Thomas Edward Francis exhibited works at the major art venues in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, notably the Royal Academy, the New English Art Club, The Royal Society of British Artists, the London Salon and the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. The son of a lawyer/painter, he was fond of walking tours throughout England as well as the continent. He sometimes used the pseudonyms Arthur Drew, and amusingly, Pierre Le Boeuf; the latter, it is said, so that he could command a higher price for the works he created in Europe. He often indicated the exact place of his subjects; in the case of this painting, on the reverse.
This is a charming and romantic depiction of the timber-framed cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon where William Shakespeare was born and spent his early years. The artist has captured the ambience of both the house and the garden. With broad brush strokes, Mr. Francis has given life to the house in colors of terra cotta, gold and gray, while connecting the garden to it in both style and color. It was painted on a wood board.
The background of the robin’s egg blue sky with the billowing clouds adds to the romantic appeal. The artist also shows garden statuary and the stone path leading to the house. Francis depicts here the enchantment of the cottage within its pretty gardens before the modern concrete and glass museum built next to it destroyed much of that feel.
The painting is signed “T.E. Francis,” on the bottom right. On the back of the wood board is an inscription in pencil reading: “Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon (from the garden).” (See photo; however, this is more discernible in normal light rather than that from the camera flash.)
The painting is housed in its original, wood and gesso gilded frame with a wide, gesso adjoining slip. The gesso work is principally in the corners and in the middle of each section of frame. The frame is well-curved and has additional decorations of ribbon-like designs.
The painting is in excellent, original antique condition. It was previously under glass, which I removed for better viewing. The gesso frame has numerous losses to the gesso work throughout. There is some darkening to the gilding and a few places where the gesso work shows its age crazing. The gold color on the slip has gone to a beautiful, soft gold color with a lustrous sheen.
It measures 13-¾ inches wide by 11-¾ inches high, including the frame.