Artist Biographies

Denys George Wells RBA 1881 - 1973

The Mall Galleries hosted an exhibition in 1972 of works by Denys George Wells, his first ‘one man show’. The remarkable thing is that he was 91 at the time and still painting. It marked the end of a very long career as an active artist, which stretched from the early years of the century until his death in June of the following year. Born in 1881, he studied at the Slade School of Art between 1897 and 1903. Augustus John had just left the Slade at that time, but his fellow students included William Orpen and Walter Sickert among others. He then continued his studies in Paris in the artist’s quarter of Montmartre, where he met Picasso, then unknown; he recalled that he “thought him quite mad.” On returning to England he was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1906 at the unusually young age of 25. (He became vice president in 1955). Denys George Wells joined the Artist’s Rifles as a commissioned officer in 1914 and served in France for the duration of the First World War. In 1927 he was invited to paint a miniature Still Life to go into Queen Mary’s Dolls House, which was shown at the British Empire Exhibition. At the time of the Second World War, being too old for active service, he served as an air-raid warden and was decorated for his efforts to save the injured while wounded himself. Shortly after his death, there was an exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London entitled the Last of the Edwardians. The works included in this sale cover the period 1910 - 1936, still lives and figure subjects, typical of his earlier work, and strongly reminiscent of the Edwardian period. He exhibited widely at the Royal Academy, the New English Art Club and the Royal Society of British Artists as well as the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts. His work can be found in overseas collections in America, Australia and South Africa, and in numerous municipal and corporate art collections, including the London Museum and the Houses of Parliament. One of his works was also presented to the Prince and Princess of Wales on their marriage in 1981.
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