Blandford Fletcher | England 1858–1936 | Evicted 1887 | Oil on canvas | 123.1 x 185.3cm | Purchased 1896 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Oil on canvas
123.1 x 185.3cm
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Blandford Fletcher was a member of the Newlyn school, based in south-western England. His works typified the narrative style of painting in the age of Queen Victoria. Paintings played a role in the moral, historical and social education of the mainly middle-class population who viewed them.
Meticulous, photograph-like detail was highly valued by Victorian viewers. Details such as facial expressions, small symbolic objects, flowers, clothes, colours, moods and seasons were all open to interpretation and read like clues to a puzzle.
Evicted 1887 presents the narrative of a dispossessed widow and her child, forced to leave their home while the top-hatted bailiff and the village look on. Fletcher's choice of an overcast autumn day heightens the sense of loss and sadness. The leaves littering the ground and the child's broken toy add to the drama.
One of the consequences of industrialisation in England during the nineteenth century was the increased level of poverty and hardship faced by families through bereavement, unemployment, sickness or marital break-up. Some artists chose to portray the plight of the poor, but often disguised the bleakness of the event under a veil of sentiment which appealed to, but did not offend, middle-class viewers and buyers. Many such paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibitions and were very popular.