WILLIS, Henry Brittan

1811 - 1884

Henry Brittan Willis, was baptised at Clifton, Bristol on 10 March 1811, son of John Willis, a minor artist & drawing master, and his wife Ann. He was probably instructed by his father and was a member of the Bristol Sketching Club whose members included William James Müller (1812-1845), Samuel Jackson (1794-1869) and Thomas Rowbotham (1782-1853). Having little success, about 1841 Willis emigrated to New York but was back in London in 1843 when he began to exhibit the cattle pictures and drawings for which he became renowned. Henry married at St James, Westminster in 1848, Elizabeth Culverhouse, née Broughton and in 1851 was a 40 year old artist, living at Lidlington Place, St Pancras, London with his 38 year old wife, born Rochester, Kent, his 83 year old father-in-law Edward Broughton and 40 year old unmarried sister-in-law Christiana Broughton. In 1861, a 49 year old artist 'cattle & landscape', living at 5 Hereford Square, Kensington, London with his 47 year old wife Elizabeth and by 1871 had moved to Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington. Willis painted rural landscapes in both oils and watercolour all over England, Scotland and Wales, often featuring groups of farm animals such as cattle or sheep and four of his works were engraved for the 'Art Union Annual' of 1847 and in 1849 he published 'Studies of Cattle and Rustic Figures'. Henry exhibited at the Royal Academy; British Institution and the Society of British Artists also showing his work outside London including the Liverpool Academy of Arts and in 1850, at the Suffolk Fine Art Association [q.v.] at Ipswich, he exhibited an oil 'Hastings Castle by Moonlight' and a watercolour 'View of the Castle of Kautz, as seen from the Road leading to the Castle of Rheinfels, near St Goat on the Rhine'. Elected an associate of the Old Watercolour Society and a full member in 1863 and was a frequent contributor to the society's exhibitions. On 13 January 1873, much of Willis's art work was destroyed in a fire at the London Pantechnicon in Motcombe Street, Belgravia. In 1881, Henry was living at 5 Royal Terrace, Weston-super-Mere, Somerset, still with his wife and sister-in-law Christiana, but Willis died at his home at 12 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington, London on 17 January 1884, and buried at Hanwell cemetery. His wife exhibited 'Scene Near Hastings, Sussex' at the Royal Academy.

Works by This Artist