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


carte de visite
Above, Richard as depicted in his carte de visite of 1862. On the right, Richard's study of Orpington's tranquility.

Below, part of Nancy's 1852 painting of him and a close-up of his face from the carte.

Richard in 1852 As a male, Richard was ineligible for mention in Ellen Clayton's book, but we have greatly benefited from Andrew King, a descendant of the family, who has provided most of the information below. There are, however, still some gaps and guesses.

Richard Manser Rayner was born on 28 June 1843 in Bayswater, London (Manser being his mother's maiden name). He had advice in painting from his parents and sisters (and as the youngest, he had a lot of family help to call on). He started his art training under the direction of his father Samuel immediately after he left school (which was possibly at Dulwich, but this is not confirmed).
face close-up from carte

This was the period (1858-9) when the family moved to Brighton and his first sketches of that time are of people on the beach [see below, right], collier ships beached for unloading, and of fishermen's old boats halved and upturned to be used as shacks.

Brighton Beach In contrast to Louise's penchant for painting bustling towns, Richard preferred the tranquility of village life and its greener setting for his subjects, though he did share her love of quaint old buildings. And whereas Louise had started in oil then mainly remained faithful to watercolours, Richard would experiment and use the latest techniques in painting - in oils, watercolour, gouache, and all three at once on different backgrounds, combining this with old and new styles. Some of his experiments looked back to Turner, Constable, and the like, while others applied the latest impressionistic Continental and dramatic Scandinavian ideas, and the outcome was to make him a versatile painter in all media, and in a number of styles.
Netley Mill

In the next 3 years he trained intensively - repeatedly visiting the various London art galleries (the National Gallery and the British Museum among them) to copy and learn from the 'old masters' on the walls), while a series of sketches around Brighton in the same period show how quickly he was developing his ability and technique.

By 1864 he had also become a very adept draughtsman, and from that year began illustrating for magazines and other publications; and around 1866 he began providing art teaching lessons at a school in Brighton.

Above, Netley Mill near Shere, Surrey, probably from Richard's first visit.

Samuel Rayner was immensely proud of his only artistic son and wanted him to do well, as we see from this letter he sent to Henry(?) Moseley Esq. (Publisher) at Derby, in 1865:

38 Pembroke Square, Kensington
28 October.

My Dear Sir.

From some of the very clever drawings my son has made during the last summer I have selected eight, and have advised him place them at low prices and submit them for your inspection, and last night I believe he forwarded them carriage paid to Derby.

I am desirous that his talent may be known to you – that you may have an opportunity of introducing his works to the notice of others who might feel an interest in putting out a helping hand to a young artist of great promise.

You may perhaps be able to sell one or two if you are not disposed to speculate in all of them: but should the latter be the case I think he could take an acceptance at three months for £17.

At any event, you will forgive me for introducing him to your notice, and believe me
My dear Sir
Yours faithfully

The letter above was extracted from an old letter book (an old filing system was to bind letters being kept for business purposes), and this one carried the following annotations: Replied to Nov 2nd 1865. See letter Book. HM. with a note on the rear of the sheet saying: Mr Rich’d Rayner. Nov 1865. Drawings paid for by Bew as (?) agreed.

Most of Richard's work was commissioned directly by his patrons, and a number of fine art dealers around the country. He mainly exhibited between 1861 and 1869, at the Suffolk Street, the Dudley (London) and other galleries, including Derby, though he did continue more occasionally until at least 1883.

Netley Mill interior, 1865
  Left, an oil sketch done on the spot, showing an almost finished interior view of the 'stone floor' and stairs with the miller recutting one of the stones. This and the exterior view of Netley Mill above were sketches painted around 1865 and remain in family hands.

Below right, a sketch of Richard made in February 1870 by Thomas Copinger, showing him clean-shaven.

Sketch of Richard, 1870 Richard was on friendly terms with the Copinger family, whom his sister Frances married into in 1866 when she wed Charles Copinger. As a result of this (or possibly through a prior interest) Richard was a competent amateur actor, appearing in London productions, usually for a charity or similar cause. One such occasion is recorded in the Cabinet Theatre playbill below for April 21st, 1868, where the first entertainment had a cast of 10 - of whom three were Copingers, and a 4th was Richard. Some Copingers appeared in other plays that night, and Walter was the musical director for the whole evening. The charity was the Wood Green Church Building fund - and look at those prices! 5 shillings (25p or 45 cents today) for the stalls, 4 shillings in the balcony, 2 shillings in the amphitheatre. It doesn't sound much, but 5 shillings then would be more than 13 pounds today.
Playbill cover
Playbill cast
The theatre had opened as The Royal Panharmonium in 1830, became a regular theatre a year or two later, when the title was altered to The Royal Clarence. It then went by a number of names from 1852 through 1867, including "The Regent", "The Argyll", "The King's Cross", and "The Cabinet Theatre", which it still was in 1868 for this production. [from Victorian Web]

Richard also took an interest in photography, and bought a camera producing glass plate negatives. This was not unusual for artists in the earlier days of photography: some found it a (comparatively) quick way to get the essential details of a scene before committing it to canvas. It was some years before they realised that photography was starting to be taken seriously as an alternative to artistic work and thus eroding their income, though the carte de visite craze from the mid-1850s onwards might have offered a hint. Richard also collected photographs, so there is no certainty that those he had were his own, although the next one here seems to be a stretch of coincidence if it isn't.

Artist at Netley Farm

Artist close-up   The photograph was taken about 1870, here cut down to focus on the artist and his subject, Netley Farm in Shere. Andy King says that although it might be Richard, there is no proof that it is. It could, for example be an artist friend. But another option is that Richard might have set up the view (the full picture is a traditional artistic composition) and then walked into it while someone else exposed the film.

The sketch and the photo both show a youngish figure, but the farm artist may have a beard. There was time between February and trees in full leaf for a beard to have grown, but still no certain match. The artist has a black(?) armband above his left elbow, which could signify the death of a family member, a friend, or even of the royal family, given the strong loyalty to the crown in that period.
Andy adds that judging from the photo, the paintings and other pencil sketches, both buildings appear to have medieval origins - the farm with what seems to be a louvred smoke hood from an old hearth in the hall perhaps, and the mill with what may be a gothic arched opening at rear basement level and some masonry in the walls - perhaps rebuilt in the 1700s.

The painting at right is also c.1870, and shows tree felling by Netley Mill. This finished painting (which is still in the family) uses bodycolour rather than pure watercolour. Pencil sketches made at the same time show the local wheelwright collecting the timber.
Netley Mill tree cutting

In 1872 Richard married Mary Ann Harding (and would write back to her nearly every day while he was away on painting trips). Having obviously enjoyed his stay in the Gomshall/Shere area in the 1860s, he moved back to the area in the mid/late 1870s - and painted more pictures of Netley Mill. Some trees survived the felling as we see in this photo of Netley Mill circa 1875. The family has another painting showing a similar scene to the sketch & photo but with two of Richard's children playing in the foreground.

Andy King is unsure of the details but believes that Netley Mill was known by that name because it was built around 1200(?) on land owned by Netley Abbey in Hampshire, many miles away.

Netley Mill c.1875
The profits from the mill went to swell the coffers of the Abbey and not to the locals. The old mill was repaired and altered many times over the years, and one side was made to look like a picturesque ruin by the 18th century owners of Netley House, which was built on the hill overlooking the mill and, he believes, replaced Netley Farm as the manor house. The mill still exists today, but has been converted into a house.

Netley Mill Surrey

This last painting of the mill came to us courtesy of Dawn Marie Langehennig who had just acquired it at a local art sale and wanted to know more about it. The picture has some reflection lower down that dulls the true colours, but the two detail close-ups show what a nice picture it really is. Andy says that this large (for the Rayners) oil of Netley Mill was probably painted in the mid to late 1860's during Richard's earlier visits to the area around the village of Shere.

Detail:Netley artist detail:cow drinking

Above, two details from the painting. At left we see an artist at work with a companion, across the water two people are coming through the trees, and between them is the water itself. Richard was apparently fond of painting trees, but here the nature of the water catches the eye with its light, shadows and serenity by the mill. At right, a cow drinking; a common enough view, but so restful.

