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By Lorna Hogger on

George Earl: portraits of a shooting season

Two paintings found in a pub are now an important part of our art collection.

Last week I was asked to give a group talk about two paintings that are on display in Station Hall; ‘Going North, Kings Cross Station’ and ‘Coming South, Perth Station’ by George Earl. These Victorian realist works are two of the most popular paintings in our art collection.

George Earl, ‘Going North, King’s Cross Station’, 1893.


Earl was famous for his paintings of sporting events and animals, particularly dogs. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1857, and one year exhibited a massive 19 works. His most famous works belong to the series ‘Champion Dogs of England’, c.1870, reflecting his membership of the Kennel Club and his interest in the animal.

The paintings in our museum’s collection are copies made by the artist of his now lost originals. The paintings were commissioned by Sir Andrew Barclay Walker of the Walker Brewery, Liverpool – our copies (made c.20 years later) were discovered in The Vines pub, in Lime Street, Liverpool. Since the Museum acquired them in 1990 they have been cleaned and conserved, with the old discoloured varnish removed.

‘Going North, Kings Cross Station’, 1893, shows a party awaiting the 10am train to Scotland. The scene is set in the East Hall of Kings Cross Station (designed by Lewis Cubitt in 1852). The group represented are upper class passengers and their servants, pictured with all of their hunting and sporting equipment. A young girl is depicted with her Indian Ayah, a gamekeeper, grooms and footmen, and the artist himself is in there too.

Typical of Earl is the array of breeds of dog which accompany the party; in these paintings the artist marries his trademark sporting subject with the modern theme of the railway station.

George Earl, ‘Coming South, Perth Station’, 1895.

The second painting shows the same party on their return journey from Perth with their skins, fish, grouse, blackcock and even antlers. It’s possible to pick out the same characters (and dogs) in both paintings. In the 19th century this journey would have taken Earl’s travellers around 12 hours, leaving Perth at 1550 on the overnight sleeper train and arriving in to Kings Cross at 0350; the current journey is much faster at around 8.5 hours.

6 comments on “George Earl: portraits of a shooting season

  1. Spotted these two Paintings and said to my wife I bet they are by George Earle they do not have his name on that is a pity, he was a very underated artist in my opinion, but then I have weakness for dogs and shooting.I have a copy of gun dog trial it is of Bala in Wales but there was no such club all the characters are Victorian sportsmen: there is no shadow of this painting.

    1. Hello Raymond
      My name is Glen Bishop and I have an original print of the field trial meeting at Bala by George Earl and is also signed by George Earl.
      on this painting are Elias Bishop Senior his sons Elias, James Charles and Edwin Bishop and their dogs. I inherited this from my Grandfather Arch Bishop who also had kennels of pointers and setters and also secretary of the English setter club. I believe that the original painting hangs in the Kennel Club in London

  2. The painting of the Bala meet does not hang in the Kennel Club, however in the Kennel Clubs collection they do have one of the multi portraits from the Champion Dogs of England series and in the Kennel Clubs Arts Foundations collections we hold several portraits of Pointers (including Ch Bang) by Gerorge Earl. His Daughter Maud Earl was the more accomplished artist and both of our collections hold many of her works. It was interesting to hear that the two held by the NRM were not the originals but duplicates made at the same time (a common thing for artists to do) It would be great to know more of the paintings you have and I would love to be able to do a article for Kennel Clubs magazine, the Kennel Gazette. I am a Member of the Kennel Club and also a Trustee of the Kennel Club Arts Foundation (a charity set up for the promotion, education and protection of canine art and literature and to form collection of important canine works)

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