Buried Treasure

The Altered Page is one of my favourite blogs written by the very talented Seth.
He has invited his readers to re-post one of their favourite posts about their work.

Rather than mine being about my work I have decided to re-post about my great, great grandfather, the marine landscape painter, Edwin Ellis.

Family History Unravelled, 7th October 2010.

Where to begin?

Have you ever watched “Who Do You Think You Are” on BBC One?
I watched the first series a couple of years ago now and I LOVED it. I found it really fascinating to hear about people’s ancestors, and loved the journey they went on.

So I started to trace my family tree. It is strangely addictive and many nights I would still be trawling through the census till after midnight. My Dad’s side was quite straight forward, but my mum’s side is way more complicated, but it was my mum’s side that I was particularly fascinated by. She hasn’t really any memorabilia from her family, the odd photograph of her as girl but that’s about it. She had been told that her Grandfather ( who she never met) was an artist, and that it was rumoured that his Father was an artist and had exhibited at the Royal Academy.

 I sent for my Nanna’s birth certificate and tried to trace back.

I am so excited to say that I found my Great, Great grandfather.
 He was called Edwin Ellis (1842-1895). On the census it says that he was an Artist/Painter in oil. My husband “Googled” him, and we found some more information about him.

by courtesy of Nottingham City art Gallery

He was a marine and landscape painter. He was born in Nottingham to Thomas (a lace manufacturer) and Anne, and worked for a brief period in a lace factory.
He studied art under Henry Dawson.

I contacted the Royal Academy library and a lovely lady there has given me loads of information about his paintings, which galleries house collections of his work, and the societies he was a member of. He is listed in the dictionary of Victorian painters, British marine painters and also the dictionary of Sea painters.
He was an elected member of the Society of British Artists in 1875.

The BBC have a new site called ‘Your Paintings’ and some of his work is listed there.

I have found out that Manchester city art gallery have one of his paintings, so I am going to take my mum so she can have a look at it. I also found out today that the V and A have one of his watercolours in the prints and drawings study room.

I am giddy beyond belief. I am humbled, and I am very probably rambling.

How cool is that?

(a few months after writing this post I also got another surprise – amaaazing!)

17 thoughts on “Buried Treasure

  1. I love that show on TV and can't believe how lucky you are to have found this relative of yours- and an artist of his stature. Just a wonderful story and so glad you are able to fill in more of your family's lineage. That is such a gift and this has been a true treasure from Seth's collab. Thanks so much for your posting. Will take a look at your links now!

  2. What a wonderful heritage of art to find in your family tree.. and to have one of his works at the Victoria and Albert museum– fabulous.. thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a lovely comment.

  3. I read your story (I'm here via Seth), and it is not only a beautiful story, but the SURPRISE was even better! You and your 'other half' are obviously 'committed', but I must say you are better at words than I am. Having been married for over forty years to the same wonderful woman, I can vouch for what it takes to stick it out, through the bitter and the sweet.Perhaps you got your talent from your GREAT, great grandfather!

  4. MrCachet – thanks so much for your lovely comment. Seth's blog is such a treasure trove of interesting creatives.Over forty years of marriage is something to be proud of!

  5. its 5 am in california. i was finished sleeping and thought i would do a little blog surfing. after a few click of the mouse i found your blog. and read this amazing post. (i was part of buried treasure this year also, and i don't know how i missed you on seth's blog) anyway, very found your post very touching.congrats on many counts – 20 years of happy married-dome, finding your great great, and that your mom gets to be part of this too.cheers.

  6. If it is of interest to you, we are fortunate enough to have a painting of your GGGrandfather.
    It is a beautiful adornment to a young man’s room. Featuring an ocean scene with a sailboat skimming over the waves.
    We have owned this for about 25 years.
    I hope it gives you Pleasure to learn it is being well cared for and loved.

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