Ansdell, Richard (DNB01)

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ANSDELL, RICHARD (1815–1885), animal painter, a native of Liverpool, was born on 11 May 1815, and baptised at St. Peter’s Church in that city. His grandfather had salt works in the neighbourhood of Northwich. He was educated at the Bluecoat school, Liverpool, and, although attracted by art in youth, did not devote himself to it with a view to making it his profession till he was twenty-one. While in Liverpool he studied animal life in the country-side. His first appearance in London was in 1840, when two of his pictures, ‘Grouse Shooting’ and ‘Galloway Farm,’ were exhibited at the Royal Academy. There followed in 1842 an important historical picture, ‘The Death of Sir William Lambton;’ but here, as in most of his pictures, the subject is not the main thing, and was selected for representation because the scene was on Marston Moor, and the agonies of a wounded horse could be well portrayed there. His paintings from this time forward were very numerous. His success made it possible for him to travel, and between 1857 and 1860 his subjects were found in Spain. His earlier paintings show traces of Landseer’s influence, and there are works of that period produced by Ansdell and Creswick together, the latter supplying the landscape, in which be excelled. His other collaborators were Mr. W. P. Frith, with whom he painted ‘The Keeper’s Daughter,’ and John Phillip, who helped with the Spanish pictures.

Ansdell was honoured no less than three times with the Haywood medal, a gift awarded to the best pictures shown at the exhibitions in Manchester. In 1855 he received a gold medal at the Great Exhibition in Paris, the pictures which won it being ‘The Wolf Slayer’ and ‘Taming the Drove.’ He was elected A.R.A, in 1861, and R.A. in 1870. He exhibited in London galleries, mostly at the Royal Academy, as many as 181 works. The average price of his pictures between 1861 and 1884 was as nearly as possible 750l. A view of St. Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, was purchased by Baron Albert Grant, and realised, at the baron’s sale in April 1877, 1,410l. 10s.

In the print room of the British Museum are a few indifferent etchings by Ansdell. Engravings after his works are numerous enough to prove that copies of his works are much in request.

In his later years Ansdell lived at Lytham House, Kensington, whence he removed to Collingwood Tower, Farnborough. There he died on 20 April 1885. He was buried at Brookwood cemetery on the 23rd. He married in St. Peter’s Church, Liverpool, on 14 June 1841, Maria Romer, also of Liverpool. There were eleven children of the marriage, and six sons and two daughters survived the artist.

[Sanders’s Celebrities of the Century; Cyclopædia of Painters and Paintings, 1886; Painters and their Works, 1896; Dict. of British Artists, 1895; W. P. Frith’s Autobiography (1889); Times, 21, 22, 24 April 1885; Liverpool Daily Post, 21 April 1885; Art Journal, 1860; private information.]

E. R.