Striking portrait comes home to Darwen

Rachel Ann Fish

Rachel Ann Fish

First published in News Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

RACHEL Ann Fish has come ‘home’ to Darwen - almost 100 years after her death.

Her striking portrait, painted at her home in Sudell Road just before the Great War by her cousin James Hargreaves Morton, has been bought by the Friends of Darwen Library and it will hang on permanent display there.

It is one of the stars of a new exhibition of Morton’s work collected by the friends group, which started yesterday and runs until mid-April.

Shortly after Morton painted the portrait he went off to fight in the First World War and was killed just a few days before it ended in 1918.

His sisters, who lived with him and Rachel, kept all the work he had left behind and the hoard was only revealed after the death of his last remaining sister, Alice, in 1967.

The painting surfaced briefly for the auction of Morton’s work in 1971 when it was bought by an East Lancashire businessman and kept at his home in the Ribble Valley.

So in almost 100 years it has been seen in public just once, until now. Rachel never married and died in 1915, aged 82.

Harold Heys, secretary of the Friends of Darwen Library, saw the painting 18 months ago when researching stories and paintings for a book on Morton’s life, which was published to wide acclaim early last year.

He said: “I thought that if ever the owner thought of selling it we should try to buy it.

“It cost us hundreds of pounds but we have been very fortunate recently with donations to our funds and its purchase wasn't a problem.”

Another example of Morton's work which researchers had long puzzled about - a large pastel known as St John’s Church and Darwen Tower which also disappeared after the auction - has also surfaced and will be in the exhibition.

It is thought to be the only time that Morton captured the Tower, built in 1898.

Mr Heys said: "Morton loved painting and drawing trees and water. The Tower must have been a bit too bleak to interest him.”

It was bought by a Darwen man at the auction and was found recently in the loft of a farm at Mellor.

Comments (5)

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6:25pm Sun 2 Feb 14

alf-abett says...

Lovely story for a change, the only criticism I would level is "When is the Exhibition taking place" can the LET please keep the readers posted.
Lovely story for a change, the only criticism I would level is "When is the Exhibition taking place" can the LET please keep the readers posted. alf-abett
  • Score: 4

6:31pm Sun 2 Feb 14

alf-abett says...

alf-abett wrote:
Lovely story for a change, the only criticism I would level is "When is the Exhibition taking place" can the LET please keep the readers posted.
Readers, please disregard my criticism above. Having read it again I see the Exhibition as already commenced also my apologies to the LET.
[quote][p][bold]alf-abett[/bold] wrote: Lovely story for a change, the only criticism I would level is "When is the Exhibition taking place" can the LET please keep the readers posted.[/p][/quote]Readers, please disregard my criticism above. Having read it again I see the Exhibition as already commenced also my apologies to the LET. alf-abett
  • Score: 2

6:49pm Sun 2 Feb 14

Angusam says...

So good to see a bit of history revived, I wonder what house on Sudell Road she lived?
So good to see a bit of history revived, I wonder what house on Sudell Road she lived? Angusam
  • Score: 2

12:41am Mon 3 Feb 14

barryinthailand says...

Angusam wrote:
So good to see a bit of history revived, I wonder what house on Sudell Road she lived?
No 12 next aunt maggie, someone in Darwen painted a picture WOW....British Museum must be worried about missing that gem.
[quote][p][bold]Angusam[/bold] wrote: So good to see a bit of history revived, I wonder what house on Sudell Road she lived?[/p][/quote]No 12 next aunt maggie, someone in Darwen painted a picture WOW....British Museum must be worried about missing that gem. barryinthailand
  • Score: -10

8:14pm Mon 3 Feb 14

happycyclist says...

Good effort, Friends of Darwen Library.
Good effort, Friends of Darwen Library. happycyclist
  • Score: 1

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