Wilfrid R. Wood
Wilfrid Rene Wood (1888-1976) was born in the Manchester suburb of Cheadle, Hulme, and was educated at Manchester Grammar School. His father was a cutler and part-owner of a cotton mill; his mother was a respected artist who had worked as a decorative painter at the Royal Doulton potteries. Wilfrid studied art at the Manchester School of Art and Central School of Art in London. During the First World War he served in the Artists Rifles and Machine Gun Corps. In 1918 he resumed his training at the Slade School of Art in London. In 1920 he moved to the London suburb of Hampstead and began to paint local scenes, concentrating on old buildings and areas threatened with development. At this time he also commenced the travels abroad which were to provide him with so many of his subjects. During his career he painted in almost every country in Europe, as well as venturing into Africa and Russia. In 1924 he staged his first major London exhibition at Walker’s Galleries, New Bond Street, showing paintings of East Anglia and Venice. Queen Mary was sufficiently impressed to purchase several watercolours of Venice. In 1927 he produced a series of posters on Kew Gardens for London Underground. In the same year he began a series of town exhibitions, starting at Oxford and continuing at Norwich, Cambridge and Tenby. His paintings and prints expressed a sensitive insight into the beauty of English towns. In 1937 Wilfrid moved to Stamford in Lincolnshire, having accepted a commission to record the buildings and street scenes of the town before the threat of imminent change. He lived with his wife Joan, also a professional artist, at Barnack. His first exhibition in Stamford was held at the end of 1937, and he continued to paint scenes of the town for many years. In the late 1930s and 1940s he was also commissioned to paint the vanishing street scenes of Peterborough, where whole sections of the old city were being demolished to make way for progress. In later life Wilfrid served as President of the Welland Valley Art Society, founded in 1945. His name lives on in the Wilfrid Wood Gallery at Stamford Arts Centre. A large permanent collection of his works is held by Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery and Peterborough Cathedral.
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Broad Street, Stamford, Lincolnshire
A watercolour measuring 12” x 16”. Signed Wilfrid R. Wood and dated 40. Label verso: ‘Broad Street, Stamford / Wilfrid R. Wood / “Littlefield”, Barnack, Stamford, Lincs’.
On the right side of the street is Browne’s Hospital, an almshouse…
…dating from the 15th century. The spire in the centre background is that of All Saints Church. This image was painted during the Second World War, as evidenced by the soldier in uniform.
St Martin’s Without, Stamford, Lincolnshire
A watercolour measuring 10¼” x 13½”. Signed Wilfrid R. Wood and dated 60. Label verso: Granby Gallery, Bakewell, Derbyshire.
Wood described this scene in 1956: ‘To enter Stamford by the Great North Road from the South is an experience which must impress most people…
…The mellow colours of the local stone and the details of church towers and spires, windows, porches, chimneys and roofs provide a fascinating study throughout the whole of High Street St. Martin’s… The two gables with their bow windows at No. 52 [on the left] are attractive and further down the hill… is the George Hotel with its gallows sign across the road’ (Wilfrid R. Wood, Watercolour Drawings of Stamford, 1956).
A Spanish Roofscape
A watercolour measuring 9½” x 13½”. Signed Wilfrid R. Wood.
A Mountain Landscape
A watercolour measuring 10½” x 14½”. Signed Wilfrid R. Wood and dated 47.
Midday, Arezzo, Italy
A watercolour, pen and ink measuring 19½” x 14¾”. Signed Wilfrid R. Wood and dated 22. Exhibition label verso: ‘No. 2, Midday Arezzo Italy, £15.15.0, Wilfrid R. Wood, 31 Rudall Crescent, Hampstead, N.W.3’.
Arezzo is a town and district in Tuscany…
The building on the right is the medieval Palazzo dei Priori, built in 1333 with a clock from the 15th century. It housed the highest magistrature of the town, and is now the seat of the town council. Wood’s painting shows the original building before significant changes were carried out as part of a rebuilding in 1930, including castellations on the façade and top of the tower.
Merton Street, Oxford
A watercolour measuring 15¼” x 11”. Signed Wilfrid R. Wood and dated 25.
In the centre background are the tower and…
…north transept of Merton College Chapel. In the right foreground is Corpus Christi College, and on the left is Oriel College.