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

ROSE RAYNER (1828-1921)

Ann Rayner's second daughter, Rhoda was born in 1828 in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, and learned modelling in clay from the age of fourteen. She began painting when she was twenty-one but continued to work with clay, and jugs and vases she had made herself sometimes featured in her pictures. Her early bias towards clay also explains why she was comparatively late (by family standards) in exhibiting her paintings. She exhibited at the Royal Academy and elsewhere between 1854 and 1866, and this may have been when Rhoda restyled herself as Rose.

Rose from her carte de visite of 1859.

Rose had at least five of her paintings exhibited, but there was also an L.R. Rayner exhibiting in 1855 with four paintings in that year at the Royal Academy - and there is no way of telling whether this was also Rose or a completely separate artist.

Miss Catty
It was one of Graves's complaints when assembling his Dictionary that the artistic responsibility for paintings exhibited was very poorly recorded by the galleries, and he had marked difficulties in separating different families with the same names. Both artists were based in London at this time, which matches Samuel's residency in the same period. But though we might assume that the coincidence was too great and all were the work of Rose, the Rayner name was sufficiently common that we cannot safely do that.

Rose is the most elusive of the Rayner sisters, and even Ellen Clayton notes only that: Rose, who draws figures, has withdrawn from the exhibitions, her time being fully occupied in teaching, and in colouring fine photographs. From the age of fourteen to twenty, she studied modelling only.

As can be seen here, Rose's style was very different from that of her sisters. The subject and title is Miss Catty, i.e. one of the daughters in the Catty family. Rose's sister Grace Rayner - the one non-artist of the Rayner sisters - married Frederick Henry Bovil Catty in 1869. Painted in 1854.

Below, Rose's Divided Attention, painted in 1856. The subjects are thought to be Nancy with one of her series of male friends. The painting is signed at bottom right as "R.Rayner"

Divided attention   
In 1858, the family moved to Brighton, living in various rented apartments there until 1864. One of these, c.1859, was at 24 Montpelier St. This image is from her sketch pad. Water jugs and vases were a common feature in her paintings because of her own interest in modelling in clay.
24 Montpelier Street

She was originally more interested in designing, making and decorating pottery figures and vases, etc. Later (about 1850) she took up watercolours in common with the rest of the family but developed a style of her own which drew on her parents' expertise and her

elder sister Nancy's talent at portraiture, but took notice of the emerging pre-Raphaelite influences in the art world of the time. She didn't keep up her output of paintings after the 1850s but still produced the occasional exhibition piece and work to commission. As Ellen Clayton notes, Rose took up teaching as a career. Although the Education Act became law in 1870 and ensured for the first time that all levels of society gained some learning, it is more likely that Rose was doing private tuition for families of substance.

Evidence of this lies in the fact that she travelled very widely on the Continent, including Russia in 1880, which would have demanded a substantial income unless travelling as part of a family's retinue. What is not clear is what she taught, but since she would have had limited formal schooling herself, the obvious area would be clay, sculpture and painting - and in some cases her pupils might have been adults.

However, there is a second strand in her life at this point. Her sister Frances's marriage to Charles Copinger was breaking up around the late 1870s. Frances came back to the family home in New Windsor, and Frances's daughter Annette (usually called Netta) came to live with Rose at about the same time. Possible reasons for this could have been a shortage of space in the New Windsor house, Richard's financial difficulties at that point in maintaining his own young family, and Louise's life might have been too busy. So a sisterly offer or a genuine attachment between Rose and Netta, and the ability to take her in, might have been the deciding factors. Rose may also have inherited from her father Samuel's estate, allowing her some independence.

Russian balloon seller    Arising from the Russian trip are the two other commercial paintings we are currently aware of. First, Bill Furber found the site and contacted us early in 2005 to say that he had owned a work of art by her for some time, entitled "Russian Cake Seller". Unfortunately, communication failed at that point and we never saw an image. Then Murray Clare sent us this effervescent image in November 2008.

