Crossing the Ford

William Mulready the elder, RA (Ennis 1786 - London 1863)
National Trust Inventory Number 221369

Category Art / Oil paintings
Date 1842 - 1863
Materials Oil on canvas
Measurements 590 x 495 mm
Place of origin
Collection Goddards, North Yorkshire
On show at Goddards, North Yorkshire, Yorkshire and North East, National Trust

Mulready, an Irish genre painter living in London, is best known for his romanticising depictions of rural scenes. He was accepted at the Royal Academy School at the age of fourteen, becoming an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARA) in 1815 and RA in 1816. He began painting in transparent glazes and semi-solid pure pigments on a white ground in the 1830s which produced a certain luminosity, influenced by the High Renaissance Venetian artists and foreshadowing the Pre-Raphaelites.

This scene shows a common Victorian theme of crossing water illustrating a rite of passage to adulthood.It is a copy after the original painting, The Ford (‘Crossing the Ford’) which was exhibited at RA in 1842 to great acclaim, and is in Tate Britain, presented to the Nation by the artist's patron, Robert Vernon in 1847 (N00395).

The picture was bequeathed to the Trust by Kathleen (Kay) Elizabeth Mary Cooper Abbs (1901 - 1974) of Mount Grace Priory, Northallerton and is now on display in what was once the home of the chocolate manufacturer, Noel Goddard Terry.

Summary description

Oil painting on canvas, Crossing the Ford by William Mulready the elder, RA (Ennis 1786 - London 1863). A young peasant girl being carried over a stream by two youths in a landscape setting. To the left, their travelling companions wait in the shadows on foot and horseback and prepare to cross behind them. The background landscape is hilly and rocky, opening up to a distant blue horizon. The picture is set into a giltwood frame, inscribed with 'CROSSING THE FORD' and 'WM MULREADY RA'. A copy after the original painting, The Ford (‘Crossing the Ford’) of 1842, in Tate Britain.


Bequeathed by Kathleen (Kay) Elizabeth Mary Cooper Abbs (1901-1974)

Marks and inscriptions

CROSSING THE FORD/WM MULREADY RA (painted in black on frame)

Makers and roles

William Mulready the elder, RA (Ennis 1786 - London 1863), artist


Heleniak 1980 Kathryn Moore Heleniak, William Mulready, New Haven and London 1980, reproduced p.128.
William Mulready 1786 –1863, exh cat (ed. Marcia Pointon), Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1986, reproduced p.163.

Related items

Place of origin
Materials Canvas (10112)
Giltwood (3925)
Category Art / Oil paintings (12629)
Collection Goddards, North Yorkshire (108)
Periods 19th century (173803)
Maker William Mulready the elder, RA (Ennis 1786 - London 1863) (11)
Subjects Scenes of everyday life (genre) (217)
Object Type Oil painting (14414)

Record Status


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