EAST, Sir Afred Edward

1844 - 1913

Alfred East

Alfred Edward East, was born at Lower Street, Kettering, Northamptonshire on 15 December 1844, youngest child of Benjamin East, a shoe clicker, and his wife Elizabeth née Wright, who married at Kettering on 13 October 1817. In 1851, a 6 year old, living at Lower Street, with his parents, 55 year old Benjamin and 52 year old Elizabeth with two of his several siblings, Emily 14 and Mary Jane 12, both born at Kettering. Alfred attended the local grammar school and took up his father's occupation as a shoe clicker before becoming a commercial traveller in boots & shoes and was a partner in Charles East & Co., shoe manufacturers at Kettering. In 1871, he was boarding at 5 Queen Street, St George's, Glasgow and studying at the Glasgow School of Art, later studying at Académie Julian and l'Ecole des Beaux Arts, under William-Adolphe Bougereau (1825-1905), in Paris. He married at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire in 1874, (Sarah) Annie Heath and in 1881, a 36 year old married artist, staying at his brother-in-law's home at High Street, Street, Somerset with fellow artist, 36 year old Alfred Townsend (1846-1917). In 1891, a 46 year old artist painter, living at 14 Adamson Road, Hampstead, London with his 41 year old wife Annie with four of their five children, Alfred 13, Gertrude 12 and Annie 9, all born in Scotland, and newly born Mildred who was born at Hampstead. By 1901 they had moved to their final home at 49 Belsize Park, Hampstead. His romantic landscapes show the influence of the Barbizon School and in April 1888 he had shared an exhibition at the galleries of the Fine Art Society with Thomas Cooper Gotch (1854-1931) and William Ayerst Ingram (1855-1913), and the following year was commissioned by Marcus Bourne Huish (1843-1921), Managing Director of the Society, to spend six months in Japan to paint the landscape and the people of the country and an exhibition of the 104 paintings from this tour, was held at the Fine Art Society in 1890 which was a spectacular success. Elected an Associate of the Royal Academy on 31 January 1899, having been a regular exhibitor since 1883, and elected a full academician 1 July 1913, when his year of birth is incorrectly given as 1849, his watercolour 'Lee Manor Farm' was sold at the Royal Academy in 1900 for the then considerable sum of £150. In 1906 elected President of the Royal Society of British Artists, a position he held until his death. In the same year he published his 107 page illustrated 'The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour' in which he described his techniques using colours, half-tones and pencil sketches. He travelled extensively, both in England and in Europe, and was a member and exhibitor at the Woodpecker Art Club, later named the Norfolk and Norwich Art Circle, in 1904 and of the Ipswich Art Society in 1909 in which year he exhibited an oil 'The Shepherd's Walk, Windermere'. He was knighted by King Edward VII in 1910. The Alfred East Art Gallery in Kettering, designed by John Alfred Gotch, was opened on 31 July 1913 and is Northamptonshire's oldest purpose-built art gallery. He died at Belsize Park, Hampstead on 28 September 1913, when his body was taken back to Kettering and lay in state in the Art Gallery, where it was surrounded by the pictures he had presented to the town. His portrait was painted by Philip de Laszlo.

Works by This Artist