WILLIS, Henry Brittan

1810 - 1884

Henry Brittan Willis

Henry Brittan Willis was born at Bristol in 1810 and baptised at Clifton, Bristol on 10 March 1811, son of John Willis, an artist & drawing master, and his wife Ann. He learned the principles of art from his father, a landscape and figure artist of local repute, and Henry became a member of the Bristol Sketching Club whose members included William James Müller (1812-1845), Samuel Jackson (1794-1869) and Thomas Rowbotham (1782-1853). Henry married at St James's Church, Bristol on 3 August 1837, Elizabeth Anne Broughton, youngest daughter of Edward Broughton of Kingsdown, Kent and in 1841, was a 30-year-old artist, living at Marlbro Hill, St James, Bristol with his wife Elizabeth and his father-in-law, 70-year-old Edward Broughton, a merchant, and sister-in-law Christiana Broughton. Having little success at Bristol, 32-year-old Henry travelled to Buffalo, New York but after a year, ill-health caused his return to London when he began to exhibit the cattle pictures and drawings for which he became renowned. In 1851, a 40-year-old artist, living at Lidlington Place, St Pancras, London with his 38-year-old wife, who was born at 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 but by 1871 they had moved to 12 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 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 every year 1844-1861, although the exhibit for 1855 is incorrectly listed under Mrs H B Willis, also exhibiting at the British Institution and the Society of British Artists also showing work outside London including the Liverpool Academy of Arts. In 1850 he exhibited at the Suffolk Fine Arts Association at Ipswich 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 on 8 June 1863 and was a frequent contributor to the society's exhibitions. On 13 January 1874, much of Willis's artwork 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 Henry Brittan Willis died of bronchitis at his home at 12 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington, London on 17 January 1884, and buried at Kennington cemetery, Hanwell.

Royal Academy Exhibits
from 93a Stanhope Street, Regent's Park
1844 361 Scene near Bristol
from 123 Stanhope Street, Regent's Park
1845 647 A Scene near the Thames, Oxfordshire
1846 404 Landscape with Cattle
1847 314 A Scene on the Lynn at Lynmouth, North Devon
         655 A Scene on the South Side of the Vale of Ecclesborne, near Hastings, Sussex
1848 679 Harvest Time
1849 32 Early Morning
         333 At Bait-A Roadside Scene
         1138 A Summer Evening on the South Downs, in Sussex
from 7 Lidlington Place, Oakley Square, St Pancras
1850 1188 A Meadow Scene-Evening
         1203 A Brook Scene-near Worthing, Sussex
         1242 A Mill at Redhill, near Reigate, Surrey
1851 432 Maiden Meditations
1852 1101 The Forester and his Favourites
1853 412 A Scene in Sutton, Surrey
         1070 A Scene near Westgate and Wooton Wood in Surrey
1854 328 An Autumn Evening on the Conway
         539 A Quiet Nook near Hastings, Sussex
1855 1302 A Scene near Hastings, Sussex
Note: this is listed under Mrs H B Willis
1856 416 A Mountain Stream
         928 A Summer Evening
1857 637 Sunny Pastures in Sussex
1858 864 Milking Time, in the Mountains near Dolgelly, North Wales
1859 660 Sunny Time, in the South of Essex
1860 207 A Scene on the Sands of Port Madoc, North Wales
         413 An English Pastoral-from a Scene in Sussex
from 5 Hereford Square, New Brompton
1861 450 A Rest on the Road to the Fair
         536 Cattle on the Sands near Port Madoc, North Wales

Works by This Artist