A crucial part of assembling the Rayner family pages has been the existence of the collected biographies by Ellen
Creathorne Clayton, which she built on information supplied to her by the artists themselves. The descriptions in
brown text on many of the pages here are direct quotes from her book. Please bear in mind that these descriptions
are mid-career for some of the family and miss later events such as Frances returning to art after the break-up
of her marriage.
Another valuable resource was cartes de visite (explained below), kindly provided by the descendants of the family, and to be found on the individual artists' pages of this site. The family has also provided illustrations, sketches and incidental details, which have also been placed on the pages where they are most relevant.
Finally, we've listed the principal resources used from publicly accessible sources.
Right: Cambridge circa 1880, by Louise Rayner. Louise was in Cambridge at least twice as another painting shows fashions appropriate to around 1900.
The sources available on the Rayners are as follows:|
* The paintings themselves (for prints, see below)
* Ellen Clayton's book, with its direct input from the artists
* Family reminiscences, memorabilia, notes, and recorded events
* Photographs from the family's cartes de visite
* Public records, directories, art histories, reviews, auction details and so forth
* Rayner-illustrated guide books, reminiscences, potted biographies, everything else...
ELLEN CREATHORNE CLAYTON (1834-1900) and English Female Artists
Ellen Clayton was a 19th century feminist - perhaps not in an aggressive, political way (we have no evidence on this*), but in the positive form of recording women's achievements in various fields lest they be lost. In the case of the Rayners, her concerns were justified.
(*Except for one action: when 38 women signed a petition to the Royal Academy in 1859 to open the (training) Schools of the institution to women, Ellen Clayton was herself among the signees. A major point made in the petition in the bid to gain proper tuition was ‘especially that they should be enabled to gain a thorough knowledge of drawing in all its branches, for it is in this quality that their works are invariably found deficient.’)
Her book English Female Artists (London: Tinsley Brothers, 1876, 2 vols, 1876) was based on questionnaires sent out to the artists or their families, and hence her mini-biographies reach right into the thoughts and attitudes of her subjects. She was thus able to write: Few families have rendered themselves so remarkable in the artistic world as that bearing the well-known name of Rayner. [vol.2 p235]
Yet Ellen Clayton's book has remained the principal source material for most of the reference works (dictionaries of artists, etc.) that followed. Many reference books ignore the family completely, or rehash the same few bits of data unless the writers were contemporary enough to have known the family or their artistic friends. For this reason, our pages have included virtually the whole of her original material on the Rayners, and accepted a small degree of repetition arising as a result. Her text appears in brown, as above, with occasional insertions [thus] to clarify.
A more modern commentator on the period is Deborah Cherry in her book Painting Women: Victorian Women Artists (London: Routledge, 1993). She points out that kinship networks were often extensive between women artists - mothers giving daughters early lessons, sisters working together, sisters in law sharing work-spaces. These kinships were particularly strong among watercolourists, still-life and landscape painters. She mentions the Rayners as one such family example, and adds: ‘Artist-families provided material and psychic spaces for middle-class girls to grow into professional artists. For some, this development was accompanied by the expectation that they would become self-supporting economically and socially.'
But the social politics of the era meant that women were treated differently from men, both in youth and as adults. Their teaching might direct them into lower status categories of art, and however successful, family duties such as coping with a sick member of the family would fall to them rather than to a male member. Boys were more and more trained in institutions, but women continued to get training by example and through studio assistance - an apprenticeship-based teaching, and potentially very variable. This, of course, was the spur for the petition that Ellen Clayton and 37 other women signed.
After the 5-page version of this site was put on the web, we were contacted by a descendant of the family, Andy King. He and his wife Jean had done their own research to assist in mounting exhibitions, and they generously forwarded copies of the material they had created to DudleyMall. We have been very grateful to receive this material, and it has enabled the site to greatly increase in size. They have also continued to assist in the expansion of these pages. However, the family is understandably keen to maintain its privacy, so any enquiries and comments should be directed to DudleyMall. We always forward enquiries which are likely to be of genuine interest to the family.
It should be borne in mind that the last member of the main generation (Louise) died in 1924 - more than 80 years ago - and therefore no living family members have adult memories of Louise and the others. Also, though family records do exist, and they are in the circumstances fuller than many other families' surviving records, they are still fragmented and incomplete. For example, Samuel's trial was analysed quite independently by Harry Drummond for DudleyMall, and by Andy King from family records, and when compared, the analyses were essentially identical, because a pivotal event in the family's fortunes had left no surviving records and therefore the descendants were no better placed with inside knowledge than an external analyst was without it.
