Lucy Kemp-Welch

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(British, 1869-1958)

Lucy Kemp-Welch (18691958) was a British painter who specialized in painting working horses. She is best known for her illustrations to the 1915 edition of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty. She was born in Bournemouth, showing an early excellence in art - exhibiting for the first time when she was 14 years old - and when she was 19 years old, she moved to Bushey to study at Hubert von Herkomers art school.

Kemp-Welch believed in painting out of doors, and made numerous quick oil sketches. As one of Herkomer's best and most favoured students, she was able to set up her own studio, in an old former inn known as 'Kingsley'. She took over the direction of the School after Herkomer in 1905 and ran it until 1926, when she spent several summers following Sanger's Circus, recording the horses.

She resided in Bushey, Hertfordshire for most of her life and a major collection of her works is in Bushey Museum. They include very large paintings of wild ponies on Exmoor, galloping polo ponies, the last horse-launched lifeboat being pulled into a boiling sea, heavy working horses pulling felled timber and hard-working farm horses trudging home at the end of the day. Her interest in equine subjects extended to the use of horses in war, and she painted two Boer Warscenes, 'In Sight': Lord Dundonald's dash on Ladysmith (Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter), and Sons of the City (private collection). During World War One, she exhibited Big Guns to the Front (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff), and The Leaders of a Heavy Gun Team (Royal Artillery Institution).

As well as pictures of horses, she painted other animals, flowers, and landscapes. Colt-Hunting in the New Forest (1897) became her best-known picture after being purchased for the Chantrey Collection for 500 guineas. It is in the Tate Gallery.


Exercising, Russley Park
Oil on Board 16" x 24"