Art in Focus

Still Waters Run Deep was painted by Edward Henry Fahey in 1877.

This scene of a man and woman in a peaceful landscape is set in Albury Park, Surrey, the ancestral seat of the Duke of Northumberland. It is a companion to the painting ‘He Never Came’, which is in a private collection. The title could refer to the pool or to human nature, where a calm exterior can conceal a greater depth of personality.

The painting was purchased with the assistance of the Langworthy Bequest in 1877 and now hangs in the Victorian Gallery at Salford Museum and Art Gallery.


Exploring the Painting

Have a good look at this painting and think about the following questions:

  • Do you think the couple look happy or sad?
  • What time of day do you think it is?
  • Why might they be meeting at this time?
  • What kind of water is in the painting? Is it calm or choppy?
  • What kinds of animals can you see?
  • What do you think the title ‘Still Waters Run Deep means?
  • What is different about the couple’s outfits to things we might wear today?
  • What period of time was the painting made in?
  • How was life different in that time?


The colour palette chosen for this painting is rather subdued and it looks like the artist has only used a handful of colours which really adds to the mood of the painting – isn’t that impressive! Why don’t you pick four colours and try your own lake scene. It could include the following:

  • Water
  • A lake
  • Birds
  • Swans
  • Trees
  • Pond lilies
  • People
  • Buildings

Creative Writing: Dialogue

Write a page of dialogue between the couple in the painting. Think about the following:

  • What is their relationship to one another?
  • Why have they chosen to meet in this setting?
  • Why have they chosen to meet at this time of day?
  • Would it be normal for men and women to meet alone in this time period?
  • Is their conversation light, like talk of hobbies for example, or deep, like talk of emotions

Creative Writing: Diaries

The painting was made with a companion piece entitled ‘He Never Came’, pictured here. With this in mind, now write a diary entry from the lady in the painting that spans the entire day that the two were clearly meant to meet as if she had written it in the evening of that day. Think about the following:

  • What time did she wake up?
  • Does she live alone?
  • Was she nervous?
  • What did she eat/drink?
  • Did she tell anybody where she was going?
  • When did she set off to meet the man?
  • How long did she wait for him?
  • How did she feel?
  • Did she see anybody else while she was there?
  • What did she do when she realised he wasn’t coming?