May-day painted and exhibited at the British
Institution in 1812. Sold for 150 guineas (£157.50) to the Reverend Sir S
C Jervoise, who owned land in West Bromwich near Birmingham.. It is
currently in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, a
gift of Jean M Harford..
Wilkie Collins says little about May-day in his biography of his father.
It was he says "considered to display the same steady progression towards
excellence as those which had preceded" and he quotes this contemporary
review:- "Mr Collins has attained to a very high degree of success in this
picture. The characters are various and natural, and of all ages. The groups are
well distributed, and employed in a combined purpose, so that each several
assists the humour and action of the whole. There is great mellowness and
richness in the humour of the several faces, particularly in the countenance of
the drunken chimney-sweeper. Upon the whole, this piece has more imagination and
shows greater knowledge of life, than the 'Weary Trumpeter,' by the same
May Day celebrations were often boisterous and chimney sweeps traditionally
dressed up and danced through the streets demanding money. The picture also
shows a young woman with a May Doll, covered by a cloth, and demanding a penny
to see it.
All material on these pages is © Paul Lewis 1996-2002