W.L.Wyllie: Marine Artist, 1851-1931

William L. Wyllie (1851-1931) has long had a devoted following in nautical circles for his depictions of Naval subjects and engagements of 1914-1918. This book presents for the first time a balanced and thoroughly illustrated general assessment of an artist surely to be seen in the great tradition of British Marine Art.Wyllie's art, extending to various media from drypoint to oil, comprises a far wider range than is generally realised. There are the charming and sensitive early watercolours and pencil drawings of the coast of Northern France, followed by oils, watercolours and drypoints and etchings of the lower Medway and Thames at the peak of its mercantile grime and grandeur. In the last twenty-five years of his life, Wyllie concentrated on large-scale Naval and historical canvases of meticulous documentary authenticity, culminating in the Panorama of the Battle of Trafalgar at the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth. In his final period Wyllie also reached a peak in his etchings, with the magnificent series of London Thames scenes.One hundred and twenty-six illustrations, thirteen of them in colour, provide an overall view of Wyllie's art more comprehensive than any yet seen.The selection draws largely on the vast wealth of the Wyllie Collection of drawings and watercolours at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Preceding the main part of this book is an account of the artist's life by his grandson, John Wyllie, who draws on early memories of his grandfather, and gives us a glimpse of the remarkable family of artists surrounding W.L.Wyllie. The emerging portrait of Wyllie vividly bears out these observations made by Sir Hugh Casson in his Foreward: 'Wyllie...seemed to live entirely on behalf of (and only) for boats. He designed them, cared for them, sailed them and above all he never ceased to draw and paint them in every size and shape and in all weathers. He drew them as a seaman would...accurately, affectionately and above all with deep practical understanding...'...his quick shorthand watercolour sketches are not those of the contemplative, visionary or poetic painter. Wyllie dealt with facts...but because he loved those facts he made from them an art that is lively, modestly aimed but truthfully accomplished, an art that is set unmistakably with the seal of the sea.'