Edward Thompson Davis was a brilliant draughtsman, who painted childhood subjects and scenes of everyday rural life, particularly views and subjects from the local villages of Worcestershire. The present work is inscribed Northwick/near Worcester
on an old label on the reverse; the address where Davis was born and lived. Reminiscent of the great Flemish Masters David Teniers and Adriaen Brouwer, Davis captures a moment when an exhausted young traveller sits on a wooden chair within a simple virtually empty interior, symbolising the young man's minimal belongings and low worth. He rests his hands and chin on a freshly snapped branch heightening the viewers empathy that he has travelled a long and difficult journey. His boots are worn and falling apart, his laces manage to pull only a few holes together and his ragged, damaged clothes are all he has for cover and warmth. A small red parcel sits closely by his side, representing all that he owns.A Weary Wanderer
is an example of heart-felt social observation by Davis. It is likely this boy has been forced out of home to find work in the rural countryside in an ever-increasing industrial nation where families and their children flocked to the cities, often resulting in cheap employment under the roofs of the great Victorian workhouses. Davis implements the white ground that was used by the Pre-Raphaelites; highlighting the colour pigments and glazes in his works. His meticulous, painstakingly detailed work illustrates the influence the Pre-Raphaelite movement had with so many followers, reaching well beyond London and the other great cities into rural Britain.
Apart from visiting Holland and a short stay in London in 1856, Davis did not travel extensively. However, in 1866 he went to Rome where he caught a short illness and died there on 12 June 1867. During his artistic career, he exhibited nineteen works at the Royal Academy and sixteen pictures at the British Institution. As with Walter Howell Deverell, who painted the great early Pre-Raphaelite painting Twelfth Night and tragically died from Bright's disease at the age of twenty-seven, one wonders what fabulous works these two highly gifted artists would have painted if they had lived longer.