Chester's 'favourite artist' celebrated in Grosvenor Museum exhibition
13 February 2015An exhibition celebrating the work of Chester’s favourite artist is now on display at the city’s Grosvenor Museum.
‘Louise Rayner: Victorian Watercolours’, which runs until April 19, displays the largest public collection of her work.
The much-loved watercolours of Louise Rayner (1832-1924) present a uniquely charming vision of Victorian Chester. She delighted in the textures of crumbling plaster, weather-beaten timber, peeling posters and rough cobbles.
Her views of Chester’s picturesque streets are brought vividly to life with ordinary people going about their everyday lives in the sunlit city.
Louise Rayner has become Chester’s favourite artist, and is admired as much today as in her lifetime.
She painted major public buildings such as the Castle and the Town Hall, famous half-timbered houses such as Bishop Lloyd’s Palace and the Bear and Billet, and long-vanished corners of the historic city such as St Werburgh’s Mount and Harvie’s Almshouses.
Louise Rayner was born in Derbyshire in 1832. Her father Samuel Rayner (1806-79) was an accomplished painter of architectural watercolours, and her mother, brother and four sisters were also artists. She was taught by her parents and their artist friends, and first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1852.
Louise Rayner is first recorded at Chester in 1869. She lived at 2 Ash Grove, off Wrexham Road, boarding with Robert Shearing (who owned a chemist’s shop in Watergate Street) and his wife Mary Anne.
From Chester she sent work to exhibitions in London and elsewhere, and in the 1870s and 80s spent a couple of months each summer in different British towns and cities.
In the 1890s her sister Margaret (1837-1920) came to lodge with her at Chester, where they taught watercolour drawing. They left Chester around 1910, and Louise died at St Leonards-on-Sea in 1924.
Councillor Stuart Parker, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Economy, said: “The exhibition includes four watercolours by Louise Rayner’s father Samuel and sister Margaret.
“They were bequeathed to the museum by Mrs Bessie Savage (1919-2013), and we are enormously grateful to her.
“The conservation of these pictures was funded by the Megan Gwynne-Jones Charitable Trust, and we greatly appreciate this very generous support.”
“I am delighted that the Trust has been able to fund the conservation of these pictures, which make an important contribution to this immensely attractive exhibition.”
Events for adults:
Events for Children and Adults:
Clive Pointon (left) and Councillor Stuart Parker admire a watercolour in the new Louise Rayner exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum.