Edward Ladell

(1821 - 1886)

Still-life painter from Colchester, Essex. Ladell was a self taught artist who became recognised for his faithful depictions of the arranged fruit and objects in his still-life paintings. Ladell's paintings are always easily recognisable as he used to use the same articles over and over again - a wine glass, fruit, flowers, and sometimes a bird's nest, a casket, or carved mug and other objects, on a marble ledge draped with an oriental rug. His work was much sought after and they often ensured flattering notices from the leading representative journals. His wife, Ellen Ladell, also painted in a style almost identical to her husband's. She usually signed with her full name, whereas Edward used the EL monogram back-to-back. Ladell was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy between 1856-86, as well as the British Institute and Suffolk Street. Works are held by Reading Art Gallery and Sheffield Art Gallery.

Edward Ladell’s obituary in The Essex County Standard considered him ‘the foremost man of his day in fruit painting.’ He was entirely self-taught, having initially followed the profession of his father, Christmas Ladell, as a coachbuilder. A native of Colchester, he moved to Torquay and later to Exeter where he took a studio at 20 Queen’s Street. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1856 and 1886, and also at the British Institute, the Royal Society of British Artists, Suffolk Street and local West Country venues. Ladell became immensely successful and the finest English still life painter of his generation.

Ladell specialised in still lifes composed of fruit, flowers and a variety of objects including glass, tankards, china vases and bird’s nests. His technique achieved an astonishing degree of realism. His biographer Frank Lewis writes: ‘he paints with the fidelity of an old Dutchman and with the brilliancy of colour all of his own. A dead duck lying upon a board, as represented by Mr. Ladell, is a duck indeed...maybe it’s a branch from a raspberry bush laid carefully down, and while the fruit is round and luscious, over-ripe or scarcely ripe, the leaves whether fresh or fading, are represented with a verisimilitude that is marvellous.’

His wife, Ellen Maria Ladell, neé Levitt, whom he married in 1878, was also a painter and worked from 1856 to 1898. Ladell's work is represented in the Bristol City Art Gallery, the Colchester and Essex Museum, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Essex, the Harrogate City Art Gallery, the Reading City Art Gallery and the Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield.

Edward Ladell was born in Hasketon, Suffolk about 1820 to Christmas Ladell and wife Mary Christmas Ladell was born in Crostwick, Norfolk in about 1792; for most of his life he was a coachbuilder running his own business. Mary, Edward's mother was born around 1796 in Burgh, Suffolk, just down the road from Hasketon. In 1841 all three are recorded as residing in the St.JAMES district of Colchester, Essex. Between 1841 and 1851, Edward married Juliana of Colchester, they were residing at East Hill, Colchester, and also listed in the houshold was a servant, Matilda Pudney. His occupation was listed at this time as Engraver. In 1861, Edward's occupation is recorded as Artist, Oil Painting, and residing at 15 East Hill, Colchester and they had a baby girl, Kate. Elizabeth, born the previous year and a new servant, Phoebe Canham. By 1871, only Edward is listed at East Hill. He had another servant, Lydia Page, and his occupation Artist. In the 1881, census for Devon, Edward was with his new wife Ellen Maria Levett, and and new son Kenwyn, aged 2, plus his servant Lydia Page and a nurse, Maria Chambers.

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