months without response we finally identified it ourselves as All Saints Street, Hastings, with the Stag Inn (dating from 1547) in the left foreground. Note the church's horizontal buttress capping at the second stage down, and also the square belfry window, which is unusual.

We now know the view is towards the north-east. Looking at the short shadows we'd guess that we have a fairly high sun shining from the South-East or South-South-East in the warmer part of the year, with the time approaching mid-day. And we'd put the date as 1870s-80s, but people who know the buildings better than us are very welcome to correct us on that (our email and postal address are at the bottom of this page). Thank you!

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... Beverley... 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 inevitable that there will be errors, though we do correct these when we learn of them.

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

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