SYMONDS, William Robert

1851 - 1934

William Robert Symonds - self-portrait

Born at Yoxford, Suffolk on 25 February 1851, eldest child of Nathaniel William Symonds (1822-1872), grocer & draper, and his wife Susannah née Cotton (born 1830), who married at Yoxford in 1849. About 1860 the family moved to 37 Tavern Street, Ipswich where Nathaniel was a master boot & shoe maker and in 1871 the family were living at 17 Cobbold Street, Ipswich where Nathaniel was a ‘woollen draper’ and William an ‘art student’, studying under W T Griffiths [q.v.] at Ipswich Art School before proceeding to the Royal Academy Schools where, in 1873, awarded the ‘premium for the best drawing from the Antique.’ He then spent several months in Antwerp and on his return specialised in portrait painting. In 1875 an artist with a studio at 2 Princes Street, Ipswich, later using one of the Christchurch Park Lodges then in Soane Street, and in 1881 living at Ringham Road, Ipswich, where his widowed mother acted as his housekeeper. A member of the Ipswich Fine Art Club 1876-1934 and in 1881 exhibited a portrait of Sterling Westhorp and continued to exhibit in 1882 from his studio at Holland Park Road, Kensington but 1883-1885, when living at The Mount, Ringham Road, Ipswich, exhibited from a studio in Soane Street, Ipswich in 1883 exhibiting four portraits in oil 'Mrs Cheston', 'Portrait', 'Jim, grandson of Sir James Anderson', 'Daniel Lister' and a drawing 'Portrait Study' and was a regular exhibitor. He still kept a London studio from where he exhibited at Birmingham Royal Society of Artists; Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts; the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Manchester City Art Gallery; New Gallery; the Royal Academy; Grosvenor Gallery; Royal Institute of Oil Painters; Royal Society of Portrait Painters, of which he was a member, and Paris Salon between 1851 and 1934. He married in 1891, 32 year old Margaret Maya James of Worcester, who had given birth the previous year to a son Robert Weyms Symonds, when they were living at The Studio, Holland Park Road, Kensington but in 1901 living at 2 Rowan Road, Brook Green, Hammersmith. He undertook several mayoral portraits in Ipswich and was a member of Ipswich Fine Art Club 1876-1934 being elected president in 1889 and two of his oils 'Girl with Silver Fish' and 'The Princess and the Frog' were on display at their 1974 centenary exhibition. He died at Chelsea on 7 November 1934. His portraits are in the Wallace Collection, Army Medical School, Queen's College, Belfast, Ipswich Museums, Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley; Oriel College, Magdalen College and Pembroke College, Oxford.




Works by This Painter