Robert John Hammond’s distinctive style is as sought-after today as it was in his own time. His cottage/garden/figures with rosy cheeks subject matter was a good formula for him as it kept him busy as an artist between the years 1879 and 1911. Though born in London in 1853, he moved to the Midlands area later on.
According to “A Catalogue of Birmingham & West Midlands Painters of the 19th Century,” Hammond mainly placed his romantic scenes from the middle of England. His paintings certainly never reflect the griminess of the effects of the Industrial Revolution; with Hammond you get charming cottages in idyllic situations or scenes set in the delights of a summer’s day, perhaps peopled with sublimely happy peasants out enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. It is said that his paintings were bought up by those in the rising ranks of the expanding middle class who became successful in the industrial cities after leaving the villages of their youth and wished to remember their early years more ideally than was the reality.
Hammond exhibited 80 works at the Royal Society of British Artists, Birmingham, during his lifetime. He also exhibited at the Manchester City Art Gallery. Hammond is a museum-represented artist, with a major work at the Birmingham Museum.
Having been fortunate enough to have had several examples of Hammond’s works over the years, I can say that this painting has all the elements for which he is known and loved. It is a traditional type of Victorian landscape in done in primary earth colors and finely painted. It is signed on the canvas on the reverse and dated 1880.
The painting is housed in its original wood and gesso, ornate frame. It is typical of the wide, deeply molded and heavily embossed frames that were favored in this period. It has a wide, flat gilded slip that separates the painting from the pretty frame.
The painting is in original, excellent condition. It has a bit of craquelure in places, but overall the oil was thickly applied and has great presence. The frame has small gesso losses throughout, which is often the case with this type of heavily embossed Victorian frame. However, I don’t feel that the small bits of missing gesso detract from the attractiveness of the painting. The individual designs of the scrolls and the other work shows the usual amount of separation which is also to be expected with this massive type of frame.
This is a delightful vignette painted by a talented artist who knew not only what we wanted to see, but how we feel about it. I can’t imagine where you couldn’t find a space for such a pretty example of this artist’s work.
It measures 30 inches wide by 22 inches high, including the frame. The frame and slip total 5 inches in width.
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