(The main picture image came to us with a slant which we levelled, but there is always minor degradation in doing this. We kept the tilt in the left close-up to retain the full river and background quality.)

There used to be three mills in Shere. Gomshall still exists (now as a restaurant) but one nearby has seemingly disappeared with little record. Richard's sketch at right is thought to be of the missing mill, and if so, it would be interesting to learn whether a painting was eventually created from it. If you know of such a painting, please tell us its title - and we would love an emailed photo!

As noted above, Richard married Mary Harding, a local girl, and it is tempting to suggest that we see the two of them in the Netley Mill painting in their courting days, but we have no confirmation of that. Mary was the daughter of an Architect and Master Plumber, who lived in an old house called 'Pantrys' and this still stands next to the church in the village today.

waterwheel at Shere

Below, Pantrys appears framed by the porch door in a painting Richard made from inside the church in 1880, a couple of years before his young family moved to Orpington, in what was then rural Kent (now Greater London). The painting also shows the font where his children were christened.

Shere church looking out
This rather gloriously-framed painting was never sold and has no date or official title, but it shows "Pantrys from Shere church porch". Pantrys is the house visible in the distance beyond the graveyard. In the foreground is a common element in Richard's doorway scenes: a bird on the step, here a robin. At right is a detail close-up of the door with Richard's depiction of its wonderful studs and handles. Below it is a variation of the painting kindly sent by Bea Palant. It's enhanced from a dark photo so don't take the colours as gospel, but the light is different, the tiles have a different hue, the twig broom has moved and there's an overlooked cushion at right. This kind of variation is also discussed on the lower part of Frances's page, with the reasons for it.
Netley church door detail
Netley church doorway

After the storm
Above: 'After the storm' - thought to be St Mary Cray church in Kent, and probably painted 1860-75.
(It is a fair match for the church but the area now seems to be wholly urbanised, so it's hard to be certain.)

In common with other members of the family - notably Samuel and Margaret - Richard enjoyed painting castles. We intially thought that this view at right, Ludlow Castle Keep, was painted in 1865 when he was in the area on a joint subject-seeking expedition with Louise. If you look at Louise's painting of the scene (see Louise in Wales and the west Midlands), it is so similar that they might well have been sitting side by side to paint their pictures. However, more recent evidence suggests not. The oil of the Castle was probably painted in 1876, as Richard took it with him on his 1877 trip to Scotland to produce a watercolour copy of it as a pairing partner for another watercolour already sold to a client.

Ludlow Castle Keep, 1865(?)
Some of his sketches for Dudley Castle can be found on his separate page for Dudley, while below we see two other castles that captured his paintbrush. Both found their way to the same house in Australia. In September 2007 Malcolm Johnson (an expatriot Englishman) contacted us to tell us what happened next. He'd been employed to do some work on the house for the owner, who'd noticed his interest in the paintings. When it came to settling-up time, the paintings were offered in payment and Malcolm gladly accepted them - and they adorn his walls today.

Raglan Castle Hurstmonceaux Castle
Raglan Castle On the left (above) is Raglan Castle, Monmouthshire, and on the right, Hurstmonceaux Castle (the adjacent village is alternatively spelt as Herstmonceux). Both were painted in 1871 and signed as "R.M.Rayner", both measure 24 by 16 inches, and the composition is so mirror-like that they could be framed as a pair. According to one of Richard's notebooks, he took composition advice from his father Samuel in the 1860s, and the tree at the end of both causeways is a very likely product of this. The details are nicely executed at the top of Raglan's towers, with the waterspout, etc., but we'd want a war historian to tell us whether they'd want to fight from that top wall.

Holyrood, Edinburgh During the 1860s and 1870s, Richard would join his sisters Louise and Margaret on information gathering and painting expeditions throughout Britain and would sometimes be away from home for 2-3 months. The visit to Dudley in 1865 is one example (possibly without Margaret on that occasion), while in 1877 we know that all three were in Edinburgh.

