U3A Shipley Store Tours: 'The Escape' by William Bromley

​The local U3A group has kindly given us the scripts from some of their store tours, to help our visitors enjoy our collections from home.​

William Bromley (1769-1842), ‘The Escape’, oil on canvas, c19 century

William Bromley was an engraver and artist, apprenticed to an engraver named Wooding in London. He began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1786 and at the Society of Artists in 1790. He was employed to engrave several paintings commemorating the Napoleonic wars, including A.W. Devis's ‘Death of Nelson’ (1812) and Thomas Lawrence's portrait of the Duke of Wellington (1818). In 1822, Bromley began exhibiting engravings of the Elgin marbles. These were made for the trustees of the British Museum. He continued to exhibit these engravings nearly every year until 1835. Bromley was the first of a large family of engravers, including his sons John Charles and James Bromley.

The mood of this painting, 'The Escape' is captured by the muted use of a range of colour which creates and eerie but treacherous early morning scene. The pastel colours of the sky and lake contrast with the darker colours of the beautiful mountains surrounding the lake as well as the figures within the boat. It is a beautiful scene, which is marred by the events taking place on the Lake. 

Within the boat are apparently two women huddled in their cloaks at the back of the boat. They are heavily guarded by a well-dressed gentleman who may be a soldier guarding the women with a rifle at the ready. There are four oarsmen sailing the ship as fast as they can. All passengers are looking to their pursuers who seem to gaining fast. The artist creates tension and fear in this painting. Little information is available regarding the subject of this painting. However, perhaps it is the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who was said to be disguised as a woman.

Also known as 'the Young Pretender', Princes Charles Edward Stuart was the grandson of the deposed Catholic King James VII of Scotland and II of England. He and his followers believed the throne of Great Britain rightfully belonged to the House of Stuart, and led the campaign, known as the Jacobite Risings of 1745, to overthrow King George II. Although the handsome prince and his troops experienced some successes in battle against the Hanoverian forces, Charles was eventually halted at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 by the Duke of Cumberland and the Red Coats; the bloody clash was to be the last major battle ever fought on the British soil. The tale of the Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape is now legendary. On the run from his Hanoverian enemies, he desperately sought a ship in which to escape from Scotland. In the process, he and a few companions secretly trekked for five hundred miles over remote mountainous areas of the Western Isles and the North-West Highlands of Scotland. Eventually, he was rescued by friends, and taken to France.

Support us

As a charity we rely on donations and our closure, whilst necessary, has significantly impacted our income. If you are able, please help us through this difficult period by donating online or via text. Text TWAM 3 to give £3, TWAM 5 to give £5 or TWAM 10 to give £10 to 70085. Texts cost your donation plus one standard message rate. Thank you from everyone at the Shipley Art Gallery.