Selected Artist Biographies

Whitcombe, Thomas (1752-1824)

Thomas Whitcombe was a prolific and dedicated marine artist, regularly exhibiting at the Royal Academy between 1783 and 1824. Much travelled, Thomas Whitcombe's output became topographical as well as depicting naval battles and skirmishes, and this made him very popular with a British public hungry for knowledge of their fledgling Empire. Thomas Whitcombe was best known for producing 50 paintings to illustrate "The Naval Achievements of Great Britain", which were engraved and sold particularly well at the time. Thomas Whitcombe's work is crisp and fresh with great attention to detail, but it is Thomas Whitcombe's choice of varying subject matter that marks him out from his various contemporaries.

Thomas Whitcombe (1752-1824)

Wilkinson, Norman CBE (1878-1971)

Renowned Norman Wilikinson's exquisite marine paintings, Norman Wilkinson’s time living with his mother at Southsea looking out to the Solent was where his passion for ships and the sea, and to be an artist, was first realised. After a period spent studying at Portsmouth School of Art and under Louis Grier at St Ives, N0rman Wilkinson made several voyages in coastal colliers before settling in London to work as an illustrator.

In 1915 Norman Wilkinson got a commission in the Royal Naval Reserve and it was during his time as a commander of a patrol boat that he raised the idea of dazzle-painting ships as a tactic of confusing the aim of German gunners – a practice that was largely adopted by both the naval and merchant fleets. His interest in aeroplanes led to Wilkinson being appointed inspector of camouflage with the rank of Air Commodore when the Second Wold War broke out. In addition to his war time camoufleur work, Wilkinson was also one of the best known poster designers for shipping and railway companies.

Alongside his reputation as a marine artist, Wilkinson flourished in his career as a painter of river and fishing scenes – both in oils and watercolour. Painted with admirable accuracy these paintings record most of the notable pools and stretches of rivers in the UK.

In 1906, Norman Wilkinson was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours (RI). He was made Honorable Marine Painter to the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1919. He was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Royal Society of Marine Artists, and Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours. He was appointed a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1948.

The Tryon Gallery exhibited his work almost every alternate year between 1961 and 1974 and he has continued to be represented in both our marine and fishing exhibitions over the years.

Norman Wilkinson C.B.E., S.M.A., P.R.W.S., R.I. (1878-1971)

Wyllie, William Lionel (1851-1931)

William Lionel Wyllie was known for his paintings, drawings, watercolours and etchings of the sea and ships. He was a founder member of the Society for Nautical Research whose primary aims were the restoration of HMS Victory and thefoundation of the National Maritime Museum. He painted the Panorama of the Battle of Trafalgar in Portsmouth Dockyard which was unveiled by George V in 1930.

Wyllie made his name in the 1880s with his unconventional paintings of the River Thames and is known for his paintings of the Navy, his late work, the Panorama of the Battle of Trafalgar, his watercolours, and his dry point etchings.

Wyllie’s Thames pictures led him to be elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1889. By 1907, when he became a Royal Academician, he had moved to a house at the entrance of Portsmouth Harbour. He had largely turned to painting naval and historical subjects. Nevertheless, he continued to make prints of London and the Thames to the end of his life.

William Lionel Wyllie (1851 - 1931)

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