Barn Door Fowl (Rhode Island Reds) by William Huggins. Signed and dated 1860. Oil on artist's millboard: 11 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches, 28.5 x 39 centimetres. Provenance: Alderman E. Samuelson, 1886; Lowndes Lodge Gallery, 1966
Exhibited: Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Grand Loan Exhibition of Pictures, 1886, number 1443; London, Lowndes Lodge Gallery, Pictures and Drawings from Yorkshire Houses, April 1963, number 9; London, Lowndes Lodge Gallery, William Huggins of Liverpool, November 1966, number 16
Commentary by Sally Burgess and Peter Nahum
Barn Door Fowl is painted with the painstaking and time consuming attention to detail pioneered by the London Pre-Raphaelites, who had been successfully encouraged to exhibit at the Liverpool Academy in the early 1850s and subsequently had been taken up by the patrons ofthe Liverpool School. Both technically and philosophically, this intimte study of Rhode Island Reds can be seen in sharp contrast to the rapidly produced sketches of the French Impressionists, although the artist's conception of the background anticipates the loose, free handling of his French colleagues.
Williams Huggins preferred to paint onto millboard, a technique which is praised by Marillier in his account of the artist: "When size permitted he selected a smooth white millboard on which, after making a careful outline in pencil, he proceeded to glaze very strongly and richly with transparent colours, using the mill-board below as a light showing through the thin colour. The opaque lights were carefully placed exactly where they were needed, great care being taken not to muddy the colour."
Nahum, Peter, and Sally Burgess. Pre-Raphaelite-Symbolist-Visionary. London: Peter Nahum at Leicester Galleries. Catalogue number 25.
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Last modified 11 August 2006