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Oil painting - Almsgiving
  • Almsgiving
    Charles West Cope, born 1811 - died 1890
  • Enlarge image


  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain, uk (painted)

  • Date:

    1839 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Charles West Cope, born 1811 - died 1890 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on panel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 315, case 19, shelf L

Physical description

Oil painting

Place of Origin

Great Britain, uk (painted)


1839 (painted)


Charles West Cope, born 1811 - died 1890 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on panel

Marks and inscriptions

'C W Cope/1839'


Height: 69.9 cm estimate, Width: 45.7 cm estimate, Height: 92 cm frame dimensions, Width: 69 cm frame dimensions

Object history note

Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

Descriptive line

Oil painting entitled 'Almsgiving' by Charles West Cope. Great Britain, 1839.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Parkinson, R., Victoria and Albert Museum, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, London: HMSO, 1990, p. 48
The following is the full text of the entry:
"COPE, Charles West, RA (1811-1890)

Born Leeds, Yorkshire, 28 July 1811, son of Charles Cope, a landscape watercolourist and friend of the collector John Sheepshanks. Briefly at school in London, then Leeds Grammar School. Returned to London 1827 to study at Sass's art school and 1828 at RA Schools. Travelled to Paris 1832 and Italy 1833-5. Exhibited 134 works at the RA between 1833 and 1882, 14 at the BI 1836--43, and one at the SBA 1837. Nearly all his paintings were literary, biblical or historical subjects and domestic genre; the fact that he was Roman Catholic may explain his choice of many of the subjects. Founder member of the Etching Club in about 1840. Awarded one of the three first prizes in the 1843 competition for the new Palace of Westminster decorations with 'An Early Trial by Jury'; travelled again to Italy to study fresco painting before painting several frescos at Westminster. Elected ARA 1843, RA 1848; appointed Professor of Painting at the RA 1867, and examiner in painting for the South Kensington Schools of Art 1870. Visited America and Canada 1876. Died Bournemouth, Hampshire, 21 August 1890.

LIT: Art Journal 1869, ppl77-9; CH Cope Reminiscences of Charles West Cope RA 1891 (referred to below as Reminiscences)

FA57 Neg HF3976
Panel, 69.9 x 45.7 cm (27½ x 18 ins)
Signed and dated 'C W Cope/1839' on bottom step br
Sheepshanks Gift 1857

Painted for John Sheepshanks, and exhibited at the RA in 1840 with the following quotation appended to the title in the catalogue: 'Reject not the affliction of the afflicted, neither turn away thy face from a poor man'. No source for the quotation is given, but it may be an adaptation from the Apocrypha, Book of Ecclesiasticus Chapter 4 verse 5: 'Turn not away thine eyes from the needy, and give him none occasion to curse thee'.

It is a pendant with 'Beneficence' (FA56, p47). The Athenaeum critic commented:

Stothard might have designed that delicate white-robed figure, with one babe in her arms, and another creeping close at her side ... The old head behind her is beautiful in its contrast - more than beautiful, even pleasing ... More than one technical defect might be charged upon this picture; but the feeling displayed in it must soften and elevate those who look on it; and in as much effect is wrought on the gazer, the artist's work is a good one, and his spirit worthy of all praise. The simple and holy affections are too rarely touched - how much more rarely expressed - by our painters!

The head of the woman giving alms and the pose of the male beggar may have been adapted from Raphael's famous cartoon for the Sistine tapestry, 'The Healing of the Lame Man at the Gates of the Temple', then in the Royal Collection (since 1865 on loan to the V&A).
EXH: RA 1840 (204); Artist at Work Hampstead Arts Centre 1966 (47)

LIT: Athenaeum 16 May 1840, p401; Reminiscences p377"


Oil paint; Panel


Oil painting

Subjects depicted




Collection code


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