On these trips he was largely working for himself, but he also used to be employed by Louise to carry out work in areas where it was not 'seemly' for her to sit and sketch. An instance of this arose on the 1877 Edinburgh visit, where even he was forced to move on from sketching the Grassmarket area by the number of drunks around him.

Opposite: Richard's painting of Holyrood Abbey, following a joint Louise/Margaret/ Richard trip to Edinburgh. [The photograph was angled to avoid reflections and a slight lean could not be corrected out without losing too much quality.]

Right: Richard mentions working on a large painting of Powiscourt Waterfall in his 1877 diary of the Edinburgh trip, and this painting is believed to be the result of his efforts.
Louise's picture of Guildford
Above: sister Louise Rayner painted this picture of Chapel Street, Guildford, Surrey (circa 1880) as a thank-you to Richard and his family while staying with them on a visit to their home at Shere (a village 5 miles south-east of Guildford).
Probably Powiscourt waterfall, Ireland, 1877

Richard and Mary had five children, Louie, Sam, Herbert, then Arthur Trower in 1878 and Ada Mary in 1881 (the last two becoming artists themselves), and the children sometimes appeared in his paintings. But for many artists in that period, the demand for paintings was drying up, and there are signs that Richard had some difficulties supporting his family for a time - increasing his art lessons being one of his strategies to ease his situation. Louise had fewer problems, and some of Richard's work on her behalf was probably commissioned by her, not just free support from a sibling. Note that while Richard produced outlines and studies for his sister; the final paintings were entirely Louise's.

The image below (dated 1881) is displayed courtesy of its former owner in the USA. The title is unknown, but the two children might be Richard's, as Richard did take his children on walks and include them in his pictures. If so, the girl is likely to be Louie, and the boy either Sam or Herbert.

Lime kiln near Abinger Hammer
The tunnel mouth is not for rail, road or river but for an old kiln of some kind. It looks as though it was partly stone and faced in a coarse red brick, probably in the 1700s, and subsequent crack damage to it can be seen. The location is thought to be halfway between Guildford and Dorking in Surrey, north of Abinger Hammer. Surrey County Council has produced a countryside walking guide (with map) which refers to a Georgian-period lime kiln where chalk was quarried from a nearby pit and burned to produce lime for marling the fields and for mortar for bricklaying.

He seems to have got past his difficulties, and by the 1901 census he was listed as living in Orpington, Kent, aged 57, and it's possible he had designed his own house there, which points to architectural training of some kind. The date when he actually moved isn't known even to the family, and his paintings provide no pointer as he used to go there to paint before he actually lived there. Below right, we have another example.

The image was forwarded by Frantz Baumgartner in Vienna, who was hoping to get some information on the "castle" depicted. The building is actually Orpington Priory, which still exists today, but the gardens have been swept away in favour of tarmac. Franzt says the 1891 painting was bought by his grandfather in 1906, and his mother passed it on to Frantz more recently. It was half-forgotten until he began restoring the family house and needed a suitable painting to surmount a fireplace. This was perfect.

The painting was unknown to the modern Rayners, and Andy King, a descendant of Richard's, comments that this finally explains why Richard's effects included sketches of a gardener!

Richard's signature in 1891
Orpington Priory
This detail from Frantz Baumgartner's picture also shows a different form of Richard's signature - 'Richd' with a superscript 'd'. This common 19th century form of abbreviation would usually have a full stop (period) under the superscript letter(s) as here, but his spoken name was still 'Richard'.

Louise's home in ChesterLouise Rayner's later home in Chester - Ash Grove sketched by Richard (on a visit to her in 1892 and dated 17th September) as part of a letter back to his son Bert, captioned "from the road, showing Lou's house and the Welsh Mountain Moel Famman".

He was a religious man, following the other Rayners in the Catholic Apostolic Church.

He died on 17 October 1908 at Orpington.

For more of his work, see our separate page covering his visit to Dudley (West Midlands, UK) in 1865, where he and Louise made several sketches and paintings of the town, castle and lime kilns.

No prices known to us.

An example of his work is at the Museum & Art Gallery, Derby.

                Harry Drummond, September 2012

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!

Copyright © 2012 DudleyMall.

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