The distinguised sea-painter W. L. Wyllie was born in London, but is most closely associated with Rochester and the Medway, and later with Portsmouth. He was born into an artistic family (C. W. Wyllie was also fairly well known), and trained at Heatherley's Academy, and then at the Royal Academy Schools, where he first exhibited in 1868. During the mid-1870s he spent much time on a barge, converted into a floating studio, going up and down the Thames - the Chantrey bequest bought one of his pictures from this time. A second painting was bought under the terms of that bequest in 1889, and in the same year he was elected ARA. He became a full Academician in 1907.
From the latter part of the 1880s, Wyllie lived for some years near Rochester, and somewhat after the turn of the century, moved to Portsmouth.
As well as marine paintings, Wyllie also painted ship portraits, and especially pictures of Navy battleships. His largest work was historical - the Battle of Trafalgar, which is in the museum in Portsmouth. Apart from being a painter, Wyllie was a noted etcher, and in the 1880s he produced illustrative work on a nautical theme for the magazines of the day.
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