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Joseph Vincent Gibson (1828-1913)

The Cottage Home Signed and dated 1856

Oil on millboard | 35.4 x 27.6 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405083

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  • On 5 May 1857, Prince Albert visited Manchester to open the Art Treasures exhibition at Trafford Park. The Queen did not accompany him as she had recently given birth to Princess Beatrice. On the following day the Prince travelled to the nearby town of Salford to unveil a statue of Queen Victoria by Matthew Noble in Peel Park, and afterwards attended an exhibition of work by local artists at Salford Museum. It was there that this painting by the Manchester-born artist J V Gibson caught his attention. The Art Journal reported that the Prince was so delighted with the picture that he asked to meet the artist in person – but unfortunately Gibson could not be found (1861, p.228).

    The picture had already been bought, presumably for the purpose of engraving, by the Manchester print dealers Messrs Agnew & Sons, but they agreed to relinquish it to the Prince. Although the artist was not particularly well known at that date, by 1862 he was exhibiting at the Royal Academy and would continue to do so intermittently until 1888. The purchase of an early painting by the Prince provides another illustration of his patronage of up-and-coming contemporary artists.

    A typical example of Gibson's work, The Cottage Home depicts a contemporary domestic scene – a young girl in the process of preparing food for a meal. The picture was praised in the Art Journal for both the character of the girl, who was considered a 'tidy, careful person' and for its stylistic features, being 'bright in colour, with an effective distribution of light and shade' (1861, p.228). The influence of seventeenth century Dutch genre artists such as Frans van Mieris, in both the subject matter and the meticulous style of painting, was also noted. The Cottage Home, however, does not display the elaborate symbolism and moralistic messages frequently seen in pictures of that period, and while tinged with touches of realism it remains an idealised vision of rural life during the middle years of Queen Victoria's reign.

    Signed and dated: J.V. Gibson / 1856

    Text adapted from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010

    Purchased by Prince Albert (£15 18s) from Agnew & Sons and given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert on her birthday, 24th May 1859. [Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010, pg 459]

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on millboard


    35.4 x 27.6 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    59.2 x 51.1 x 4.1 cm (frame, external)