News from My Lad

James Campbell1858/1859

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

An old locksmith in his shop is reading a letter from his son, a soldier in India. The letter begins ‘Lucknow March 1858. My dear old Daddy, I dare say you will read this in the old shop and here am I under the burning sun of India’. The Indian Mutiny of 1858 and the massacre of British troops inspired paintings by a number of artists. Most of them did not depict the violence of battle, but preferred to show war in terms of more reassuring domestic incidents. The inclusion of a letter in Victorian narrative paintings was a common way of bringing in events or places beyond the single moment and location depicted.

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  • Title: News from My Lad
  • Creator: James Campbell
  • Date Created: 1858/1859
  • tag / style: James Campbell; Pre-Raphaelite; genre; Lucknow; letter; locksmith; India; Indian Mutiny; workshop; tools; anvil; old man; reading; workbench
  • Physical Dimensions: w495 x h543 cm (Without frame)
  • Artwork History: Formerly owned by George Rae of Birkenhead, a banker who formed an important Pre-Raphaelite collection.
  • Artist biographical information: James Campbell was a genre and landscape painter. During the greater part of his career he was known as James Campbell Junior to distinguish him from his father of the same name. His work for a time showed the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites. He started broadening his style in 1862 and at the end of that year moved to London, where he unsuccessfully tried to pursue his career until the mid-1870s. His later work showed a considerable falling off and late in life he became blind.
  • Additional artwork information: To learn more about the Walker Art Gallery’s Pre-Raphaelite collection follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/online/pre-raphaelites/
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Purchased in 1964