In the Nineteenth Century the Northumbrians Show the World What Can be Done with Iron and Coal
William Bell Scott (Edinburgh 1811 - Penkill Castle 1890)
Oil painting on canvas, In the Nineteenth Century the Northumbrians Show the World What Can be Done with Iron and Coal by William Bell Scott (Edinburgh 1811 - Penkill Castle 1890), signed and dated, at top of anvil: W B Scott June 1861, and again, on the hoist: W B S. A vivid representation of Tyneside industry, with Stephenson's High Level Bridge, telegraph wires, and the River Tyne in the background. Workmen employed by Hawks, Crawshay & Sons (builders of the High Level Bridge) wield sledgehammers, forging a locomotive wheel. The figure at centre, three-quarter facing, is Charles Edward Trevelyan, cousin and heir to Sir Walter Trevelyan (1797-1879) of Wallington. The foreground is strewn with working drawings of a locomotive, letters, a rose atop a newspaper dated 1861, recording the victory of Garibaldi at Caserta, a marine engine air pump, an anchor, and an Armstrong gun and shells. A girl, facing the viewer, sits on the barrel of the gun beside an inquisitive black dog, her father's lunch wrapped in a bundle on her lap. The name Harry Clasper (1812-70) appears as graffiti on the wall; Clasper was a famous professional oarsmen and boat-builder. Shipping, a keel loaded with coal, plies the Tyne beneath an old stone bridge; on the quayside fisherman, merchants and a photographer people the scene. One of a series of eight oil paintings illustrating the history of the English borders, painted between 1856 and 1861 for Sir Walter Trevelyan (1797-1879). The paintings were shown at the Literary Society, Newcastle, in the following order: Saint Cuthbert and King Egfrid; Building the Roman Wall; The Death of Bede; The Descent of the Danes; The Spur in the Dish; Gilpin making Peace; Grace Darling; Iron and Coal. The complete set was exhibited at the French Gallery, Pall Mall, in 1861. A preliminary watercolour version, of around 1861 is in the V&A (362-1891).
William Bell Scott was commissioned in 1855 by Sir Walter Trevelyan to decorate the courtyard at Wallington; began in 1857 and the series was exhibited at regular intervals at the Literary Society in Newcastle and completed in 1861 - the scheme of decoration was finished in 1863/64 when the spandrels high up near the vault were decorated with a progression of eighteen scenes from the Ballad of Chevy Chase, and the lower pilasters painted with local flora by other artists including Ruskin, Arthur Hughes, Lady Trevelyan, as well as the portrait medallions, in the lower spandrels and portrait heads.
Wallington, The Trevelyan Collection (National Trust)
Marks and inscriptions
W B Scott June 1861 (signed and dated)
Makers and roles
William Bell Scott (Edinburgh 1811 - Penkill Castle 1890), artist
Gere and Ironside, Pre-Raphaelite Painters, 1948 Scott 1861 &1867 W. Bell Scott, Descriptive Catalogue of the History of the English Border, 1861 & The Murals of Chevy Chase (Paper read to the Institute of British Architects, 1867 Inglis 1987 Alison Inglis, ‘Sir Edward Poynter and The Earl of Wharncliffe’s Billiard Room’, Apollo, October 1987, p.250 O'Neill 2010 M. O’Neill, Walter Crane, The Arts and Crafts, Painting and Politics, 1875 – 1890 (Iron and Coal), New Haven & London, 2010, , pp.105-6, fig.45