Never Mind by Arthur John Elsley
Never Mind by Arthur John Elsley Never Mind by Arthur John Elsley Never Mind by Arthur John Elsley Never Mind by Arthur John Elsley Never Mind by Arthur John Elsley
Never Mind by Arthur John Elsley

Never Mind by Arthur John Elsley

  • The joy of childhood is the subject of this charming oil on canvas by Arthur John Elsley
  • One of his masterpieces, it features two of his favored subjects - a St. Bernard and his daughter
  • His touching portrayals made him the greatest painter of children and animals of his generation
  • His works are among the most highly sought after paintings of the Victorian era
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Arthur John Elsley
1862-1952 | British

Never Mind

Signed and dated “Arthur J Elsley 1907” (lower left)
Oil on canvas

British artist Arthur John Elsley captures the free spirit and innocence of childhood in this delightful oil on canvas. The monumental and masterfully composed work, entitled Never Mind, perfectly illustrates why Elsley is considered the preeminent painter of children and animals. His idealized depictions of the lives of children found particular popularity among the middle and upper classes of Victorian society. Never Mind, with its timeless atmosphere and irresistible sentimentality, embodies his ability to evoke the carefree joy of childhood.

The work depicts three joyful children playing with a trio of exuberant kittens as their devoted Saint Bernard watches on. Saint Bernards were a favorite breed of Elsley's, and he depicted these good-natured dogs in over 30 of his compositions throughout his career. Here, his Saint Bernard personifies the gentle giant, dwarfing both the children and the kittens that join it in the scene. A simple, yet heartwarming narrative, Elsley's Never Mind brings together all of the best features of his works, including his vivid use of color and keen eye for detail.

Though he began his career as an animal painter, Elsley expanded his subjects to include both children and animals in his tender portraits. He used his paintings to elevate the place of the pet within the family dynamic, showing them more as loving members of the family rather than in the role of a working or hunting dog. In his sentimental portraits, the present work included, Elsley always successfully captures the delight and innocence of childhood. As a contemporary once remarked, "He knows all the ingredients that compose the children's paradise; a pony and a dog, a lovely garden and romping spirits untouched by any shade of care" (Bibby's Quarterly Summer 1908).

Born in 1860, Elsley studied at the South Kensington School of Art beginning at the age of fourteen, and submitted his first exhibit to the Royal Academy in 1878. He was soon to become the premier painter of animals and children of his age in England. He captured international attention with his charming paintings of children with animals, and his idyllic images have become synonymous with the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Circa 1907

Canvas: 46" high x 34 3/8" wide
Frame: 52 5/8" high x 40 5/8" wide

Exhibited:
The Royal Academy, 1907, no. 832

References:
The Academy Notes, London, 1907, The Royal Academy of Arts, p. 139 (illustrated)
Golden Hours: The Paintings of Arthur J. Elsley, London, 1998, by T. Parker, pp. 105, 107 (illustrated)
specifications
Artist: Elsley, Arthur John
Framed:40.625"W x 52.625"H
Unframed:34.375"W x 46"H
Period: 1816-1918
Origin:England
Subject:Children
Depth:2.75 Inches
Width:40.625 Inches
Height:52.625 Inches
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