In addition, a member of the Rayner family gathered in letters sent by Louise and the others with a view to creating an archive or history. Unfortunately he died before his work was complete and much of the material was apparently lost.
Nevertheless, bits of family gossip, favourite stories and odd snippets of information have survived better in the Rayner family than in others because of the family's pride in their recent forebears' achievements, and we are glad to acknowledge the considerable input this has given the pages on DudleyMall.
If you're interested in Rayner Family History you will want to know about David Rayner, one of the Colnbrook (Buckinghamshire) Rayner family, from which Samuel, Louise and the others are descended. He was helpful in providing information on their immediate antecedents, and assisted this site in other ways. He was always interested to receive contacts from other Rayners and especially from those members of the Buckinghamshire-descended branches. His web site is www.louiserayner.co.uk.
THE CARTES DE VISITE
Introduced circa 1854, cartes were created by taking multiple small pictures on a single large photographic plate, thereby reducing the individual cost. The inventor is unknown: several people had the same idea independently. Disderi in Paris was one of the early practitioners though he didn't have instant success with them. But when Napoleon III stopped off at Disderi's studio for a photograph of himself (whilst on the way to war with Austria!), Disderi became a focus of attention, and his small cartes especially. People collected cartes with famous faces on them, and swapped them much like later crazes for cigarette cards and tea cards - resulting in a royal carte getting into the Rayner collection in mistake for a very similar-looking Rayner daughter. But most cartes were used as actual visiting cards with the owners' faces on them, and the practice spread through Europe and Britain like wildfire. From the latter part of the 1850s and through the 1860s, everyone in society handed them out. 300-400 million a year were produced and demand made them cheap. The practice eventually slackened, though it did persist into the 1890s, and albums were created to hold the cartes for convenient browsing, which is why pictures survive from this period in many families who preserved their history.
The poses were very static, of course, to allow for the long exposure periods of the photographic plates - but artistic flattery was already at work in emphasising the power and importance of men, and the poise and grace of women - not least by encouraging shorter ladies to wear dresses with vertical stripes to make them appear taller, or flounces to reduce unbecoming height. More extensive studio and darkroom work would come in later years - especially when the enlarger put a space between negative and print, and made room for "dodging" to soften wrinkles, moles and other defects. But on such small pictures, there was limited opportunity or call for this anyway.
The Rayners had cartes created for them in 1859 and 1862. Given the early state of photography when they were done, it's possible that Rayner family sets were created each time, but only the better ones were kept in a later sort-out. Nancy died before the craze got going, so she is not included here. There are cartes for Ann in 1875 (the only one we know of), and a second one of Samuel in 1876 with his grandson.
RAYNER FAMILY EXHIBITION RECORD
Source: GRAVES, Algernon, Dictionary of Artists who have exhibited in the principal London Exhibitions from 1760-1893, 3rd ed, 1901. Facsimile, Kingsmead Reprints, 1969.
The town given is the place the first exhibit was sent from. The letters are the art galleries where paintings were exhibited. RA = Royal Academy; BI = British Institution (closed 1867); SS = Suffolk Street; OW = the Old Watercolour Society (later becoming the Royal Watercolour Society); NW = New Watercolour Society (later becoming the Royal Institute); Other = venues of lower standing for whatever reason, such as the Dudley.
Andy King says the exhibition list is incomplete for Louise, at least: "When we researched the paintings Louise exhibited (for our Derby exhibition) we found that there were many more exhibits than the ones usually quoted. For instance 35 at the RA; 14 at SS (RSBA); at least 1 at the British Institution before 1867; 5 at the Royal Hibernian Academy; 32 at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; 17 at the Manchester City Art Galleries; 22 at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours (New Watercolour Society); 30 at the Society of Women Artists; 21 at Birmingham; and at least 3 at the Dudley Gallery, London."
In 2012, Mark Edwin Arstall drew our attention to a source we'd previously missed. The Society of Female Artists was founded in 1855, became the Society of Lady Artists in 1869, and then the Society of Women Artists in 1899. It still exists today. All its exhibitions have been in London, and the works displayed were listed in this work:
BAILE DE LAPERRIERE, Charles, The Society of Women Artists exhibitors, 1855-1996: a dictionary of artists and their works in the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Women Artists, published by Hilmarton Manor Press, Calne, England, in 1997.
