A Charming Edwardian Period English School Oil on Canvas of an African Elephant Dated to 1906 by E Whiteley

Origin: English
Period: Edwardian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1906
In Frame: 22.5” high x 16.5” wide
The Canvas: 19.25” h x 13.25” wide

The wonderfully charming oil on canvas painting depicting a large African Elephant, shown in profile with large tusks, realised on a dark inky green charcoal ground surviving from Edwardian period England, and signed E Whiteley May 1906.

The picture is in fair overall condition with an even amount of craquelure to its surface. There are a few areas of flaked loss as seen in the photographs, with one area most prominent to the upper edge. This makes the picture decorative and, we think, at its most charming. The background was once probably more of a dark green but has now taken on an inky black hue with the green showing through under. The picture has not been cleaned or restored at any point.

The stamp of “G Rowney and Co London W Quality B” is found verso to the canvas and is one of very few artists’ supply businesses in the world with its origins in the 18th century still trading today, with Winsor & Newton its closest rival. The business was established as T. & R. Rowney in 1783 by brothers Thomas and Richard Rowney as a perfume maker and wig supplier with a shop on Holborn Hill in London, and soon moved into supplying writing materials and then artists' materials, supplying many well-known artists, including J. M. W. Turner. In their pomp they were notable for 'the array of colour-boxes, the walls of sketch-books, the plantations of brushes and groves of pencils, besides every other species of artistical materials and implements of every variety and in endless quantity'.

Although we cannot find any other work by an artist by the name of E Whiteley this beautiful creature is sensitively depicted and the hand is certainly better than that of an amateur.

1906 in England saw the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines open on London’s underground, the first international rugby match and Rolls Royce first registering as a company. Whilst in May 1906, when this painting was painted Vauxhall Bridge in London was opened to much acclaim.

We love antique paintings that are depicted in profile and with the picture being dated, and the sitter being an elephant, there really isn’t anything not to like here.