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John Wilson Carmichael, 1799–1868

A View of Murton Colliery near Seaham, County Durham

Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
24 x 36 1/8 inches (61 x 91.8 cm)

Label on verso, upper center: “established 1876 | The Fine Art Society Ltd | 148 New Bond St London W1Y OJT | No. 1163 Date September 1971 | A View of the Colby Ingleton Colliery | Painted to commemorate the opening of | the colliery in 1843. | James Wilson Carmichael, 1800 - 1868”; upper right: “To be collected by Pitt & Scott | Paul Mellon, Esq. | from The Fine Art Society Ltd | 148 New Bond St London W1Y OJT | telephone 016295116”

Signed and dated, lower right: "JWCarmichael | 1843"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
buildings | coal mine | costume | factory | flags | genre subject | industrialization | industry | landscape | leisure | men | mining | pollution | rope | smoke | smokestack | stream | workers
Associated Places:
Durham | England | Europe | Murton | Seaham | United Kingdom
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Murton Colliery lay halfway between Durham and Sunderland in the northeast of England and was owned by the South Hetton Coal Company. Although shaft sinking began in February 1838, the mine did not open until April 1843, the year this celebratory picture was painted. The seam was reached with much difficulty, expense, and loss of life. In the foreground a group of conspicuously clean sinkers (laborers who dug mine pits from surface to bottom by hand) can be seen lounging and chatting by a winding, picturesque stream during a break, while the viewer is shielded from seeing their dirty and dangerous working conditions belowground. For instance, in 1842, one sinker, Michael Robson (father of Britain’s first female serial killer, Mary Ann Cotton) fell down a mine shaft at Murton Colliery while repairing a pulley wheel. His remains were reportedly delivered to his family inside a sack inscribed “Property of South Hetton Coal Company.”

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 48-49, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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