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William Arthur Toplis (1857-1942) - Fine 1877 Oil, Beside the River

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A very fine early work by the artist William Arthur Toplis (1857-1942), depicting a fisherman resting on the pebbled banks of a highland river, possibly Cumbria or Scotland. The rugged nature of the scene is set by the moving waters to the foreground, and looming atmospheric clouds.

Completed when Toplis was just twenty years of age, he has instilled a fresh quality in this traditional subject view, using textural brushwork and a layered naturalistic palette with innovative, developing form. This work appears more rugged and dramatic than his later Sark pictures, which may be more delicate, but less visceral.

Handsomely presented in a gilt and composition frame with ornate arabesque mouldings and running egg-and-dart beading. Signed and dated '1877' to the lower right corner. On canvas laid to ply wood.


In very good condition, especially for a picture of this age. Inspection under UV light reveals no restoration to the painting. Some craquelure in areas. Some minor scuffing to the corners of the frame, and a small area of restoration to the gilt moulding on the right side.


39.5 x 59.8cm (15.6" x 23.5")
Framed Size: 51.3 x 71.5cm (20.2" x 28.1")

Artist Biography

William Arthur Toplis (1857-1942) was a Sheffield born painter who attended the Sheffield School of Art. A successful artist, with work accepted by The Royal Academy, Toplis arrived in Sark for a holiday in 1883 and spent the rest of his life on the island painting the details of its rugged coastline and landscape. His first major Sark painting, The Gouliot Rocks, was accepted for the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1884. Toplis had large scale Sark paintings accepted for both the 1885 and 1887 Royal Academy exhibitions and he made sketches for many more. Subsequently, the Channel Islands formed the bulk of his subject matter and his work is in the collection of Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery. He exhibited at the RA, ROI and in Manchester.

More Information
Code kq879
Artist William Arthur Toplis (1857-1942)
Date 1877
Dimensions 39.5 x 59.8cm
Framed Yes
Medium Oil
Style Realism
Subject Landscape
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