Little is known about Rainford. Just six paintings are recorded and the only one now extant is Hotspur and the Courtier, exhibited at the British Institution in 1852. He seemed partial to Shakespeare, for three of the paintings took scenes from the plays as their subjects: Cymbeline (1850), Henry IV, Part 1 (1852), and As You Like It (1853). Judging by this single remaining picture, Rainford was an early convert to the style of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Oil on canvas, approximately 39 x 53 inches. Forbes Collection, New York City.
This is another of those events we do not actually see on the stage; Hotspur reports this scene imagined by Rainford in Act I, Scene iii, of Henry IV, Part 1. Henry Percy--"Hotspur"--explains to King Henry that he sent no prisoners from the northern rebellion because he was offended by the "popingay" messenger who came and "demanded / My prisoners in your majesty's behalf":
My liege, I did deny no prisoners.
But I remember, when the fight was done,
When I was dry with rage and extreme toil,
Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword,
Came there a certain lord, neat, and trimly dress'd,
Fresh as a bridegroom; and his chin new reap'd
Show'd like a stubble-land at harvest-home;
He was perfumed like a milliner;
And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held
A pouncet-box, which ever and anon
He gave his nose and took't away again;
Who therewith angry, when it next came there,
Took it in snuff; and still he smiled and talk'd,
And as the soldiers bore dead bodies by,
He call'd them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
To bring a slovenly unhandsome corse
Betwixt the wind and his nobility.
With many holiday and lady terms
He question'd me; amongst the rest, demanded
My prisoners in your majesty's behalf.
I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold,
To be so pester'd with a popinjay,
Out of my grief and my impatience,
Answer'd neglectingly I know not what,
He should or he should not; for he made me mad
To see him shine so brisk and smell so sweet
And talk so like a waiting-gentlewoman
Of guns and drums and wounds,--God save the mark!--
And telling me the sovereign'st thing on earth
Was parmaceti for an inward bruise;
And that it was great pity, so it was,
This villanous salt-petre should be digg'd
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
Which many a good tall fellow had destroy'd
So cowardly; and but for these vile guns,
He would himself have been a soldier.