Eastham—Fishergirl on the Mersey Foreshore, 1854, by William Davis (1812-1873). Oil on board, 33 x 50.5 cm (13 x 19 7/8 inches). Signed v centre: "Eastham / W. Davis W. Davis 1854." Inscribed lower right on label: "218. / Eastham / W. Davis." Provenance: bought as Lot 446, Bonhams, Chester, March 16-18 2010. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Commentary by Paul Crowther

Davis did much work in the Eastham area (situated on the western bank of the River Mersey, opposite Liverpool, on the east). Allen Staley has analyzed Davis's Old Eastham Ferry from the 1850s (Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Birkenhead) which looks to the south and east (Newall and Staley 84). Our picture, in contrast, is looking north. This different spatial orientation comes with a different stylistic emphasis, also. Staley notes that the Old Eastham Ferry picture has a broad handling (found mainly in Davis's earlier pictures). The present work, however, is rather more closely observed, and—despite possibly pre-dating the other picture—carries an abundance of detail and sinewy contours that is highly characteristic of Pre-Raphaelite treatments of landscape in the 1850s. This picture's use of a solitary female figure is a familiar compositional motif in Davis's work.

You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Crowther-Oblak Collection of Victorian Art and and the National Gallery of Slovenia and the Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway (2) and link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


Crowther, Paul. Awakening Beauty: The Crowther-Oblak Collection of Victorian Art. Exhibition catalogue. Ljubljana: National Gallery of Slovenia; Galway: Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, 2014. No. 25.

Last modified 8 December 2014