A Mountain River Landscape by William Reay

William Reay, (Australian, 1831-1903), “Untitled (By the Falls)”-1886, oil on canvas, signed and dated to lower right “W. Reay 1886”. Figural landscape painting depicting a fisherman near cascading falls.

William Reay, painter, art teacher, poet and coal-miner, was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, where, his obituarist claimed, he studied art under William Bell Scott and H.H. Emmerson then practised as a painter in various (unspecified) parts of England until he, his wife and their young child, migrated to New South Wales in 1861.  Reay discovered that no artistic patronage awaited him and he was soon working as a coal-miner in Newcastle, New South Wales.  His large oil painting which toured to Newcastle, Maitland and Sydney, “Adam and Eve Expelled from Paradise” (unlocated), was, in effect an allegory of the Reays’ colonial situation.  However, if it was the same painting as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which was attributed to a self-taught painter and long-term Newcastle resident called ‘Bedford’ then Reay may have sent it out to the colonies before deciding to join it there.  A painting of a similar subject was touring the New South Wales goldfields in 1855.  If not the same person, the two painters certainly appear to have had a lot in common.  The success of Reay’s Expulsion picture in Sydney led to a commission to paint the portrait of Governor Sir John Young (later Lord Lisgar) plus a number of other portraits now found in various state buildings in Australia.

Dimensions: 34.5″ ( 88 cm ) H x 45″ ( 115 cm ) W

Ref. AO WR3522


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