Rowland Wheelwright, 1870–1955
Rowland Wheelwright was a painter and illustrator. Using a diffuse pastel palette, he depicted equestrian, historical, and maritime scenes.
Born to a family of sheep farmers in 1870 in Ipswich, Australia, he emigrated with his parents to England during the Australian drought of the 1880s. The artist went on to study at St. John's Wood Art School, and the Herkomer School of Art in Bushey from 1891-93. While in school, he became acquainted with painters such as Lucy Kemp-Welch while studying under Sir Hubert von Herkomer. Wheelwright exhibited both at the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon. His principal works include 'Joan of Arc Taken Prisoner', 'The Caravan', 'Enid and Geraint' and 'Don Quixote'. In 1908 Wheelwright married Jane Elizabeth Wheelwright née Stewart.
Although Wheelwright is recorded as a painter of historical and classical subjects, his major passion seems to be that of the heavy working horse. In the period 1900-1920 he produced some outstanding large finely executed canvases of the heavy horse at work.
He was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists in 1906 and also exhibited at the RA, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, Fine Art Society, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, National Society of Painters, Sculptors & Printmakers, Paris Salon, Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Royal Hibernian Academy and Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.
In his later years he favoured paintings of bathing figures on Cornish beaches. Examples of his work are in the collections of Bushey Museum and Art Gallery, Cheltenham Art Gallery, Gallery Oldham, Harris Museum and Art Gallery Museums Sheffield and Torre Abbey Historic House and Gallery.
Books illustrated by Wheelwright include:
- The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott, illustrated by Rowland Wheelwright. Published by G. G. Harrap & Co, London, 1929.
- The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Rowland Wheelwright. Published by George G. Harrap & Co, London, 1930.
- The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, illustrated by Rowland Wheelwright. Published by G. G. Harrap & Co. London, 1920.
- ... and Wheelwright finished the illustrations for an edition of Lorna Doone when another Bushey artist, William Sewell, was sadly killed in WWI.
He lived for more than 30 years in Hertfordshire. He died in May 1955.
Sources: Bushey Museum; Artist Biographies Ltd. July 2020
Portfolio (in Bushey Museum collection)