Sir Alfred East RI, RA (1849-1913)

The landscape painter Alfred East was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, and showed early signs of artistic proclivity, being able 'to draw before he could talk'. Although his parents were against him pursuing an artistic career, while living in Glasgow he fell into the company of artists, and enrolled in the Government School of Art there. He then studied in Paris under Fleury and Bouguereau, painting his first Academy picture while at Barbizon. He then returned to Glasgow, but after some years ultimately moved to London, where he settled in 1884. He also made a six month visit to Japan. He exhibited landscapes at the Royal Academy from 1883 throughout the rest of his life, painting in oil and watercolour and being an accomplished etcher. His particular strength was in painting the effect of different lights on the landscape.

He was commissioned by the Fine Art Society to paint landscapes in Japan, and the exhibition of the resulting works in 1890 lead to much acclaim. He became ARA in 1899, was President of the Society of British Artists from 1906, and was knighted in 1910. He was finally elected RA only in 1913, shortly before he died.

East spent much time in America after 1900, and many of his pictures were bought by big American museums. However, he gave many paintings to his home town of Kettering, where an Alfred East Gallery was specially built.

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