His painting was labelled on the back as Russian Balloon Seller - streets of Petrograd 1881 Miss Rose Rayner. It's quite possible that this painting employs some use of crayon as Rose was keen on that medium. She had exhibited a Portrait of Miss Montgomery, in Crayons. No: 675 in the 1856 exhibition of The Royal Society of British Artists and she also did a large crayon portrait of her niece, Netta.

We would guess that the Russian Balloon Seller was painted early in that year, or completed later from a study done then, for the census for 1881 has Rose (age given as 48) living at 103 Dalberg Road, Lambeth, Surrey, giving her occupation as artist figure painter, along with Annette Copinger, age 13, listed as a scholar. Rose's passport for the Russian trip still exists and from that and from the evidence of a studio portrait of Netta in Russia dated 1880, we know that Rose took her young niece with her.

For more of Netta's story, see the footnote on this page.

Right: one picture that seems to have got away. The text is from a write-up of an exhibition, possibly in The Artist, but date, place and title are unknown even to the family.
  Caption from an exhibition

Rose is thought to have had one further exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1885 (possibly but not definitely the one in the write-up above), and if so, it would confirm she was still practising as an artist from time to time. In 1891 she was living at 14 Lithos Road, Hampstead (just off Finchley Road), now apparently 60, working as an "Artist Figure Painter Sculptor", and still in company with Netta, who was now 23 and a piano music teacher.

In 1908, Rose's younger brother Richard died, and Rose (possibly with Netta), moved to live next door to Richard's family in Orpington Kent. During World War I, Netta worked in a hospital and met Scottish-born - but now Canadian - (Robert) Alpine MacGregor. He had come across with the Canadian Expeditionary force and was possibly recovering from an injury. On 9th November 1918, they married and in 1920 Netta emigrated with him to Canada - much to her Aunt Rose's regret (see footnote). Rose died just a few months afterwards on 12 January 1921 in Orpington. She was the longest-lived of all her sisters, in a generally long-living female line, and in true years had reached 92.

On the point of colouring photographs (as submitted to Ellen Clayton), it is worth remembering that the earlier part of Rose's life coincided with the fledgling years of photography. Daguerre's pioneering process had only recently lost ground to Fox Talbot's more practical one of 1838-40, and for a number of years photographs were seen merely as an artist's aid to producing a 'real' picture on canvas. Gradually photography developed its own character and the right to be seen as artistic on its own merits (and the explosion of interest in cartes de visite after 1855 would have assisted it). But it still suffered from slowness of exposure (especially the fine-grain film used for portraiture), and hence motion-blur if the subject moved.

Colour photography arrived much earlier than most people realise but it made the film slower still, so it was largely ignored. Instead, the art of photo-colouring developed. Rose would not have been out of work in her lifetime; practical amateur colour film did not appear until the 1930s, largely disappeared during World War II, and stayed a rarity for some years after. Many of our older generations in Britain will recall the photographer at weddings and other 'official' occasions making a note of dress, shirt and tie colours in the 1950s so that monochrome pictures could have colour brushed into them even at that late date.

Footnote on Annette (Netta) Copinger
When Murray Clare of Canada drew our attention to his painting of The Balloon Seller, he accidentally opened a new chapter in Rayner family history. It was known that Rose's painting had gone to Canada, but that was all. It was presumed sold.

As noted above, Netta emigrated to Canada in 1920 with her new husband Alpine MacGregor, probably to Whaletown, British Columbia. In late 1925 Alpine MacGregor joined the Red Lake Gold Rush, and Netta may well have followed him. A couple of years later they were at Georgetown Ontario, where other family members lived. In addition to prospecting, her husband wrote poetry about the native tribes he had come into contact with, while his poem, 'Love of the Northland' chronicles his own life as a prospector (Ray Mears style) before and after his marriage. At some point he moved into journalism, and was the Editor of the 'Patricia Herald and Thunder Bay Gazette'.

