Mural Decorations, from "Illustrated London News"

Engraver Pierre Grenier French
After Arthur Stocks British

Not on view

This genre subject focuses on a child's early art making on a whitewashed wall, caught in the act by his grandmother. The related watercolor by Arthur Stocks was shown by the Dudley Gallery Art Society in 1879, part of the Egyptian Hall on Piccadilly. Founded by Walter Severn in 1861, the Society included John Ruskin and Walter Paton as members in the 1880s.
Accompanying text in the "Illustrated London News" characterized the image as capturing the first glimmerings of artistic talent: "The water-colour drawing by Mr. G. A. Stocks, which we engrave from the exhibition at the Dudley Gallery, tells its simple story with all due simplicity. An infant genius, a future R.A. it may be, possessed with the pictorial afflatus, has appropriated the blacking-bottle and its stick, and therewith has executed a number of "figure designs" on the clean whitewash walls of the cottage; or, to speak more technically, of the intonaco, suitable enough for this kind of "mural decorations;" and is caught in the fact, red-handed, or rather black-handed, by his aged grandmother, who perhaps, suspecting from his silence that more than ordinary mischief is being perpetrated by the "enfant terrible," has surprised him unawares, and, heedless of the attempts of the youthful prodigy, will, we fear, inflict what she may consider condign punishment. For the character of the designs we make no apology; they are certainly of a primitive character, but art must have its infancy, like everything else; and ethnologists may discover resemblances between them and the designs of primaeval savages, on prehistoric mammoth tusks, or other bones of extinct animals."

Mural Decorations, from "Illustrated London News", Pierre Grenier (French, Moulins, Allier, Auvergnes active 1872–92), Wood engraving

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.