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RICHARD M. RAYNER AT DUDLEY

Note: Richard Rayner's life as an artist is covered on a separate page as part of the Rayner family of artists. Here we look at his contribution to the local history of Dudley in the West Midlands (UK).

Above: Richard's watercolour view of the Dudley Area - but we don't know from where, nor in which direction he was looking! Suggestions welcome to dudleymall@dudleymall.co.uk. Right: Richard as depicted in his carte de visite of 1862, three years before he and his older sister Louise came to make their Dudley sketches.

We have no finished pictures. Instead, we have drawings from his sketch books of the time, with the notes he made about colours as he studied his subjects. Notes on colour and atmosphere tended to be very accurate (according to his perception of them, of course) because it was common for members of the Rayner family to make sketches on site, but create the final paintings (if paintings ever resulted) elsewhere and at a later date. In the case of his sister Louise's paintings of Dudley Market and Dudley High Street, these seem to have been considerably later, possibly c.1870 as they are usually dated. But it is important to remember that the image detail would date from when they were originally sketched, so those two paintings will actually reflect Dudley in 1865.

Sketches of Dudley Castle

The well-known triple gate. The note in the grass (bottom right) is not very readable, but relates to the way the stonework has been smashed.


Richard's note (bottom left) says "Gateway in the keep of Dudley Castle, September 15th 1865".


Richard makes no comment on his sketch of the castle's main buildings, but Andrew King comments: The Sharrington Range of buildings at Dudley were designed by Sir William Sharrington for John Dudley Duke of Northumberland in 1545. They are some of the earliest standing Renaissance-inspired buildings in the country, and could also be the first sign of the 'Elizabethan' style (before she actually became Queen) - and well before Longleat of 1572.


The Dudley Lime Kilns
We are indebted to Andrew King for the following notes on Richard Rayner's portrayal of the old lime kilns near Dudley Castle (near enough, indeed, for there to be mining galleries all round the castle itself).


Above: Richard Rayner's coloured sketch of the Dudley lime kilns. The kilns can also be seen to the right of the sketch below.



The Richard Rayner watercolour sketch of the lime kilns and the companion pencil sketch show the area at the 'Tipton portal' of the canal on what is now the site of the Black Country Museum in Dudley. Both are from a sketch pad which includes drawings of Dudley Castle, one of which is dated 1865.

[Above is the pencil sketch as a full panorama, and below are close-ups of the scene.]



Here we see the canal, with boats being worked energetically around each other. This presumably looks towards Tipton across the line of where the Birmingham New Road now runs. The other close-up shows work around the kilns - now long gone, of course.


The description below the pencil sketch is interesting, if difficult to read, so my interpretation is printed here instead. Though Richard intended them as memory prompts when painting, they give an eloquent verbal portrayal of the vicinity as it was.

features in distance: - general tone of buildings red. (very few slate roofs) Very mysterious indication of distant hill & town & same colour - only little deeper than smoke. - pigeons in distant smoke sparkle. A few flames from blast furnaces seen in extreme distance - smoke warm in tone and graduating into the yellow white smoke from lime kilns on right (blue sky seen at top right hand & ----?) which is blown downwards and away. Comes principally from the second nearest and slightly hides other two. Works over coalpit on left, largest & brightest object in distance. Some chimneys light against smokey distance. Windows dark with light framework - markings very crisp.

features in middle distance: - dark coaly bank (with light fence on it) running from left hand coalpit to canal, and repeated a little on opposite side. Field hay coloured, broken with patches of green & showing banks and patches of ash coal & yellow colour, trees dark & warm in tone. Canal bluish in distance, getting mud coloured towards foreground. Towing path on left side warm & light in colour, not so light on right side. Barges warm in tone with very decided markings at front & end under (seats?) etc much variety in colour of those in foreground. Grey banks of ashes on right of canal.

features in foreground: - little bushes in centre, very decided bit of grey fence & red brick cottage. Lime kilns - vide sketch - upper sloping bank broken grey loose stone & hay coloured grass. Inside of old lime kilns red bricked except foremost one where bricks have fallen away & which is grey earth patched with grass. Ruined archways warm coloured stone, horses and figures lying down and in motion. - 'Black country'

Below, the panorama coloured by one of Richard's descendants. Though not finished, it turns Richard's notes into something with considerable atmosphere (though not, by the look of it, much oxygen).


The sketches were used in a submission for 'World Heritage' status for the area a few years ago, and the watercolour was photographed again fairly recently for use as a poster sized illustration in the Black Country Museum.

                Harry Drummond, December 2003.

Please take note: we claim no art expertise, and in no way do we offer provenance for any paintings. What you see here was compiled out of interest in Louise Rayner's paintings and those by her family, but is based on sometimes very fragmentary evidence. As such, it is inevitable that there will be errors, though we naturally hope to reduce these over time.

We would gratefully receive any information or corrections that will help us to fill the gaps and resolve unproved links - for example confirmation of dates of birth, death, etc., and details of other addresses the family lived at (and roughly when). Images of any of the family's paintings would also be very welcome. Thank you!

Copyright © 2003 DudleyMall.

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