Edward John Cobbett (British, 1815-1899)
Oil on canvas, signed and dated “1864.”
Painting size: 39” x 60”
Frame size: 48” x 69”
Edward John Cobbett was an accomplished painter of landscapes and genre scenes. He trained with J.W. Allen, who also specialized in landscapes, and regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1833 to 1880. Cobbett also exhibited at Suffolk Street and the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts and was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists. He lived in London and Surrey.
This work is a strong example of Victorian genre painting and, in particular, genre scenes of young children that were so appealing to 19th-century audiences .
Here two girls have been taken on a summer outing by a young woman-- perhaps their mother or nurse. The three sit on the ground among the grasses and leaves beside a lake. The older girl has tucked a poppy in her hat while her younger sister examines a bachelor button. Their interest in their environment upholds the notion of “the child of nature,” a pure entity that has not yet been touched by experience or disappointment in life. Their caregiver, meanwhile, is so young as to be almost a child herself with her fresh face and graceful body. While at leisure with her charges she knits, for she is never idle--an idealized vision of Victorian womanhood.
Admired for his attention to detail, Cobbett is particularly adept at capturing the textures of different elements in this pastorale: the scabrous, dying ferns and the sharp green grasses; the soft folds of the caregiver’s cloak; the smoothness of the ceramic water jug; and the nubby surface of the woven basket. Cobbett’s technical facility in combination with the painting’s gently sentimental subject no doubt charmed 19th-century viewers as they do art enthusiasts today.
Edward John Cobbett is represented in the permanent collections of the York Art Gallery in England. He is listed in the "Dictionary of British Art, Volume IV": Victorian Painters" (Wood, 1995); "Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs" (Bénézit, 1998); "Popular 19th Century Painting" (Hook & Poltimore, 1987); and "The Dictionary of British Artists, 1880-1940 (Johnson & Greutzner, 1980).