Clarkson Frederick Stanfield R.A. (British, 1793-1867)

  • Sold

Clarkson Frederick Stanfield R.A. (British, 1793-1867)

Fisherfolk on a Coastal Path by a Jersey Round Tower

Oil on Canvas

  • Signed lower left.
  • Provenance; probably the collection of Major Leslie Sydney Marler O.B.E. (1900-1981) - see label verso.
  • Painting - 40.5cm x 61cm
  • Frame - 58cm x 78cm 


A superb example of the work of important 19th century English painter Clarkson Stanfield depicting fisherfolk heading home on a coastal path on Jersey with a Jersey Round Tower and a bay visible beyond.  For a comparable subject see Le Hocq Tower, Coast Scene in Government House, Jersey.  Signed lower left.


In very fine condition.  Professionally lined and conserved in the 20th century.  Clean, most attractive, well framed and ready to hang.  Presented in what is presumably its original 19th century wood and gilt composite frame by John & William Vokins - with the frame makers' stencil verso.

Artist Information

Clarkson Frederick Stanfield was a prominent English painter (often inaccurately credited as William Clarkson Stanfield) who was best known for his large-scale paintings of dramatic marine subjects and landscapes. He was the father of the painter George Clarkson Stanfield and the composer Francis Stanfield.  

Stanfield was born in Sunderland, the son of James Field Stanfield (1749–1824) an Irish-born author, actor and former seaman, and Mary Hoad, an artist and actress. Stanfield was likely to have inherited artistic talent from his mother, who is said to have been an accomplished artist, but died in 1801. His father remarried, to Maria Kell, a year later.  Stanfield was named after Thomas Clarkson, the slave trade abolitionist, whom his father knew, and this was the only forename he used, although there is reason to believe Frederick was a second one.  He was briefly apprenticed to a coach decorator in 1806, but left owing to the drunkenness of his master's wife and joined a South Shields collier to become a sailor. In 1808 he was pressed into the Royal Navy, serving in the guardship HMS Namur at Sheerness. Discharged on health grounds in 1814, he then made a voyage to China in 1815 on the East Indiaman Warley and returned with many sketches.

An accident forced Stanfield to leave active service, but during his voyages he had acquired considerable skill as a draughtsman. In August 1816 Stanfield was engaged as a decorator and scene-painter at the Royalty Theatre in Wellclose Square, London. Along with David Roberts he was afterwards employed at the Coburg theatre, Lambeth, and in 1823 he became a resident scene-painter at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where he rose rapidly to fame through the huge quantity of spectacular scenery and (moving) dioramas which he produced for that house until 1834.  Stanfield abandoned scenery painting after Christmas 1834, though he made exceptions for two personal friends: he designed scenery for the stage productions of William Charles Macready, and for the amateur theatricals of Charles Dickens.  Meanwhile, Stanfield developed his skills as an easel painter, especially of marine subjects; he first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1820 and continued, with only a few early interruptions, to his death. He was also a founder member of the Society of British Artists (from 1824) and its president for 1829, and exhibited there and at the British Institution, where in 1828 his picture Wreckers off Fort Rouge gained a premium of 50 guineas.

He was elected Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1832, and became a full Academician in February 1835. His elevation was in part a result of the interest of William IV who, having admired his St. Michael's Mount at the Academy in 1831 (now in the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia), commissioned two works from him of the Opening of New London Bridge (1832) and The Entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. Both remain in the Royal Collection.  Until his death he contributed a long series of powerful and highly popular works to the Academy, both of marine subjects and landscapes from his travels at home and in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Ireland. He illustrated Heath's Picturesque Annuals for the years 1832–34, and in 1838 published a collection of lithographic views on the Rhine, Moselle and Meuse; forty subjects from both sides of the English Channel were also steel-engraved under the title of Stanfield's Coast Scenery (1836). Among literary works for which he provided illustrations were Captain Marryat's The Pirate and the Three Cutters (1836), Poor Jack (1840) and the lives and works of Lord Byron, George Crabbe, and Samuel Johnson, mainly in editions by John Murray.

In his last 10 years, Stanfield's health deteriorated. He died in Hampstead, London, on 18 May 1867; there was an unfinished painting on his easel and a previous work, A Skirmish off Heligoland, hanging in a Royal Academy exhibition. He was buried in Kensal Green Catholic Cemetery.  Lifelong friend of Stanfield, the writer Charles Dickens, was one of the last visitors that Stanfield saw on the day he died. After Stanfield's death, Dickens wrote: "He was the soul of frankness, generosity and simplicity. The most genial, the most affectionate, the most loving and the most lovable of men. Success had never for an instant spoiled him . . . He had been a sailor once; and all the best characteristics that are popularly attributed to sailors, being his, and being in him refined by the influence of his Art, formed a whole not likely to be often seen."  In 1870, three years after his death, Stanfield was awarded a major retrospective of his work at the inaugural Royal Academy Winter Exhibition. In its appraisal of the show, The Times wrote: "There are no English painters whose works have won wider and warmer popularity outside the artistic pale. Stanfield's practiced command of the artist of composition, his unerring sense of the agreeable and picturesque in subject and effect, his pleasant and cheerful color and last, not least, the large use to which he turned his knowledge and love of the sea and shipping… (all) added to the widespread admiration he had won by his consummately skillful scene painting, (and) combined to make him one of the most popular, if not the most popular, of landscape painters."