James Pollard

Fly Fishing in the River Lee near the Ferry Boat Inn


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James Pollard 1792–1867
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 356 × 446 mm
frame: 465 × 552 × 70 mm
Bequeathed by Mrs F. Ambrose Clark through the British Sporting Art Trust 1982

Display caption

Pollard was himself a keen angler and painted several small pictures on the theme. This charming scene forms a pair with 'Trolling for Pike in the River Lee', also in the Tate collection. The locations for many of these fishing subjects were on the outskirts of London; this view shows the Ferry Boat Inn at Lea Bridge near Clapton, which still stands today.
The improvements in tackle and the stocking of rivers and ponds had enabled fishing to become a popular recreation amongst the middle classes during the early nineteenth century. However, it was a subject only occasionally portrayed by artists, for the vast majority of patrons demanded equestrian sporting scenes.

Gallery label, April 1995

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Catalogue entry


Oil on canvas 14 × 17 9/16 (356 × 446)
Inscribed ‘J. Pollard 1831’ b.l.
Bequeathed by Mrs F. Ambrose Clark from the collection of the late F. Ambrose Clark through the British Sporting Art Trust 1982
Prov: ...; Arthur N. Gilbey, sold by his executors Christie's 25 April 1940 (110, as ‘Fly Fishing at Tottenham Mills’) bt C. Dunlop, New York; F. Ambrose Clark after 1958; his widow Mrs F. Ambrose Clark
Exh: Loan Exhibition of Sporting Paintings, Viscount Allendale's, 144 Piccadilly, 1931 (75); Tate Gallery, March–September 1984, with other paintings from Mrs F. Ambrose Clark's Bequest (no catalogue); Paintings exhibited by the British Sporting Art Trust, Vestey Gallery, National Horseracing Museum, Newmarket, April–December 1986 (unnumbered, repr.)
Engr: Aquatint by G. Hunt, ‘Fly Fishing’, pair to ‘Trolling for Pike’, pub. J. Moore 1831 (Selway 1972, p.58, no.813)
Lit: Sir Walter Gilbey, Animal Painters, II, 1900, p.101, repr. facing p.102; Walter Shaw Sparrow, Angling in British Art, 1923, p.103; N.C. Selway, The Golden Age of Coaching and Sport, 1972, p.41, no.356

Pair to T03437 (q.v.). Nine other angling paintings by Pollard were included in the sale of Arthur N. Gilbey's collection of angling pictures in 1940. Angling was Pollard's own favourite recreation, and his angling scenes, usually involving only a day's excursion from the centre of London, have the lively and informal air of personal enjoyment. Here the background is the Ferry Boat Inn, which still stands; the bridge on the left is the Ferry Bridge which carried Ferry Lane across the River Lee to Tottenham Mills. T03436 was formerly known as ‘Fly Fishing at Tottenham Mills’, but those mills, out of sight here, stood on a mill stream some way to the west. In Pollard's day, this area was within the county of Essex; since 1965 it has been part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. (We are grateful to Mr I.G. Murray, Archivist of the Bruce Castle Museum, London N.17, for establishing the location of this scene.)

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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