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The sea hath its pearls



William Henry Margetson


Dec 1861 – 02 Jan 1940

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on canvas
    132.3 cm diam. stretcher; 163.2 x 163.5 x 8.5 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Signed and dated l.l., oil "W H Margetson 1897".

    Purchased 1897
    Grand Courts
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    William Henry Margetson

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The circlet of crabs carved in low relief on the frame of this painting is integral to its success as a work of art. Echoing the seaside theme, and offering closure to an otherwise excessively open composition, the frame participates in the painting quite as constructively as the bending figure and wave-lapped beach. The cool monochrome of the location suggests an English coastal resort, though clearly Margetson had the Mediterranean in mind. His lovely fossicker is dressed to evoke the ancient classical past more than late Victorian England. Indeed, Margetson's rather dry application of pale pigment echoes Roman fresco technique. Like most of the lesser genre painters and portraitists of his day, he succumbed to the ever-virulent strain of Victorian classicism, being influenced by better-known contemporaries such as Leighton and Poynter. It goes without saying that the pearl of the title is a punning allusion to the maiden herself.

    AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 4 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 16 publications

  • Provenance

    William Henry Margetson, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from the artist 1897. Chosen for the Gallery by the Council of the Royal Academy.