Roland Wheelwright (1870-1955)
Rider and Horse
Oil on Board, 29 x 39cm / 40 x 47cm
The painter Roland Wheelwright, born in Queensland, Australia, came, while very young to England, and after attending Tonbridge School, went to Herkomer’s School in Bushey. Lucy Kemp-Welch studied there at the same time, and like her, Wheelwright settled in the area (first Watford, then in Bushey itself), and painted a lot of horses. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1895 all the way through till 1930. His work falls into three areas. Firstly, historical and romantic paintings in a realist style, usually choosing subjects with an excuse to feature horses, such as Don Quixote, and perhaps his best known painting, Joan of Arc taken Prisoner (1906). Later in his career he cut out the literature and produced rather conventional though bright pictures of horses in rustic surroundings, without any story. His third subject area was rather different – girls in Edwardian swimsuits, bathing or boating or sunning themselves. These latter were rather characteristic – short-haired rather than long-haired, as we might expect for Edwardians, and normally rather buxom figures, the curves emphasized by the folded drapery, which is treated with some care.
Wheelwright also did a fair amount of illustrative work, including Dickens, Scott, Dumas and the works of other great literary figures.