- 08 Apr 2016
In 1812, a porter named William Cantrill published a small volume of etchings dedicated to his employer, the Marchioness of Stafford. Cantrill characterized his reproductions of a select group of small Netherlandish pictures from the art gallery at the Marchioness’s London residence, Cleveland House, as “first attempts from an untutored hand”, calling attention to his status as a servant and untrained artist.
Anne Nellis Richter examines this idiosyncratic volume in light of the reception of small subject pictures in the early nineteenth century, and also within the context of the Marchioness of Stafford’s involvement in the Highland Clearances. At a moment when the Marchioness and her husband were under scrutiny for the heavy-handed tactics used against their Scottish tenants, this book used the category of genre painting to smooth over the gaps between landowner and tenant that the Clearances had made evident.