This provided a very useful supplement to the lists we had built up by then, and also helped to clear up a number of queries. We must acknowledge that it was especially useful with Margaret's list, which surprised even the family with a wealth of previously unknown titles - possibly because a lot of her paintings went to America when still fairly new. We noticed a couple of misprints in Louise Rayner's list (e.g. 'Walingate Bar' for Walmgate Bar) and an unwarranted 'sic' for 'Rosslyn Chapel' (Roslin has 3 spellings in use), but this work is a valuable resource on women artists for the period covered. It includes current addresses for each exhibiting year which may help family historians (though some will be agents' addresses). The Society's web site said (in 2012) that the 4-vol work was being prepared for reprint. Its listings miss the earliest years for the Rayner women, but the rest add up as follows:
*Figures at present are for Frances before marriage. Her later work would be as a Copinger, and we haven't seen that data yet. There is no line for Nancy as she died in 1855 - the year the Society came into being.
In addition, Louise exhibited at least 3 paintings at the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society between 1867 and 1873 (one in 1867 was of the Church of St Nicholas, Newcastle upon Tyne) and was awarded Bronze Medals for two of her paintings. The family still has these and they look like the image here.
Also by Graves is this work:
GRAVES, Algernon, The Royal Academy of Arts: a complete dictionary of contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, etc., 1905-6, in 8 volumes. London: Henry Graves & Co. and George Bell & Sons.
Volume 6 of the Dictionary also gives the addresses of the Rayner artists at the time each of their works was submitted for exhibition (at the Royal Academy of Arts only). But the Dictionary has errors in artists' names, apparently stemming from sloppy recording at the time of exhibition - not helped by the exhibition rule that no paintings should carry signatures while displayed in the Royal Academy. Samuel himself suffered from misidentification throughout his career as "S A Rayner" as a result of this sloppiness. The A was actually his wife's name, Ann - she'd submitted a painting at the same time as Samuel, so the two paintings got listed as "Two paintings: S & A Rayner", but the "&" disappeared...
PUBLIC REFERENCES USED INCLUDE:
1. Chester: the excellent Chester CC infosheet
2. Census 1881: The 1881 British Census and National Index as put on CD with extensive indexing by the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints. It's the only census so far done like this that is cheaply and widely available, which is why it's the only year quoted above.
3. IGI: The International Genealogical Index - on the Family Search web site familysearch.org.
4. Paviere: Paviere, Sidney H., A Dictionary of Victorian Landscape Painters. Leigh on Sea: F.Lewis Publishers, 1968.
5. Mallalieu: Mallalieu, H.L. The Dictionary of British Watercolour Artists up to 1920, vol.1. Woodbridge (Suffolk): Antique Collectors Club. 2nd ed. 1986.
6. Clayton, Ellen C. English Female Artists, 2 vols. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1876.
7. Cherry, Deborah Painting Women. London: Routledge, 1993.
8. Roget, John Lewis A History of the Old Water-Colour Society, London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1891.
9. 1901 Census - produced by the Public Record Office not used because it was having problems at the time, but an obvious resource for the future.
The first census was 1841, and the Births/Marriages/Deaths records at St Catherine's House in London only commence in 1837, making the earlier period much harder to pin down.
10. The 2004 (latest printed) edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has biographies of Louise Rayner and her father Samuel. As they were written by Andy King, much of the information appears on the pages of this site, though not in the same arrangement. [The printed ODNB is in very large libraries, or available on-line to subscribers, or free on line to most holders of UK library cards. Try your public library if you want to follow up on this.]
GUIDES, REMINISCENCES, etc.
Another source of possible information and small copies of her work is in books - either as biographical material or as part of local histories in towns where she did her paintings. Our limited original research was in an art library and found nothing devoted solely to the Rayners, but books on 19th century watercolours (especially books that were themselves late 19th / early 20th century) were more forthcoming.
Books recently noted on sale included the following. The text (slightly rearranged) is provided by the sellers. Not all may now be available, but we include contact information to assist you in checking. However, we take no responsibility for the items or sellers.
BOUGHTON, Peter Picturesque Chester: The City in Art, Phillimore & Co. for Chester County Council, 1997. A4 size, stitched, softcover, £14.95.128 pages packed with monochrome and coloured art reproductions relating to Chester, including 16 or so by Louise Rayner. The book is still in print (in 2003) and available from the bookshop in the Grosvenor Museum, Chester (see Prints, below).
CHANDLER, John Great-Grandmother’s Footsteps: a Stroll Through Victorian Salisbury, Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum (no date), 45 pages, spiral bound, £4.99
Louise Rayner was a skilful artist, who during the 1870s painted three street scenes of Salisbury which are now displayed in the Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum. They form the basis for this walk-round guide to Victorian Salisbury, which explores the rich and varied history of the city, comparing scenes portrayed by Rayner’s paintings with how those streets look now. Colour and black and white illustrations. Contact Crosskey Bookshop.
TAYLOR, H HISTORIC NOTICES: with Topographical and other Gleanings descriptive of the Borough and County- Town of Flint, London 1883, xiv + 256pp, many ills including work by Randolph Caldecott and Louise Rayner... £35.00. "One of the earliest known examples of a book with a purpose designed dust jacket" - item 314, details of condition here.
This item may have been sold by the time you read this, but a copy may still be findable in a public library local history collection in the area.
WALL, Bernhard Chester Characters (publication details not known)
[Chester] Civic Trust member Bernard Wall has published a book about the famous characters who were born here, lived here, or otherwise made their mark on this city. Chester Characters provides a short biography of 37 men and women as diverse as King Edgar, James Stanley, John Wesley, Louise Rayner, Thomas Vanbrugh and Tom Rolt. Vanbrugh and Rolt are also featured in the winter lecture series. The book is available from the Chester branch of Bookland booksellers at 12 Bridge Street (Tel: 01244 347323). Noted at www.chestercivictrust.org.uk/books.htm.
[We would be happy to list other items which illustrate work by the Rayners or describe their lives and work. Just email the details or post to the address at the bottom of this page.]
As we've had enquiries about other paintings, we offer you the following advice, but also a warning. Print runs may be licensed to a maximum number, or a particular print may sell so slowly that the provider puts his reprint money into a different image instead. If what you want is on offer, try to buy it as soon as you can. It follows that some of the prints listed below may now be sold out.
Several prints exist. Last time we heard, the place to find them was the Cambridge Information Bureau.
Grosvenor Museum, Chester - The Grosvenor Museum, 27 Grosvenor Street, Chester CH1 2DD (tel: 01244 402008, fax: 01244 347587) has more than 30 Rayner paintings of Chester, and the museum's bookshop has prints available for many of them. The following scenes are available as large prints at £4 each:
Chester Town Hall; Dutch Houses, Bridge Street; Bridge Street;
Bishop Lloyds House, Watergate Street; Watergate Street.
Other pictures are available as small prints at £2 each (2003 prices):
Almshouses, Duke Street; Old Edgar, Lower Bridge Street; Lower Bridge Street;
Bear and Billet; Bishop Lloyds House, Watergate Street.
Some are also available as postcards and greeting cards. You can order by post or email Sue Rogers at email@example.com if you have an enquiry. Also note Peter Boughton's Picturesque Chester book mentioned above - it's available from the shop.
A late 19th century print of Watergate Street is offered for £5.00 (circa 2005) by Antiquemaps.com, at Stoneydale, Pepper Street, Christleton, Chester, England, CH3 7AG (Tel. 01244 336004, Fax 01244 336138, email firstname.lastname@example.org
We know of two paintings of Chippenham Market Place. One is at Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre, 10 Market Place, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 3HF, (tel: 01249 705020, email: email@example.com
The second Chippenham print is offered by My Art Prints - see below.
The only Derby painting we know of at all is Derby Irongate, which may be available from the local art gallery (they have the original). Otherwise, see My Art Prints, below.
The only one we know is Lincoln Cathedral from the South, offered by My Art Prints - see below, but we suggest you also try the usual local sources listed earlier, as you may find others.
There are bound to be prints elsewhere, but the only ones we currently know of are Drury Court with St Mary le Strand in the distance, and Looking west along Holborn - with Staple Inn being the central interest. These are similar to the images on the Louise in London page, but not identical. To see and buy them, do the following:
Go to http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk/collage/app
Choose "Search the collections", then enter Louise Rayner
You have to "add item(s) to basket" and go to the checkout before you can find the price, but prints cost £5.95 (2007).
Shropshire Museums - Ludlow Museum & Information Centre, Castle Street, Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 1AS, UK. Tel. 01584 875053. Prints available framed or unframed are: [Ludlow] Buttercross and [Ludlow] Market Square. They can be supplied by post.
Another painting, Ludlow [market square] is available from My Art Prints, below.
Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum, The King's House 65 The Close, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 2EN. (Tel: +44 (0) 1722 332151 Fax: +44 (0) 1722 325611 firstname.lastname@example.org
General Print Suppliers
My Art Prints at 17, Palace Court, London, W2 4LP, United Kingdom, is one of several linked companies - the others are in France, Germany, Spain and the USA. It offers several Louise Rayner paintings including:
Ludlow [market square]; The Household Cavalry in Peascod Street, Windsor;
Market Day at Chippenham [slightly different from Chippenham Museum's version];
two similar views of Watergate Street, looking towards Eastgate, Chester;
Lincoln Cathedral from the South; a view of Irongate, Derby;
Castle Street, Salisbury, 1870.
Prices depend on size (you can specify online), but around £35-£40 minimum, unframed.
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, 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!