Before the 19th Century, animals were kept in their place in paintings. However, the Victorian era brought with it a huge expansion to the middle classes, most of whom kept a pet. These newly respectable families took delight in seeing human emotions and familiar domestic situations portrayed through the antics of animals in art.
Arthur John Elsley was a fine example of this phenomenon of Victorian animal art. Born in 1861, he was famous for his landscapes as well as for his animal and children scenes.
Resident in St. John's Wood, London, he exhibited at all the most prestigious British art institutions between 1880 and 1927. His work was regularly exhibited at the Royal Society of Artists in Birmingham, the Glasgow Institute of Fine Art, and the Royal Society of British Artists. Other regular exhibitions of his work took place with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Royal Academy.
Arthur Elsley was the most popular of the chocolate box artists of the Victorian and Edwardian era and contemporary reproductions of his work far outstripped any of the other artists whom we now associate with the period.
Arthur Elsley died in 1952.