BUTLER, George Edmund

1872 - 1936

George Edmund Butler

Born at South Stoneham, Southampton, Hampshire on 15 January 1872, son of Joseph Cawte Butler, a builder, and his wife Jane née Tiller and in 1883 the family emigrated to Wellington, New Zealand. After completing his education at Te Aro School, Butler worked for his father and from 1890 studied art part-time under James MacLauchlan Nairn (1859-1904) at the Wellington School of Design. In 1892 he joined the avant-garde Wellington Art Club, founded by Nairn, and soon established a local reputation for his paintings of seascapes. In 1897 Butler went, with the Wellington art dealer McGregor Wright, to Sydney to study pictures in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales and afterwards studied abroad at Lambeth School of Art, the Académie Julian in Paris where he gained honours, and at the Antwerp Academy, winning a gold medal and laurel wreath in 1900. Whilst in England he married at Lyndhurst, Hampshire on 29 April 1899 his first wife, Sarah Jane Popplestone. In 1900 Butler returned to Wellington and exhibited in Wellington and Christchurch Art Society exhibitions that year. The following year he settled in Dunedin and exhibited there until 1905 and his paintings won praise at the Otago Art Society exhibitions supporting himself by giving tuition in drawing, and was commissioned to complete a number of portraits of city dignitaries. In 1905 he returned to England and settled in Bristol, teaching art at Clifton College. After establishing a reputation as a portrait and landscape artist in oils and watercolours Butler was elected to the Royal West of England Academy in 1912 and also exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Scottish Academy, the Royal Academy and the annual salon exhibition at the Société des Artistes Français in Paris. At the outbreak of the First World War, the New Zealand Expeditionary Force War Museum appointed him official New Zealand war artist with the honorary rank of captain and he joined the New Zealand Division in France. After demobilisation on 31 December 1918, Butler was privately commissioned by Robert Heaton Rhodes and Major General Sir Andrew Hamilton Russell to do a series of senior officer portraits and a number of large landscapes of New Zealand battlefield sites along the Western Front these were purchased by the New Zealand Government. Butler never returned to New Zealand and went on to reside at The Studio, Bath Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk where his wife Sarah died on 15 March 1928. A member of the Ipswich Art Club 1923-1929 and exhibited from The Studio, 77 Henley Road, Ipswich in 1923 five oil paintings 'The Garden of Childhook', 'Homeward', 'Portrait', 'Feeding the Fowls' and 'Spring'. On his second marriage on 29 April 1929 to Monica Susan Boyce (1877-1966), he returned to London. He died at Twickenham on 9 August 1936, survived by his second wife and two children, Berenice [q.v.] and Brian, from his first marriage.

Works by This Painter