William Widgery (1822-1893) by Frederick John Widgery (1861-1942). Oil on canvas. 91.4 x W 71.3 cm. Collection: Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter. Accession no. 1887/4/4. Given by Colonel A. Wyatt-Edgell, 1887.

William Widgery, the artist's father, was also an artist, as is quite apparent from this fine portrait. Completely self-taught, he made a name for himself by painting local scenes, both of the countryside and coast. Having made and sold copies of works by Landseer and Rosa Bonheur, he was also good at depicting cattle and horses, and his work was very popular: "He has painted over 3,000 pictures, and has sold them all; indeed, they are generally sold before they are off his easel, and any left the dealers are ready to take immediately" (Pycroft 155).

Although best known as a painter of the scenery of Dartmoor, Widgery senior visited Italy and Switzerland, and painted some scenes in Venice and in the Swiss mountains as well.

Frederick Widgery in many ways followed in his father's footsteps, but this characterful oil portrait, with its masterly handling of light and affectionate embrace of age, suggests that he could have excelled at portraiture too, had he so wished.

Image download and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. The image is available on Art UK under the terms of a Creative Commons Zero licence (CC0).


Pycroft, George. Art in Devonshire: with the biographies of artists born in that county. Exeter: Henry S. Eland, 1883. Internet Archive, from a copy in the Getty Research Institute. Web. 18 April 2024.

William Widgery (1822-1893). Art UK. Web. 18 April 2024.

Created 18 April 2024