William Atherton, a wealthy woollen draper, was an Alderman of Preston and a close friend and political associate of the artist’s father. His patronage may have helped establish Devis’s career as a painter of small-scale group portraits in the north-west. The painting is a calculated mixture of solid domestic reality and invention: in actual fact the Atherton’s house overlooked Preston market square, not a landscape garden. The painting was once thought to date from just after the couple’s honeymoon (when Devis would have been still in his teens) but is now believed to have been made not long before William Atherton’s death in 1745.


  • Title: Mr and Mrs Atherton
  • Creator: Arthur Devis
  • Creator Lifespan: 1711/1787
  • Creator Nationality: British
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Preston, Lancashire, England
  • Creator Birth Place: Preston, Lancashire, England
  • Date Created: About 1743
  • tag / style: Arthur Devis; portraiture; interior; dog; sewing; couple; cupboard; furniture; chair; window; vase; fireplace; window; William Atherton
  • Physical Dimensions: w1270 x h920 cm (Without frame)
  • Additional artwork information: To learn more about the Walker Art Gallery’s 18th-century collection please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/18c/
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Purchased in 1940

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