Henry Weekes (1831-1894)

Henry Weekes (1831-1894)

“Playful kittens”

Oil on Canvas

36 x 28in (91.4 x 71.1cm)

Signed and dated 1876

Henry Weeks was born in London. One of five sons, his father also named Henry Weeks, was born in Canterbury in 1807.

His father was a notable sculptor and exhibited at the Royal Academy British Institution and Suffolk Street. His works include the first bust of Queen Victoria after her accession, a monument to Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley, statues for the Martyrs’ Memorial in Oxford and the Manufactures group of the Albert Memorial in London. He was also the professor of sculpture of the Riyal Academy (1868-76). His lectures, published posthumously, were described by art historian Benedict Read as “the most consistent and intelligent exposition of sculptural thinking” of his era. His sons followed the same path, also exhibiting their paintings at the same venue. Growing up with their artistic and talented father was to influence their lives and his artistic gene, which was inherited by both of them.

His younger brother was Herbert William Weeks, who specialized in paintings of animals in a humoristic composition, invariably with figures in attendance.

His older brother Henry Weeks Junior was considered the more gifted and exhibited more paintings at notable exhibitions, especially The Royal Academy and his paintings are at the museum of Melbourne Australia, Leeds England as well as V.A in London.

There is a biography called Benedict Read, published in Painters of the Victorians Newhaven published in 1982.

Henry Weeks Junior painted mostly dogs, rabbits, cats and horses. His academy career started in 1851 when he was in residence at Lower Belgrave Place and his final home of Elms cottage. Harrow Weald his last exhibit was in 1884.

He painted many vertical paintings. The playful Kittens is probably painted in the artist studio. The artist’s pallet, with fresh oil paint, are supporting two of the five kittens, two of them playing with a blue ribbon, while the white kitten is trying to climb on to the pallet above her. The artist’s portfolio is at the bottom of the painting; with brushes in a jar on the right hand side, drapes and other artifacts, a sword and helmet with the visor extended. Henry Weeks Junior has captured the kitten’s playful energy and illustrates the superb draughtsman ship and academic quality of this renowned painter.

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