Manchester from Kersal Moor, with rustic figures and goats

William Wyld1852

Royal Collection Trust, UK

Royal Collection Trust, UK
London, United Kingdom

Queen Victoria had first seen William Wyld's work in 1843 in the collection of her aunt Louise, Queen of the Belgians. She chose some of these watercolours for her own collection and Queen Louise subsequently ordered more works from Wyld to send to Victoria. The artist was invited to stay at Balmoral in September and October 1852. In a letter to a friend he wrote: 'I am well and getting on very well with Her Majesty, who altho' a Queen is one of the most amiable women I have ever spoke to, and so completely does she put you at ease that I am no more embarrassed talking to her that to you.'
The Queen had visited Liverpool on 9 October 1851 and Manchester over the following two days, and commissioned a watercolour of each of the cities from Wylde soon after. Manchester was then the world's greatest producer of cotton textiles and with Salford had grown rapidly to a conurbation of almost 400,000 inhabitants by mid-century. The overcrowding and slum conditions of the workers' housing were a severe social problem, and the Queen noted in her Journal: 'The mechanics and work-people, dressed in their best, were ranged along the streets in their button-holes; both in Salford and Manchester, a very intelligent but painfully unhealthy-looking population they all were, men as well as women'. Wyld's view of the city is however overly romantic. The smoking chimneys serve only to accentuate the golden light of the setting sun, as in a painting by Claude, and the rustics and goats in the foreground are similarly reminiscent of the views of Italy produced in great numbers by the English watercolourists of the previous half century.
Signed lower left W Wyld 1852


  • Title: Manchester from Kersal Moor, with rustic figures and goats
  • Creator: Wyld, William
  • Date Created: 1852
  • Physical Dimensions: w491 x h319 mm
  • Type: Prints & drawings
  • Rights: Supplied by Royal Collection Trust / (c) HM Queen Elizabeth II 2012
  • External Link: http://www.rct.uk/collection/920223
  • Medium: Watercolour and bodycolour with gum arabic and some scraping out, over graphite
  • Support: paper
  • Provenance: Commissioned by Queen Victoria for her Souvenir Album
  • Object description: A romantic view of the city of Manchester with many church spires and smoking chimneys, seen from an idyllic country park (Kersal Moor) with lake.

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