1918 - 1975

Peggy Somerville

Margaret Scott Somerville was born at the Old Ford Farm, Ashford, Middlesex on 2 June 1918, one of the six children of Scottish born artist and collector Charles Somerville (4 March 1871-1939) and his second wife Rose Annie née Chantree (18 November 1878-1971), who married at St Michael's, Chester Square, London in 1905. In 1931 they moved to Shimpling in Suffolk, but her father died in 1939 when they were living at Fox House, Fox Road, Wigginton, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. Known as Peggy, she learned to paint from her father and older brother Stuart Scott Somerville. Peggy was a child prodigy and at the age of three, two of her watercolours were selected for exhibition at the Royal Drawing Society and aged seven, her painting 'Happy Days by the Sea', was exhibited at the New Irish Salon in Dublin and in the same year it was exhibited at the Bond Street Gallery, London. Her first solo exhibition was at the Claridge Gallery in Brook Street, Mayfair, London in June 1928 when she was hailed as a child genius by newspapers in Britain and as far away as Boston, USA and every one of the hundred or so paintings on show were sold. A further fifty-two of her works were on show at the same venue from 20 July 1929 and there was a further exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery, London from 22 November 1932. In 1937 she exhibited at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters from Fox House, Fox Road, Wigginton, Tring, Hertfordshire. After studying at the Royal Academy Schools for just a few months in 1939, she gave up formal study serving as a Land Army Girl 1942-1945 when she and her widowed mother went to live with her brother Stuart at Newbourne, Suffolk. From 1960 she and her mother, lived at Westleton, Suffolk and then moved to Middleton, Suffolk. Peggy made frequent excursions to the nearby Suffolk coast including Aldeburgh and she painted vigorous oils, watercolours and pastels, her beautiful Aldeburgh paintings showing a rare sensuality and sensitivity. After her early fame, her national reputation declined until she was rediscovered and promoted by art historian Stephen Reiss (1918-1999). Margaret Scott Somerville died of cancer at the Stone House, Middleton on 29 June 1975.

Works by This Artist