William Lionel Wyllie


Artist Biography:

The marine painter W L Wyllie was born in London on 5 July 1851 and made his name as an extremely successful painter of maritime scenes in both oil and watercolour. He was the son of William Morison Wyllie, a genre painter, and brother of another successful artist, C W Wyllie. He studied art at Heatherley’s and subsequently at the Royal Academy Schools between 1866 and 1869, where he won the Turner Medal in 1869. His work was exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1868; he was elected a Member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-colours in 1882 and was also elected to a number of other prestigious bodies, including the Royal Academy in 1907. Wyllie’s obsessive love of the sea embraced every type and size of vessel, and also inspired him to cover every aspect of the working river, which was an unusual theme at the time. His semi-circular panorama of the Battle of Trafalgar is now kept in the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth, and on his death the watercolours in his studio were purchased for the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. One of Wyllie’s last tasks was his work as a member of the committee supervising the restoration of HMS Victory to her Trafalgar state. As well as painting, W L Wyllie wrote “J M W Turner” in 1905 and “Marine Painting in Watercolour”, as well as a number of other books. He lived in Portsmouth for many years from 1907 and died in London on 6 April 1931.

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