Separated, but not Divorced
Known as Charlie the Bull, this painting is the most popular of the Thomas Sidney Cooper works of art at the Beaney. It was painted between 1874 and 1882 and is one of the largest amongst the collection.
The bull in this painting is a prize Shorthorn known as Charlie, belonging to the Liverpool picture collector, Henry Blundell. Cooper had sketched Charlie some years before on a visit to Blundell’s estate.
Separated, but not Divorced contains humorous and personal references, such as the discarded pipe on the ground, still smoking, suggesting a recent man-to-bull chat. Eagle-eyed visitors will be able to make out a large crow, picking at a bone, in the bottom left of the painting which was later over-painted.
Originally exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1874, Cooper’s bull “attracted crowds of admirers” but didn’t find a buyer. Unsurprised, Cooper said “I did not think it likely…on account of its size, so I was not disappointed”. And so the painting returned to Cooper’s house, Vernon Holme, at Harbledown near Canterbury, to hang in the staircase.
Did you know? To fit into the gallery the painting’s equally huge frame had to be cut into two!