John Robertson Reid. 1851-1926
The Sale of Old Dobbin. Oil over a printed base, 1906
This painting tells the story of an event that happened in 1874 when a farmer worker, William Bromley, was evicted from his farm at Yalding in Kent and forced to sell off all his belongings, including his faithful old horse Dobbin.
William Bromley is seated front left, looking crestfallen. He has his hat in his hands and his dog sits by his knee. The young girl next to him, weeping quietly into a handkerchief, is his eldest daughter Emma, who was ten at the time. A few months later the family emigrated to New Zealand.
This information only came to light in 1998 when William Bromley's great great grandson, Jack Sauvarin, turned up at Dudley Museum and Art Gallery, on a visit from New Zealand, to see the painting. Before then the picture was thought to be a generalised depiction of rural poverty in Victorian England and not based on an actual historical episode.