Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Paintings by Arthur Wellington Fowles

Painting on Display at Northwood House

Arthur Wellington Fowles (1815-1883) was a British Master Painter, a well-known marine artist, of George Street, Ryde.  He was often to be seen on the pier, or on the shore gathering materials for his paintings, until one fine afternoon he decided to visit Fishbourne in order to make some sketches of the yachts and scenery there, he was accompanied by his 6-year old son.  Whilst his father was making a sketch of a yacht, the little fellow lifted up a gun belonging to a mariner close-by, and the gun went off, accidentally hitting Mr. Fowles in the head.  A medical man was sent for, but unfortunately nothing could be done.  (read more about Mr. Fowles here)

Ryde Regatta 1864

Mr. Fowles reputation as an artist was something more than local, and he was almost universally known amongst yachtsmen.  Well acquainted with the sea, Mr. Fowles excelled in portraying the various incidents of yacht races.  For facility of execution and correctness of detail he was acknowledged to be without rival in these parts.  The qualities were gained, not by academic training, for he was self taught, but by constant observation and study of nature.

Mr. Fowles aspired to be something more than a mere yacht portrait painter, and under the generous patronage or Mr. Vivian Webber, who gave him many commissions, he was able to execute a number of large pictures, which may be classed as historical, for they aimed to represent events of local interest.  Some of these adorned the Town Hall at Ryde, and others were hung at Newport, Southampton, Portsmouth, Shanklin, and other places.  The best of them was judged to be “The Cambria winning the Town Cup.”  Also well praised was “The Laying of the Atlantic Cable.”

Royal Yacht Approaching Man of War 1870

The style of the paintings is easily recognisable, some have been purchased by collectors abroad. A few still remain in the local area, and were on display at Northwood House for a while.  Two of his large seascapes were lost in the fire on June 1933 at the Town Hall.  At least one, is kept in store by the IW Council owing to it being slightly damaged (photo left).  There may be others in store.  His major works are at the National Maritime Museum.  Printmaker T. G. Dutton produced many of his works as lithographs.

Sources: RSHG Archive, IW Observer & IW Council
Images: RSHG Archive
Article: Ann Barrett