A lovely pair of racing pigeon oils on board portraits by
Both are in extremely good condition, the colours bright and vibrant, having been under glass their whole life (now removed), and hence protected from the air and smoke pollution in this country during the first half of the 20th century.
Owned by Messrs Traverse Bros, the pigeons "Burtonwood Beauty" and "Burtonwood Doubleduck" are shown with hand painted inscriptions, painted on the lower edge of the slip of each portrait, detailing their wins.
Biographical information on A Embleton is not easy to find. However all of the pigeon portraits I have seen have been around this date, all standing in profile on a red brick wall, and several with a building with chimney (sometimes smoking) behind. One can therefore surmise that he was a north country painter, active in the first years of the 20th century.
The Burtonwood Pigeon Society still exists, and whilst probably a small town/village in 1910, now is classified as Greater Manchester, located near Warrington, on the Cheshire/Lancashire border.
British Folk Art School early 20th century.
Framed in in a moulded dark frame with original gilt slip with inscriptions.
Sight: 10.5" x 14" (27cm x 36cm)
Frame: 17.25" x 20.75” ( 44cm x 53cm)
For those interested in the background to the racing pigeon world, a very interesting article can be found on the internet entitled:
PIGEON RACING AND WORKING-CLASS CULTURE IN BRITAIN, c. 1870–1950, by Martin Johnes
History Department, Swansea University
Pigeon racing was immensely popular amongst male industrial workers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This article offers an overview of the history of pigeon racing in this period before moving on to explore the sport’s multiple meanings for those who took part.
Pigeon racing offered not only the thrills and excitement of racing but also the more sedate and intellectual rewards of breeding and rearing the birds. The pigeon loft was a masculine enclave and a retreat from the pressures of domestic life for some, although for others it was an opportunity to share time with their family.
As such, pigeon racing demonstrates the complexities of working- class masculinity. Pigeon keeping was also expensive, time consuming and required space. The article thus concludes by arguing that despite the agency workers were able to exercise over their leisure, they were still restricted by wider material constraints."