MENPES, Mortimer

(1855 - 1938)
"The world sighs for colour, and I will give it colour." 

Painter, etcher and writer, Mortimer Luddington Menpes was born in Australia, but moved to England with his parents in 1875 and began training as an artist at the London School of Art in 1878.  He established a considerable reputation as an etcher early on, and in 1880 he was first exhibited at The Royal Academy.  It was at this time that he met James MacNeil Whistler, who helped Menpes refine his art.  Later that decade he went on a tour to Japan, where he developed the style that was to make him famous.  In 1900 he became a war artist in South Africa, producing images of the Boer War for the magazine Black and White, and the following year the publishers A&C Black used his illustrations, along with Menpes’s own reminiscences of the war, to issue War Impressions , a landmark  book in colour publishing. This is generally considered the first book to make use of the radical new 3 colour printing process, which enabled illustrations to be reproduced in good quality at a reasonable cost. He continued to travel widely producing illustrated books of the countries he visited, generally for A&C Black.  In addition to his watercolour and oil paintings, he was also an expert and prolific printmaker, producing over 700 etchings and drypoints to great acclaim.  He regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy, was elected to the Royal Society of Painters and Etchers and became a member of the Society of British Artists.

After a lifetime of travelling, he spent the last 30 years of his life in  retirement in Pangbourne,  Berkshire.

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MENPES, Mortimer