Richard Copeland Weatherby


Richard Copeland Weatherby (1881-1953) Exh. RA 24

Public Collections include Penzance.
The name Weatherby is synonymous with horse racing and, accordingly, it is little surprise that horses and hunting should have played a significant role in both the life and art of 'Seal' Weatherby, as he was known to all from early childhood. Born at Walton, near Chertsey in Surrey, he was one of ten children. He was educated at Winchester and studied at a number of art schools before enrolling in 1911 at the Royal Academy Schools at South Kensington. After finishing these studies, Weatherby spent some time in Penzance and Lamorna before enlisting in 1915. He saw action in a number of battles, including The Somme, and was severely wounded in the right wrist in 1917 and discharged. Badly affected by his experiences, he recuperated at 'Menwinnion', the home of Frank and Jessica Heath in the Lamorna Valley and took some further instruction from Stanhope Forbes. He rented Munnings' old studio in the flour loft at Lamorna Mill, kept his horses in the adjoining stables and lived for a time at the local pub, 'The Wink'. However, he appears to have spent some time in London during the 1920s and to have only settled in Cornwall permanently at the end of the decade, after a visit to Kashmir.

Weatherby was principally a portraitist and a horse painter, and he painted boldly and vigorously. A critic commented, "Mr Weatherby works at top speed and, with a definite touch and disciplined hand, he places each tone upon the canvas with conviction and finality. His work certainly looks untouched and fresh, and the consequent luminosity is a feature of his art." (St Ives Times 16/10/1936) Hunting without doubt was the great love of his life and he joined the Cury Hunt, becoming Master between 1930 and 1935 and again in 1939. In the early 1930s, he moved to Cury Cross and he acquired a field above Mullion in which to erect a studio, but he then added a stable and quarters for his hounds and so, in 1938, 'The Grange', as he called it, became his home.

Weatherby's gregarious nature and easy going charm made him popular with all the local artists, and he became particularly friendly with Stanley Gardiner, Lamorna Birch and his wife, all of whose portraits he painted in the 1930s. At one juncture, he was engaged to Midge Bruford but he eventually married Karenza Boscawen, an active member of the hunting fraternity, in 1943. He was 61 and she was 39 and their marriage had been delayed due to the opposition of her parents. They moved to live at Alverton House, Penzance. Hunting and gardening remained passions and he continued to exhibit at the RA until 1948 but shortly thereafter, due to failing health, he moved back to his family home at Brill and is buried in Brill churchyard. His magnificent portrait of fellow Lamorna artist, Stanley Gardiner, is owned by Penlee House Gallery and Museum.

(Abridged extract from David Tovey, Creating A Splash : The St Ives Society of Artists (1927-1952), Wilson Books, 2004)

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