Gavin Claxton


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‘Thirlmere and Helvellyn from Raven Crag’ by George Cole RBA (1810-1883).

The painting – which depicts Thirlmere lake in Cumbria prior its damming, with the mountain of Helvellyn in the distance - is signed by the artist and dated 1878, in which year it was exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists.

All of our paintings are offered in the finest condition they can be for their age having been professionally cleaned, conserved, and re-varnished. Clients should also note that tracked and signed for international shipping is complimentary.

George Cole was one of Victorian Britain’s most successful landscape painters, although most of his early work comprised animal portraits. Cole’s first important patron was the British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel who commissioned the young artist to paint his dog, Cato. He first exhibited in London in 1838, at the Suffolk Street Gallery of the Society of British Artists, and shortly afterwards began studying with the eminent Scottish landscape painter, John Wilson (1774-1855).

This association culminated in Cole making his debut at the Royal Academy in 1849 with a landscape entitled ‘The Gravel Pit’. The following year he was be elected a member of the Society of British Artists in 1850, and later its Vice-President in 1867.

Cole’s son George Vicat Cole who was taught by his father went on to become a Royal Academician and one of the late 19th century’s finest landscape painters. In the latter’s biography, George Cole was remembered as “a man of great capabilities and force of character. His native genius raised him from an obscure position to an honourable place in the ranks of English artists. A gentleman always, he had singularly attractive and winning manners. Geniality, kindness of heart, and unaffected modesty were united in him with keen humour and bright intelligence. In early days, as a painter of horses and other animals, he was a frequent guest in many a country house, where his presence was always acceptable.”

Following his death in September 1883, George Cole’s obituary in The Times remembered him as “a notable example of one who, though commencing life in a dull provincial town, unassisted by a master or any regular art education yet by perseverance and hard work, fought his way to, and won, eminence.”

Between 1838 and 1883 Cole exhibited 223 at the Royal Society of British Artists, 19 at the Royal Academy, and 35 at the British Institution in London. Today, paintings by George Cole can be found in the collections of Manchester City Galleries, Museums Sheffield, and the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Dimensions: (framed) 81cm x 112cm (32 x 44”)

Dimensions: (canvas only) 61cm x 91cm (24” x 36”)

Medium: Oil on canvas.

Provenance: 1878; exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists (catalogue no.53) where sold for £350 (£33,000). Circa 1980; with Lyver and Boydell Galleries, Liverpool. Thence in private UK collection.

Presentation: Newly commissioned bespoke gold metal leaf frame. All of the new frames we commission are especially made for us to order by one of the UK’s top period frame makers.

Condition: Very good. Newly professionally cleaned, restored, and re-varnished. Ready to hang.



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