(b Liverpool, 11 May 1815; d Farnborough, Hants, 20 April 1885).
English painter. He was the son of an artisan and in 1835 entered
the Liverpool Academy Schools, where he later became president
(1845–6). One of his earliest and largest dated works is the
Waterloo Coursing Meeting (1.4*2.4 m, 1840; Liverpool, Walker A.G.).
This canvas demonstrates his considerable skill as a portrait
painter and creates a detailed record of a major sporting event of
the period which was attended by many members of the local
aristocracy, some of whom, notably the 3rd Earl of Sefton, were his
patrons. It was engraved and published in 1843, and other works were
similarly popularized. Shooting Party in the Highlands (1840;
Liverpool, Walker A.G.) was the first of 149 works exhibited at the
Royal Academy. It shows huntsmen with their horses and dogs resting
after a good day’s sport, a theme that Ansdell often depicted. He
also portrayed other rural scenes such as gamekeepers or shepherds
with domestic and wild animals, often in historical settings. All
are painted with precision and sensitivity and without
sentimentality. Although based in London from 1847 until 1884,
Ansdell owned houses in Lancashire and Scotland and found
inspiration in northern landscape. He travelled to Spain with the
painter John Phillip in 1856 and alone in 1857 and produced several
works of Spanish inspiration, for example Feeding Goats in the
Alhambra (Preston, Harris Mus. & A.G.). He also collaborated with
William Powell Frith and Thomas Creswick in rural genre scenes.
Ansdell was commercially successful and was elected ARA in 1861 and
RA in 1870. His animal subjects often rival those of Landseer, both
in execution and composition, and place him in the forefront of
Victorian sporting art. The contents of Ansdell’s studio were sold
at Christie’s, London, 19 March 1886.