Richard Caton Woodville (1856 - 1927)
A Brief History of His Life and his Work

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Woodville was primarily a journalistic war artist in the late 19th century and was renowned for his attention to detail. He also painted other scenes for The Illustrated London News.

He was destined to be a very talented artist due to his lineage. His father was also a war painter and the author of a famous picture entitled: "The Game of Chess", and his mother was extremely talented in portraiture. His father died before he was born.

Woodville was English by birth. He descended from a noble family-the Lancashire de Wyndevilles, from which King Edward IV selected his queen, and his great-grandfather on his mother's side was Charles Carroll of Carrolton-one of the signors of the Declaration of Independence. This heritage helped him to get started as a painter, lacking in the normal problems of being an artist, he came from an affluent background and therefore didn't struggle like many young artists did, (and still do).

Although he was surrounded by war-like activity as a child in St.Petersburg, Woodville was not inspired by this alone. He was largely influenced by the work of Wilhelm Kamphaussen - Court Painter for William I - to whom he was drawn whilst under the tuition of E. Von Gebbardt - A religious painter.

Woodville was brought up in St. Petersburg, lived in Paris then finally settled in London in 1875, where he began working for the Illustrated London News. He was a war painter and travelled to the Turkish war in 1878 and to the Egyptian war in 1882. He also worked in Albania and the Balkans. He collected various firearms and weapons on these excursions, which he kept for visual reference in his studio.

He painted in oils more often in the 1880's and began working only in colour in 1897 this was perhaps due to the fact that he surrounded himself with bright, vibrant colours in his studio in Queen's Gate, London. His work was always completed to a high standard and was extremely accurate although somewhat glamorous. In this he was compared with Meissonnier - another war painter who worked for The Illustrated London News.

R. Caton Woodville's work was primarily completed from memory due to the fact that his subjects were generally involved in quick action. Despite this, however, he was accurate to the last detail - no buttons or straps were missing in his paintings. He was particularly talented at describing horses in action although the people in his paintings are also expressive but not to the same degree. It has been written that he lacked in depicting the realities of war, however, he has been known to be quite good at representing this area. His paintings are a pictorial history of the brave soldiers of the British Nation.


Examples of Some of R. Caton Woodville's Work

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MILTARY PRINTS

Battle Scenes

WITHIN THE WALL OF THE BRITISH LEGATION
DURING THE DEFENCE - This is a sample of the full
picture, it depicts the fervent activity of the soldiers
preparing the defence.

THE CRISIS IN CHINA: FIGHTING ON THE RAMPARTS
- This is a sample of the complete image, it shows that
Woodville was able to depict the realities of war.

PIROT, BULGARIA

ARMADA - AT SEA

BAJADOS

BLENHEIM

MALPAQUET

SALAMANCA

WATERLOO

GORDONS

WAR IN EGYPT

ABOU KLEA

OUDENARDE

VIMIERO

CORUNNA

CUDDALORE

BULGARIA/SERVIA

INDIAN CAVALRY

Other Miltary Images

THE GALLANT LANCER - This picture shows Woodville's
attention to detail when drawing people and horses. There
is a lancer stopping for refreshment outside a local inn,
served by a maid with a child looking on.

NORTH - This is a sketch, the horse looking proud and the
soldier standing up in his stirrups looking out into the
distance as if scouting the horizon.

SOUTH - This is also a sketch, the horse bowing whilst
the soldier looks down, mouth agape at something to his
left.

ARRIVAL OF NEW SUBALTERN

HUNTING

GOING TO FOX HUNT

RETURNING FROM FOX HUNT

HUNTING "OLD EPHRAIM IN THE ROCKY'S - This is a
sample of the complete image. It shows Woodville's talent
when depicting action scenes.

WAPITI - HUNTING IN NORTH AMERICA - This image combines a hunter having just killed a stag with another print of hunters on a rock shooting at a herd. The first image is centered around the dead stag and his killer, whereas the second highlights the hunters and their surroundings. The herd is less focused, emphasising the speed at which they are travelling.

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MOUNTAINEERING

ASCENDING THE GREAT PYRAMID

TYROL - TURNING A CORNER

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MISCELLANEOUS PRINTS

BURMA - MINISTER OF STATE WITH ATTENDANTS

BULL-FIGHTING - EXCELLENT PRINT OF A BULL
FIGHT IN SPAIN

TRADES - ESTATE AGENT 'SOLD'

FISHING - FOR BASS ON THE SOUTH COAST
OF ENGLAND

LONDON - HYDE PARK 'IN THE ROW'

MOROCCO - A FALCONER

THE RISING OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS - BRAVES LEAVING THE RESERVATION

LOST THEIR WAY

 

 

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