Saturday, 18 December 2010

Hugh Wallis (1871 - 1943)

Hugh Wallis is a name familiar to those of you who are interested in arts and crafts metalwork, although many, including "Fine Art Auctioneers" still call him "Wallace". He is usually associated with the myriad of copper trays decorated with chased patterns marked HW. There is of course far more to his art and here are a few examples of his print/multiples.

Typical marks found on metalwork.

Hugh Wallis was born is in Kettering and in the 1890's he trained as an artist at the Herkomer School of Art at Bushey in Hertfordshire. He is recorded as a flower and figure painter and was competent enough to have exhibited widely, including:

Glasgow Institute of Fine Art - 1 picture
Walker Gallery, Liverpool - 2
Manchester City Art Gallery - 2
Royal Society of Portrait Painters - 2
Royal Academy - 12

He went into business initially as a painter having a studio at 7 Market Street, Altrincham in 1900.finally settling at 72 The Downs where he had his metal workshop. He was still describing himself as an artist in 1918. It is not known where he trained as a metalworker. There has been some reports of Keswick like work with Wallis' marks, but this is only hearsay. He employed 5 or 6 craftsmen working in his studio behind the Downs.

He produced a wide variety of objects including trays, shallow dishes, vases, bowls, fire screens, coal bucket and wall light. He is known to have produced the lighting for the Altrincham Council chambers as well as trophies and presentation gift. Usually made in copper or brass with some silver plated items and a few hallmarked silver items. The copper items would originally have a dark chocolate coloured patination and a tinned pattern. Both are usually polished off.

This is an example of paper cut or block print by Hugh. Everyone that I have seen has had a painted signature. They were created by applying the colour through a card pattern. Similar to stencilling or the French pochoir.

They are rarely seen and are usually still life compositions of flowers in vases within a chequered border. The borders are similar to those found on his metal work. Some have a grained background which I guess is simulate a marquetry effect, like the wooden panels produced by Rowley Gallery during this period.

Mostly these date from the mid 1920's.

Other owned include;

.... and his usually product - the copper tray.

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