An attractive antique oil on canvas painting by prominent English painter Henry Woods Royal Academician (RA, or more traditionally as R.A.). He was born to a middle-class family at Warrington, England - 22 April 1846; died Venice, Italy – 27 October 1921.
The painting is signed and dated 1894 lower left. Title to plaque on the frame.
Measures 56 x 48 cm without frame; with frame 72 x 61 cm.
Excellent condition, considering age, professionally relined with only one small paint chip at the bottom near title (shown in close up).
Henry Woods was born to a middle-class family at Warrington. His father, William, was a pawnbroker and for some time a town councilor; his mother, Fanny, a shopkeeper. He was the eldest of nine siblings.
Woods studied at Warrington School where he received a Department of Science and Art bronze medal, and a scholarship to study at South Kensington School of Art, moving to London in 1865 with his fellow art student Luke Fildes: "the two became each others greatest friend and artistic confidant for life. In 1869 both Woods and Fildes became illustrators for The Graphic newspaper, and became associated with artists John Everett Millais, Hubert von Herkomer and Frank Holl. The same year Woods began exhibiting at Royal Academy exhibitions – his style influenced by Carl van Haanen and Eugene de Blaas – and continued to do so until his death.
By 1871 Woods and Luke Fildes were lodging together in Finsbury, London, and later at 22 King Henry's Road, Haverstock Hill, where each had a studio. Both were part of an outdoor landscape sketching circle that included Marcus Stone and Charles Edward Perugini. In 1874 Woods became brother-in-law to Fildes through the marriage of Fildes to his sister, Fanny, also an artist.
Woods first visit to Venice was in 1876, and, despite a few trips back to England, he stayed and worked there from 1878 to the end of his life, portraying everyday life of Venetian people. He became friends with the artist colony of Ludwig Passini, August von Pettenkofen, van Haanen, Eugene de Blaas, Wolkoff, Ruben, and Thoren. He met Whistler in 1879–80, introducing him to Roussoff, and befriended Sargent. In the summer of 1880 he visited England and took up a commission in the Artists' Rifles – he had been a volunteer for some years – practicing maneuvers on Wimbledon Common, and posting guard at Royal Academy banquets.
It was his 1881 Venice paintings At the foot of the Rialto and The Gondolier's Courtship that aided his associate membership of the Royal Academy in 1882; in 1893 he became a full member alongside Henry Moore and John MacWhirter. Before 1882 he had a studio on the Casa Raffaelli, after which he took a larger studio overlooking the Grand Canal, near the church of San Maurizio, while working at the village of Serra Valle during "the full heat of the Venetian summer." One of the visitors to his studio was Empress Frederick, who discussed his Serra Valle paintings favourably. During 1890–92 Woods wrote letters from Venice for publication in The Daily Graphic.
In 1889 a work submitted to the Paris Exposition Universelle won a bronze medal.
Woods was also a member of The Arts Club, and an honorary member of the Accademia di Bella Arte.
Apart from two-and-a-half years prior to 1919, and occasional visits to England to exhibit at the Royal Academy, Woods remained in Venice until the end of his life, latterly at the Calcina Hotel near the Zattere. On 27 October, in the morning, Woods was painting at the Ducal Palace and returned by gondola to the Calcina for lunch. The gondolier returned later and found Woods dead beside his easel. A memorial service was held at San Vio, the English Church, after which he was buried in the Protestant cemetery.
The works of Henry Woods are held in private and public collections, including those at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, the Government Art Collection, London, New York Public Library, the Royal Academy of Art, Tate Britain, Tyne and Wear Museums, Newcastle, and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
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