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Rayner quick jumps: Ann Frances Louise Margaret Nancy Richard Rose Samuel Paintings Sources Dudley


Above: Dudley Market Place, 1870, looking from the Market Place down Castle Street. The street off to the right was Hall Street (now regenerated as the entrance to the Churchill Precinct). A second painting, High Street, Dudley is in the collection of the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Birkenhead.

Louise Rayner wasn't born in Dudley, nor did she live here, but she was responsible for this local history item, one of the best known paintings of the town. There is an additional one of the market place not seen by us, and another of the High Street which I briefly saw some years ago. The paintings we know are both dated 1870, but they are probably based on studies made in 1865 when she and her younger brother Richard visited the area on one of their subject-seeking art expeditions.
Louise and Richard came from a remarkable family of six girls and three boys - six of whom would become artists, following in the tracks of their equally talented artist parents. In pages to come we'll look more at Louise and the other members of her family, but here we'll confine ourselves to Dudley.

This detail from the Dudley painting shows a covered wagon. Decades of American films have made these an icon of the pioneering west, but they weren't invented there. Covered wagons lasted in this country until at least the early 1900s, and they were used among other things for transporting groceries.

While five of the six Rayner daughters became artists, only one of the boys did - Richard Rayner. Richard never matched the success of Louise, but they clearly liked each other's company - often sharing it with their sister Margaret, though possibly not on their visit to Dudley. And while Louise was surveying Dudley's main street in 1865, Richard was taking an interest in the lime kilns on what is now the site of the Black Country Museum.

Not only that, but he was also making sketches of Dudley Castle and the area around it, and, courtesy of family descendants, we are able to present some of these on a separate page. Below is the most finished of them.

Richard Rayner's coloured sketch of the Dudley lime kilns. A panoramic pencil study of the whole area appears on Richard's Dudley page of this feature, along with his notes on colour and overall impression. The final image was later used by the Black Country Museum in its publicity.

Framed Prints
Framed prints of Louise's Dudley scene used to be on sale in the Dudley Museum in St James's Road, but now they only do slightly poor quality colour photographs which clip the edges of the image. The local information bureau which was housed in the Public Library opposite the Museum used to sell good unmounted prints, but the bureau is long gone, and we don't know if there is anywhere else you can get them - we'd be glad if you could tell us. However, the Archives department still exists and can now (2014) be found alongside the Black Country Museum in Tipton Road. If you want suggestions on finding prints for other towns, click Sources and check towards the bottom of that page.

For those who want more...
This page was originally rather casually researched just to provide a readable feature for local interest. However, the dearth of information elsewhere meant that even our limited efforts produced data not widely available. This accidentally made us a key site which encouraged people to forward images or information (bless you all!) to add to our own extended research. We have reached the point where Dudley Mall is now the world's major web site for the Rayner family of artists and the four of us (plus a Scottish associate) creating this section receive images and enquiries from all round the globe - not just from individuals but from auction houses, museums and art galleries as well (and let us thank you all here for that!).

Our list of paintings is incomplete because some paintings never went to exhibitions or auctions but have stayed in the hands of the families who originally bought them - but we add to it every time we find a title new to us. Others have turned up old records of exhibitions that we were previously quite unaware of. Do note that exact title matters in the art world as a prolific artist like Louise might make several paintings of the same subject and vary the title slightly in each case - and every one, including second copies, had to be painted from scratch. Happily, we have a contact within the family to give added information, but we still depend on people telling us what they know of their own paintings. Read on to learn more about the Rayners, and if you can add more images or information we'd be delighted to receive them via Thank you!

The links below take you to the main Rayner pages (there are now more than a dozen pages for Louise alone). They can be read in any order but the general family history information lies with the parents, Ann and Samuel, who were competent artists in their own right. Make sure you also look at the Sources page, especially the note on Ellen Clayton. She is a major source of contemporary information on the family, and her words run through many of the other pages.

                Harry Drummond, April 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 do correct these whenever we become aware 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 would also be very welcome. Thank you!

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