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Hango Hill, Castletown

Date made: c.1830

Artist: Strutt, James

Description: Hango Hill, Castletown painted by landscape artist James Strutt c.1830. The art work provides a glimpse into life in Castletown in the early 19th century - with fisherman at work hauling their nets in the foreground, and the development of the town in the background. Strutt’s depiction of Hango Hill ensures that the observers’ eye is drawn to ruinous building sitting a top the hill due to the areas of shading and brighter colours contrasting that of the light, hazy sea, and sky.

Hango Hill was used as a place of execution until at least the 17th century, and famously was where William Christian (Illiam Dhone) was executed by firing squad in 1663. The ruined buildings are thought to be the remains of a late 17th century summerhouse, built on the summit by the Earls of Derby. The erection of this building would appear to imply that the site ceased to be used as a place of execution. Certainly by the 19th century, executions were being carried out at nearby Castle Rushen.

James Strutt (1809-1835) was a talented landscape painter who died tragically young. He was highly regarded in his own lifetime, and might have gone on to become one of the leading artists of the 19th century had he lived.

Little is known about his background or how he came to reside on the Isle of Man, but it is believed he was born in America, possibly Philadelphia. His surviving artworks all feature Manx scenes, and he certainly lived and exhibited here as an adult.

His art was highly regarded on the Isle of Man, and Sir William Hillary was a patron and supporter of his work. In 1833 there was a major exhibition of his work at Hillary’s home in Douglas. At this exhibition all of his paintings were sold, which funded his return to America on the grounds of ill health. The Manx newspapers at the time reported on the exhibition stating “The Island never had, and probably, will never again, enjoy the advantage of such an artist, and one who has supplied so many beautiful pictures of her towns, her sea views, and castellated remains. Every family, who possess any taste for the fine arts, should take advantage of this sale”. Manx Sun, 2 July 1833.

Strutt did move back to Philadelphia in 1833, but must have returned to the Isle of Man shortly after. It is recorded that he died to the Isle of Man on 18 December 1835, in a property on James Street in Douglas.

Measurements: overall: 33 cm x 46 cm

Materials: oil on canvas

Object name: painting

Collection: Art Collection

ID number: 1954-1704

Subject tags : #artgalleryplace


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