WILLIAM FREDERICK WITHERINGTON RA (1785-1865)
PRE-RAPHAELITE (founded 1848)
On the Greta (England, 1858)
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated lower right W F Witherington RA 1858
Christie's, London, Sale 9th June 1967, lot 178, titled Extensive landscape with rabbits on a bank, sold for 80 guineas
Phillips, London, Sale 5th June, 1990, lot 83, titled The Rabbit Warren
The stretcher bears a sticker: Exhibited at the Royal Academy 138 times/ Exhibited at the British Institute (?)62 times; Christie's number: 78PN
Possibly London, Royal Academy, 1858
Description / Expertise
William Frederick Witherington’s long career at the Royal Academy spanned fifty-three years of arguably the most exciting, progressive and crucial period in the history of English Landscape painting. His one-hundred-and-thirty-eight exhibits, from 1811 to 1864, follow the transformation of the genre through the nineteenth century, beginning with pastorals inspired by John Constable, with broad brushstrokes and rich impasto and ending with late Victorian works, such as this view of a river, painted in meticulous detail and thin layers of paint echoing the landscapes of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood founded ten years earlier.
In 1858, Witherington exhibited four river scenes at the Royal Academy, A pleasant way by the river, Crossing the stream and two others titled more specifically On the Greta, a spectacular river that flows through the Lake District and County Durham. One of these bears an inscription which calls to mind the current landscape whose view point is from the shadow of trees: On the Greta. “Her waters wind Free for a space and unconfined As ‘scaped from Brignall’s dark-wood glen.”
Witherington was born in an old Elizabethan house in Goswell Street, London. A prolific drawer as a child, he initially followed his father into business. However on befriending an Academy student he entered the Royal Academy Schools as a probationer in 1805.