Mortimer Menpes

Painter and etcher (1855 - 1938) who was born in Australia and moved to Britain in 1875. He was a pupil of James McNeill Whistler

Menpes studied at the National Art Training School in South Kensington, under Sir Edward Poynter (1836 - 1919). He was a successful painter and a keen etcher who exhibited over thirty-five paintings and etchings at the Royal Academy throughout his career.

In 1875 Menpes married Rosa Mary Grosse (died 1936) and in the early 1880s he and Walter Sickert (1860-1942) became James McNeill Whistler's (1834-1903) studio assistants. Under Whistler's instruction they learnt to etch and printed a number of his etchings. In 1881 Menpes was elected to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers and in 1885 to the Society of British Artists, which elected Whistler its President.

In 1883 Menpes and Sickert travelled with Whistler to St Ives in Cornwall for a sketching tour. Menpes became part of Whistler's inner circle and Whistler was godfather to Menpes' daughter who was christened Dorothy Whistler Menpes. Like most of Whistler's friendships their relationship began to deteriorate by the mid 1880s, after Menpes had travelled to Japan, a trip which Whistler believed "was reserved for the “master”'. When Menpes returned in 1888 with an exhibition of his Japanese drypoints at Dowdswell's Gallery, London, Menpes refused to sign himself as a ‘Pupil of Whistler’. From then on, Whistler ignored Menpes completely.

Menpes was one of the founding members of the New English Art Club in 1886. He was also a member of The Arts Club from 1889 to 1896. In 1897 he was elected a member of the Institute of Painters in Water Colours and in 1899 to the Institute of Oil Painters. In 1900 Menpes was appointed a war artist in South Africa for Black and White. He continued to travel, visiting Japan, India, Mexico, Burma, Morocco and Egypt producing illustrated books of the countries he visited.
  • Gender
  • Relationship
  • Nationality
    Australian; British
  • Born
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place of birth
    Oceania: Australia: Port Adelaide
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