James Alder Fine Art
22-24 Hallgate
NE46 1XD


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Robert Sanderson (1848-1908)
Interesting Times

Medium: Oil on canvas
Size without frame: 9.4" x 7.4"
Size including frame: 14.9" x 13.1"

Robert Sanderson was a Scottish artist but he very often painted in Ireland. In fact there's almost always a pig in his paintings which indicates this connection, but in this painting it is confirmed as the laird is reading the Irish Times (hence our title), and is in discussion with the locals. A charming and dainty genre scene.

Interesting thoughts about the pig in some of Sanderson's pictures, thanks to the buyer:  

“Dunghill beside the entrance to the cottage fertilised the potato garden. The pig was not to be consumed by the family but to be fattened and eventually sold in anticipation of ‘Gale day’, when half a year’s rent was due. This most untidy animal must have sensed its own importance in the family’s scheme of things. Passing in and out of the cottage as freely as the children did, it nosed their legs out of the way in order to gobble up some potato leavings from the floor, dropped excrement when and where it pleased, and even slept on the straw between parents and children.”

“God knows, the tone of the higher orders towards the lower of this unhappy land was always harsh and unfeeling enough. When they were in wealth from the rents of fellow creatures, who, to pay those rents, lived as pigs with their pigs, they still spoke of them, and to them, in a way which grieved as
it astonished.”

They sold first the manure pile outside the cabin, then the family pig if the family was lucky enough to have one, for whatever they could to buy oats or meal. When this food was consumed, they pawned their clothing, their furniture, their utensils, and their agricultural and fishing equipment to buy more food. Financially, with nothing left to sell or pawn, they went into the fields for herbs. With England’s help, the potato and a pig created and sustained the squalor, for when the latter was sold and the rent paid, anything left over was needed for the tithe (one tenth the value of his produce) to the Anglican Church, to which he did not belong. As Lord McCauley put it, “between the poorest English peasant and the Irish peasant there is ample room for 10 or 12 well- marked degrees of poverty.


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Interesting Times.Robert Sanderson. Interesting Times.R.Sanderson.Frame. Interesting Times.R.Sanderson.Back.
Interesting Times.Robert Sanderson. Interesting Times.R.Sanderson.Frame. Interesting Times.R.Sanderson.Back.

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