Some Quantock Items

John William North

George Pinwell

John William North came to Somerset as a young artist in the 1860s and lodged in Halsway Manor. He married a local woman and moved first to Woolston Moor Farm near Bicknoller and then to Beggearnhuish House in the parish of Nettlecombe. Like his friend George Pinwell he earned a good living in his twenties as a talented and prolific illustrator. In 1869 he had a painting exhibited in the Royal Academy and in the following years he became a fashionable and successful artist. He lived partly in London and for a time had a house in Algiers but he never severed his ties with West Somerset. He Died at Beggearnhuish in 1924.

Among his early works are some very fine woodcuts and engravings for books of poetry. His later works in oils and watercolour are landscapes and paintings of nature. His work is sometimes described as 'poetic' and indeed his scenes are laden with unstated emotion and often contain fragments of incomplete narrative. He always worked direct from nature in the open air, and many of his paintings and engravings are Quantock scenes.

North and his associates are sometimes referred to as The Idyllists or The Idyllic School although there was never anything as formal as a 'school'. They shared the technical mastery of the Pre-Raphaelites who were their contemporaries but their subjects were rooted in the reality of Victorian rural life rather than in mythology. They have been described as pre-cursors of Social Realism.

Almost everything I know about North comes from Steve Milton's website.

Last Updated on  November 2nd, 2014