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Updated December 19, 2016 7:16 PM

Prints that once hung in St Marks

SM117

"Pick A Back" 1907 by Arthur John Elsley

Left show the one I found in St Marks School and was in a terrible state, bottom left is the original oil painting.

Arthur Elsley's Pick-a-Back perfectly portrays the artist's favorite subject: a group of children engaged in play. As the youngest girl happily rides on the back of the oldest one, her sash streaming behind her, she is joined in the game by a joyful audience of a third admiring girl and two playful dogs. Painted in 1907, Pick-A-Back's dynamic composition and multiple focal points reveal the artist's sensitivity to the Edwardians' newfound preoccupation with the joys of childhood.

Terry Parker's book Golden Hours identifies one of the subjects of the work (the girl at far right) as a local called Ivy, who had three siblings also named for flowers: Rose, Lily, and (Sweet) William. The dog at right was named Spot, and was owned by the artist's wife's cousin, Lily Coccioletti. The oldest girl was named Queenie and she carries the artist's beloved daughter Marjorie. This use of local friends and family members for his models was typical of the artist, and lends the works their considerable personal charm. The whole scene epitomizes healthy activity and fun. The beautiful dresses and the well-appointed room inform the viewer that these children are of a privileged background and have few worldly cares.

Elsley's works were widely distributed as prints and calendars and even advertisements, and Pick-a-Back was no exception: it was made into a photogravure for the Christmas 1908 issue of Illustrated London News, reissued in Weldon's Illustrated Dressmaker in 1911 (as Gee-Up), used in a Nectar Tea advertisement calendar, and produced as a postcard by Hildershiemer circa 1914. Elsley's paintings and prints were appreciated by a public hungry for images of happiness and domesticity in a time of great change for England as it entered the Industrial age and prepared for the onslaught of war.

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Baptisms
Family Tree Research
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St Marks Staff
Heads Diary
History Of St Marks
Families
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Neighbours
Registers
School Photos
Where Are They Now
Guestbook
Weddings
Home Page