Edward John Gregory
British artist, Edward John Gregory, was born in the city of Southampton, in England, on April 19, 1850. As a young man he took a job at the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, starting out in the drawing office in the engineering department. He was only 15 at the time, but it didn’t take him long to realize that he had a gift for drawing, and he enrolled at South Kensington to take art lessons.
Gregory met another young artist named Herkomer, and they both went to London to study at the Royal College of Art. Following those studies Gregory took classes at the Royal Academy Schools. In 1871, as a talented illustrator and painter, both of watercolors and oils, he gained employment with The Graphic, along with his friend Herkomer, who was actually only a year older than Gregory. Herkomer was a British artist of German descent, and one day to become knighted by Queen Victoria and known as Sir Hubert von Herkomer in recognition for his excellence as an artist and teacher.
Working on mostly sentimental genre paintings and portraits, Gregory established himself very well, and in 1883 he was made an associate at the Royal Academy (RA). He was highly respected for his talent and his teaching as an art professor, and so gained a position as an academician at the RA in 1898. That same year, his superior watercolor techniques and his long career as an artist made him a worthy president of another institute, the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.
Gregory’s styles and techniques stand out due to his firm and decisive handling of the brush and paints as he places his strokes upon the canvases, and his draftsmanship was very fine. Every artist has at least one very significant painting, and Gregory is no exception. Among all of his exceptional pieces, this one is best recognized as his own: Boulter’s Lock, Sunday Afternoon. Boulter’s Lock was once a very popular boating spot in Maidenhead, on the River Thames. He made that watercolor painting to represent the high fashion of the time, which was leisurely boating by ladies and gentlemen of the Victorian Era. The edges of the painting are not within the framework, but painted as if they were cut off, which was a new format being followed by European artists of the day.
Another of his watercolor paintings, Marooned, is of two young women and their canoe, positioned up against the shoreline. Its quality and the narrative of the painting has earned it a home in the National Gallery of British Art. During his lifetime his works were exhibited not only in London, but also in Brussels, Paris and Munich, for which he was given distinctions.
He spent much of his life in London, but he did visit some of the European countries, including Italy, in 1882. His work did not seem much affected by his studies of the arts outside of Britain, and he continued to paint and exhibit his pieces until just short of the turn of the century. His last place of residence was in Marlow, which is in Buckinghamshire, and that is where he passed away on the 22nd of June, in 1909.