This 1894 watercolour shows a group of three children playing a game of ‘battledore and shuttlecock’ in a rural setting. Battledore and shuttlecock was played without a net and without any boundary lines of a court and was played with rackets, battledores and even wooden paddles.
The battledore bats, that these children are holding, would have had fine leather covered shafts below their almost circular heads. Instead of having strings the heads are covered in vellum. The shuttlecock would almost certainly have been made of chicken feathers pushed into cork and would have been twice the weight of the ones that we know of today. The present day game of badminton developed from this much older game.
Little is know about Henry Travis however it is known that he spent most of his life in and around Liverpool.
He was placed in charge of the Liverpool Annual Exhibition in 1832 as part of his role as the secretary to the Liverpool Academy.
He was also a successful artist in his own right and his most well-know artwork is ‘Recollections of the Blue-Coat Hospital, Liverpool, St George’s Day, 1843’. The Bluecoat is the oldest building in central Liverpool. The oil painting shows the school band leading through the gates, watched by teachers, school governors and the public. The work still hangs in the boardroom at the Liverpool Blue Coat School.
Travis was also active as an art teacher and the artist Robert Crozier was his pupil in Liverpool between 1836 and 1838.