In 2007, Murray approached Dudley Mall by writing "I have what appears to be an original water-color (maybe with pastels as well) portrait. It was, until today, framed and under glass and I often wondered if it was just a print of an old painting. I am quite certain now it is original. Altho' the artist's signature is barely legible in the bottom left hand corner, when I unframed the painting, I saw written in pencil on the picture's back side, possibly in the artist's own handwriting, the inscription:

Russian balloon seller - streets of Petrograd 1881
Miss Rose Rayner                $15 (in pencil right hand side)

Netta in 1920
The sketch above is a self-portrait of Netta dated 1920, two years after her marriage and looking well for her 53 years. It is signed in her married name
A(nnette) F(rances) MacGregor and shows she had some artistic talent herself.

I can recall my grandmother having this framed painting on her wall in her private care home (which she owned and operated during the late 1940s and up to the mid 1950s in Victoria British Columbia Canada). Her own inscription on the outside back of the frame states that this picture was given to her by an 87 year old lady patient of hers who had been blind for some years.

I would appreciate anything you can tell me about her... Was she very prolific as an artist... Did she ever marry? Her painting belonged first to my grandmother and then to me (I have had it for some 40 years and it has a lot of sentimental value to me)."

From the Rayner side came this:
"I've found some information about Netta which may or may not be relevant.

She was nearly blind but in 1955 wrote a letter to [the UK Rayner family] from her Care Home at Langholm RR3, Langley, British Columbia (which I believe is in Victoria district?), in which she says she had been in Canada since 1920 and at the home for 8 years, and her husband Bob had been there for 2 years. The dates do not quite tie up but the Rayners were notorious for that! - could the old lady be Netta??"

From Canada:
"This story gets more and more interesting. As I said in a previous e-mail.... My grandmother nursed a very elderly lady patient (likely in the mid 1950's) in Victoria British Columbia (I could be wrong on the location, but my grandmother was head matron of another senior nursing home in Penticton BC in the very early 1960s). What I haven't shared with you is the following, written in my grandmother's handwriting on the very back:
'Given to me from a patient at the age of 87 who went blind age 76. Her husband Bob McGregor wrote articles for the Vancouver Sun up to 1950'.

On a geographical note, Langley BC is in the lower part of BC on the outskirts of Vancouver (about 50 miles east of Vancouver). Victoria is on Vancouver Island (very southern portion).

Well... you've stirred the memory cells somewhat. When you mentioned the town of Langley and the residence of Langholm, I recalled as a young boy (I am 61 now), my grandmother taking me for long trips from Vancouver to her work and it seems to me now that it was east, towards what I now know as Langley. To confirm this I just dug out from my family stuff, which is still in plastic bags, an old leather wallet with newspaper clippings my grandmother kept when she left her job in 1949 as matron of (you guessed it) Langholm. Not only did she keep numerous tributes to her as keepsakes but one was signed 'Mrs. A. McGregor'."

The picture still posed a problem, however: the sheer coincidence of Netta re-encountering the painting in Canada after she emigrated there bothered several people assembling this story. The conclusion was that the family's earlier idea of the painting being sold to a Canadian was wrong. More likely was that Rose gave the painting to Netta immediately after finishing it in 1881, or alternatively as a leaving present when she left for Canada - knowing that Netta liked it - as a memento of her special Aunt and her first adventure abroad (the titling on the back of the painting looks very much like Rose's own writing). The painting may not have been framed during transportation, but would have needed to be framed (or re-framed) later, and presumably the framer noted the cost of $15 on the back. Bob and Netta were thought to be quite well off, so the $15 is unlikely to represent a suggested price for a sale to stretch their cash resources - especially with such a strong link to Rose. However, when her own life was coming to a close (Netta died in 1956), she clearly thought a great deal of Murray's grandmother and wanted to give her something special - and keep the painting safe a while longer.

No prices known to us.

No location known to us.
                  Harry Drummond, November 2009.

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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