John Melhuish Strudwick (1849-1935)

An important late Pre-Raphaelite painter, Strudwick was born in Clapham and studied art at South Kensington and at the RA Schools, where he was not particularly successful, but received encouragement from the distinguished Scottish painter John Pettie. He worked as studio assistant first to Spencer Stanhope, and then to Edward Burne-Jones, which firmly established him in the Pre-Raphaelite mould. His first (and only) picture at the Royal Academy, Song without Words (1876) was already completely Pre-Raph. From the following year he exhibited at the Grosvenor, and later at the new Gallery. He lived in Hammersmith, close to Burne-Jones and T. M. Rooke, another studio assistant of Burne-Jones. He married (Harriet Reed) and had a single daughter.

Many of Strudwick's paintings have music as a central theme, for example When Apples were Golden (1906). He favoured rich, deep colours, Burne-Jones type faces and complex drapery. His angels are particularly entrancing. There is also an Italianate look to much of his work, despite his never having visited Italy, and this may be ascribed to the influence of Spencer Stanhope.

Strudwick was fortunate in acquiring two extremely rich patrons - the Liverpool shipowners, William Imrie and George Holt. Sudley Art Gallery, under the direction of the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, was the former home of George Holt, and several of Strudwick's paintings can sometimes be seen there, including Sirce and Scylla (1886). At the Walker itself is St Cecelia (1896). When Apples were Golden is at the Manchester Art Gallery. The Golden Thread was acquired under the terms of the Chantrey Bequest and is at the Tate Gallery. A Story Book is in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia.

Print of a picture after Strudwick.

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