George John Pinwell RWS Victorian painter Illustrator

 George John Pinwell RWS (London 26 December 1842 - 8 September 1875 London), was a British illustrator and watercolourist.

Pinwell was born on 26 December 1842 at 12 Great Mays Buildings, London. He was baptised on 27 July 1845, at St. Mark's, Surbiton, south-west London, along with his younger brother Henry (born c. 1845).

His parents were John Pinwell, a carpenter or builder, and his wife, Mary Ann Baker.
Pinwell's father was thought to have been involved in building the original Surbiton railway station in south-west London.
His mother was "a rough, illiterate woman", and "a rough and determined person".



Pinwell's father dies in 1854, leaving the family in very straightened circumstances.
He apparently worked as a butterman's boy in the City Road, London whose work, among other things was to stand outside the shop on Saturday nights shouting "Buy| Buy| Buy!"
He then worked making designs for a firm of embroiderers. In the 1861 census he recorded his occupation as "designer of Embroidery".
His two younger brothers Henry (born c. 1845) and Alfred (born c. 1847), both had their occupation listed as house carpenter.
His work on embroidery design led to him meeting his future wife Isabella Marcy Stevens (c. 1843 – first quarter of 1923) who needed a design for a difficult piece of work.


The acquaintanceship grew into affection, and eventually to marriage.
The couple were married at St. Marylebone in London on 24 April 1865. The 1911 census shows that the marriage was without issue.
While working at the embroiderers Pinwell attended night school at St. Martin's Lane Academy.

After his mother's remarriage in 1861 removed the need for him to work, he became a full time pupil at the Academy, and in 1862 he moved on to Heatherley's Academy.
In the following year he was drawing on wood blocks for the Dalziel Brothers.

The 1871 census shows his profession as an artist in watercolours, residing at 52 Adeliaid Road in Hampstead.
In 1874 Pinwell fell seriously ill and went to North Africa for the winter and spent eight months there. He returned to London in the spring of 1875.
He died of consumption on 8 September 1875 at 86 Adelaide Road, Haverstock, South Hampstead, London.

His estate was valued at less than £800 and his wife was the executrix.
He was buried on 11 September 1875 on the western side of Highgate Cemetery. His two brothers, and two brothers-in-law, Alfred and Thomas Stevens, attended the funeral. His grave has no headstone or visible memorial.
His professional friends came together after his death to raise a fund for the benefit of the widow. Many of his studies and sketches were made public after his death.


A posthumous exhibition of his works was held in February to March at M. Deschamp's Gallery at 168 New Bond Street.
After the exhibition, any works that were not private property were to be sold at Christie's for the benefit of the widow.

George C. Williamson wrote a biography of Pinwell in 1900.
However, Reid states that this was undertaken largely for the satisfaction of Pinwell's widow, and that "its main purpose seems to be to persuade us that Pinwell could hold his own in the most refined society" and to counter "contemporary allegations concerning his sobriety and his grammar!".



Williamson states that Pinwell's his first drawing appeared in Lilliput Levee in 1862, a book of rhymes for children by Matthew Browne(a pseudonym used by William Brighty Rands).
He executed several designs for the silversmiths Elkington's.
He worked for Josiah Wood Whymper, not as a regular apprentice, but in an informal arrangement.
At Whymper's Pinwell met J W North an apprentice of Whymper.
Pinwell belonged to the small group of watercolour painters which included Frederick Walker and Arthur Boyd Houghton, whose style came from drawing on wood for book-illustration.


Pinwell, Walker, and Houghton, three young men "who did so much for wood engraving in the sixties" all died in 1875 within seven months of each other.
Reid notes that there is a legend that Pinwell and Walker were friends, but in reality, this was not so. Walker only once visited Pinwell's house, in 1873, and he had already left Whymper when Pinwell started there.

Roget notes the many similarities between the lives of Pinwell and Walker: both died early in their careers, Pinwell was two and a half years younger than Walker, and survived him by only three months, both were partially educated at Heatherley's Academy, both began their profession as draughtsmen on wood, and in some cases worked on the same books, both died from consumption after attempting to stem it with a winter in Africa, they shared a common style, and shared common subjects, and had posthumous exhibitions at M. Deschamp's gallery in London after their deaths.


Together with Walker, another pupil of Whymper, and North, Pinwell was a member of a group known as the Idyllic School or the Idealists of which Walker is seen as the leader.
The name seems to come from the book Idyllic Pictures, an anthology of illustrations from The Quiver, printed from the original wood blocks, each accompanied by a poem, many of which were published for the first time.
A Round of Days (George Routledge and Sons, London, 1866) also consisted of poems with individual illustrations, is "sometimes considered archetypally Idyllic in spirit", and as it contains work by Walker and North as well as Pinwell and Houghton, is probably more representative of the school.
Gleeson White described it as "one of the finest of the illustrated gift books".


The following five illustrations were Pinwell's contribution to A Round of Days.
The Dalziel Brothers described the title as having been "chosen to designate a collection of Poems and Pictures representing every-day scenes, occurrences, and incidents in various phases of assistance".
Each poem has at least one accompanying illustration. In some cases the artist had illustrated the poem, in others the poet has tried to portray in words the ideas in an illustration.



Modern Book Illustrators stated that the charm of Pinwell's work was "its vivid pictorial truth to life, its dramatic feeling".
The Dictionary of Victorian Painters cites Hardie as saying that Pinwell could be set beside Charles Keene "as one of the greatest of British draughtsmen" Cundall notes that Pinwell "executed many small water-colour paintings with a peculiar charm" and that much of Pinwell's work "has refined feeling, but it often displays imperfections in execution".
Houfe calls Pinwell "A brilliant colourist".
Reid states that the work of an artist like Pinwell is always liable to over or under estimation. His art was "hampered constantly by imperfect technique" but that "its very failures are more interesting than the successes of cleverer draughtsmen".

In comparison to Fred Walker, Reid states that Pinwell "had a decorative sense far superior to Walker's" and that Pinwell "had a wider range, is infinitely more imaginative, and his work, above all, has a subjective, a lyrical quality".
The Graphic stated that Pinwell "did too much to do all things well, and, on the whole, although his originality and ability were beyond question, he never did quite justice to the genuine powers he possessed".
The Globe noted that "It is significant of the fine quality of Pinwell's art that many of his works are the property of artists". | Source: © Wikipedia




George John Pinwell (Londra, 1842-1875) è stato un illustratore ed acquarellista Britannico.
Studiò presso la St. Martin’s Academy e la Heatherley’s Academy.
Apparteneva al piccolo gruppo di acquarellisti, che includeva anche Frederick Walker ed Arthur Boyd Houghton.
Realizzò un piccolo disegno per il periodico Fun e ne eseguì diversi altri per le argenterie Elkington’s.
Lavorò per Josiah Wood Whymper e tramite quest’ultimo conobbe J W North e Fred Walker.

I migliori acquerelli di Pinwell sono stati probabilmente i tre dipinti che ha presentato per l'adesione alla Royal Watercolor Society sono stati A Seat in the Park e due scene del Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Pied Piper of Hamlin (topi) e The Pied Piper of Hamlin (bambini).
Altri dipinti molto apprezzati sono stati The Elixir of Love, The Troth of Gilbert Becket, The Saracen Maiden la leggendaria madre di Thomas Becket, Out of Town e Landlord and Tenant.






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