Sporting portrait of Charles and Mary Suthers
with a favourite hunter and dogs
Signed and dated 1854
Large oil painting on canvas 43 x 54.1/2 inches (110 x 138 cm)
The Suthers were Oldham Aristocracy in the early 19th Century, and Charles and his brother Spencer built the Oxford Mill which is still standing. Mary, in the picture married William Wild who ran the Oldham Evening News. Charles married into the Lees family and one of his sons., Leigh Suthers was one of the Newlyn School.
Robert Crozier was born in Blackburn in 1815, the son of George Crozier, a saddler and one of the leaders of a group of working-class amateur botanists. When Crozier was ten his family moved briefly to Bolton, before settling in Warrington in April 1826. From the age of twelve until he was twenty, Crozier was apprenticed to a coach painter called William Maskey. However, during this time Crozier also studied under John Kitchingham, a local teacher of drawing, grammar, miniature painting and botany, until Kitchingham was killed in a railway accident.
In 1836 Crozier moved to Manchester, where he remained for the rest of his life. He became a pupil of Henry Travis, before going on to study at the Manchester School of Design under John Zephania Bell in 1838. In the same year, Crozier was to marry Ellen Morgan of Liverpool; they had two daughters and a son. On leaving the School of Design, in 1845 Crozier went to study under William Bradley, and it was after this that he gained his reputation as a portrait painter. In 1851, at Bradley’s suggestion, he opened a studio in St Anne’s Street. Crozier first exhibited at the Royal Manchester Institution in 1841, and at the Royal Academy in 1854, but it was the success of the ‘Exhibition of Works of Local Artists’ at Peel Park, Salford, in 1857, that encouraged Crozier and other local artists to set up the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts in 1859. Shortly after its foundation Crozier was appointed Literary Secretary of the Academy, a position which he held until he was elected Treasurer in 1868, and from 1878 until a month before his death he was President of the Academy. His wife Ellen died in 1880. Crozier died at his home in Sydney Street, off Oxford Road in Manchester, on 7th February 1891.
The Robert Crozier collection was sold at auction in November 1995 by order of an anonymous Cheshire collector. The previous custodial history of the collection is not known. The collection was divided into seventeen lots, all but three of which (This painting is one of the 3) were purchased by the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.
Literature: Thomas Letherbrow, Robert Crozier: a memoir (Manchester: J.E. Cornish, 1891). Page 44