Mary Ellen Edwards – A Victorian Woman Illustrator

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Mary Ellen Edwards (later Mrs Freer, later Mrs Staples) by Unknown photographer, albumen carte-de-visite with black masking paint, 1860s, © National Portrait Gallery, London

Illustrator Mary Ellen Edwards was born to Mary (née Johnson, c.1809-1898) and Downes Edwards (c. 1805-1882) on the 6th November 1838 on her father’s farm in Surbiton just outside London. The family had nine children of which two died in infancy. The Edwards moved frequently. Her father was an engineer and inventor and had by 1848 enough funds to built a family residence, Ravenscliffe in Douglas on the Isle of Man. Eventually they settled in London and lived there at various addresses in fashionable parts of town such as Pimlico, South Kensington and Chelsea.

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Joseph Wolf – “The best all-round animal painter that ever lived.”

Joseph Wolf, Lance Chalkin, 1890, the Zoological Society of London (Source: Wikipedia)
Joseph Wolf, Lance Chalkin, 1890, the Zoological Society of London (Source: Wikipedia)

Joseph (Mathias) Wolf was born on the 22nd January 1820 in the little village of Mörz, near Koblenz, Germany. His father, Anton Wolf (1788-1859) was a farmer and headman of the village. As a boy, Wolf loved spending time outdoors, observing and sketching the local wildlife. Sometimes, he would shoot specimens to dissect them at home in order to achieve a better understanding of their anatomy, plumage or fur. He would also capture live birds and mammals to draw them. He built special traps to catch large birds of prey without harming them. His obsession, apparently, earned him the unflattering nickname ‘bird fool’ from his father. Watching wildlife became a lifelong passion and, although he killed some for study, he abhorred the mindless slaughter of animals that many Victorians regarded as a ‘manly’ pastime and sport. According to his biographer and friend Alfred Herbert Palmer (1853-1931), son of artist Samuel Palmer (1805-81), Wolf accused these ‘sportsmen’ of having “no desire to know about a thing. Their only desire is to kill it.” He also called man “the most destructive and carnivorous animal in the world.”

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Karen’s Cabinet of Curiosities May 2017

DSC06587Curiosity: Tiger head and forepaws in glass case

Date: 1903 (shot)

Origin: Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India

Maker: J. Hutchings, Naturalist and Gunmaker, Aberystwyth

Measurements (case): 71x41x79cm

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‘Richard Doyle’s Bird’s-Eye Views of Society’

This link leads to the Karen Westendorf’s website about the 19th century illustrator Richard Doyle. It is the result of her MA research project back in 2015. The School of Art holds a series of his illustrations, designed for The Cornhill Magazine in 1861/2. (They are not the original drawings but the printed foldouts as they appeared in the magazine.)

Richard Doyle’s Bird’s-Eye View of Society

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At Home (example of Richard Doyle’s Bird’s-Eye Views of Society)  

John Elwyn:’A Quiet Sincerity’ now on until 17th February

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28 November 2016 – 17 February 2017

John Elwyn was born one hundred years ago in Adpar, south Ceredigion where his father ran a woollen mill on the banks of the river Teifi. This exhibition, curated by the artist’s friend and biographer Professor Robert Meyrick, commemorates the centenary of the birth of one of Wales’ most distinguished artists whose paintings have contributed significantly to the British landscape tradition.

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Work by eminent 19th century Welsh sculptor rediscovered

A missing marble bust by eminent Welsh sculptor Joseph Edwards (1814-1882) has been rediscovered in an under-stairs cupboard in the Old College at Aberystwyth University.

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