the Convalescent, 1862


the Convalescent by William Gale, 1862

This delightful picture depicts two of the most popular subjects for Victorian artists, leisure-time and convalescence. A young mother is recovering from an illness beside the seaside at one of the many resorts that experienced a heyday in the nineteenth century. She clearly is on the mend and does not seem dangerously ill. Her husband is holding her hand and looking concerned, but not grief-stricken or panicked. Her daughters are quite content to dig in the sand and play with the bladder-wrack.

The 1850s and 1860s were the decades in which ordinary people were able to visit the seaside when bank holidays and Saturday half-holidays made it possible for working-class people to enjoy time away from home and work. The towns of Scarborough, Whitby, Blackpool, Ramsgate and Southport were changed beyond recognition by the influx of day-trippers and artists responded to the new-found interest in seaside subjects. The most famous example is William Powell Frith’s Life at the Seaside – Ramsgate Sands of 1854.

source: Sotheby’s

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