Frederick Daniel Hardy

'A Crash'
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‘A Crash’
Signed & dated 1860
Oil on canvas 21″ x 28″

Frederick Daniel Hardy
British 1826-1911

A Crash, painted in 1860 and exhibited at the Royal Academy that year, by the Cranbrook School artist Frederick Daniel Hardy, is a superb work by this wonderful artist. His beautifully executed painting captures a moment in time, as the family cat, startled by the noise of his handiwork flees the scene, leaving the three children hiding behind the door – fearing the wrath of the adults. The hapless cat has probably tugged at the scarlet tablecloth, unaware that his playful action will overturn the table, sending the crockery crashing to the floor. The resulting wreck of broken china is cleverly illuminated from the light streaming in from the bedroom window, to highlight the unfortunate outcome.

This narrative painting, typical of its genre, also serves as a historical tableau of life in a country house in mid-nineteenth century England. The oak-beamed house is a comfortable one, there are three floors to the home, with separate living and sleeping accommodation, the windows are glazed and the roof tiled. The children are well dressed and the family is educated – there are books, and a feathered quill and inkpot sit on the windowsill. Afternoon tea is served on a tray, tea is poured from a silver teapot into china cups and the table is laid with a tablecloth. This household employs a maid, who after rushing upstairs to investigate the source of the commotion, looks with startled eyes though the railings. We can only guess at the likely outcome, with the frightened children hiding behind the wooden door, no doubt fearful of being held responsible, as the old lady emerges from upstairs to investigate the furore.

Frederick Daniel Hardy was born in Windsor in 1827, one of six children of George Hardy, a musician to George IV, and Queen Victoria in the Royal household at Windsor. Frederick followed his father in studying music at the Academy of Music, Hanover Square, but after studying there for three years, he abandoned music for art and became an established artist, like his eldest brother George Hardy.

After is marriage in 1852, Frederick and his wife lived near Amersham, before settling in Cranbook in Kent. Frederick Daniel Hardy established the Cranbrook Colony of Artists there and was joined after three years by his mentor, Thomas Webster. They were inspired by seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painters and have been referred to as ‘genre’ painters, as they tended to paint scenes of everyday life that they saw around them in the rural areas of Kent, typically scenes of domestic life; cooking and washing, children playing and other family activities. The group evolved in a rather loose and informal manner, but other artists soon joined Hardy and Webster. These artists and their families formed strong bonds and were active in their local community, playing a philanthropic role in Cranbrook.

Highly successful during his lifetime, Frederick Daniel Hardy exhibited ninety-three pictures at the Royal Academy from 1851 to 1898 and five at the British Institution between 1851 and 1856. He died in Cranbrook in 1911 and buried beside his wife in St. Dunstan’s churchyard. He left his estate to his daughter Amelia Gertrude Hardy, also an artist who lived and painted in Cranbrook into the 1830s.

© Sutcliffe Galleries 2015


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