Walter Ouless

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Walter Ouless


The artist aged 10 in 1858, probably photographed by his father

Walter William Ouless was a portrait painter

The son of Philip Ouless and Catherine Savage, Walter was born in St Helier on 21 September 1848 and educated at Victoria College. He had clearly inherited his father’s artistic talent and entered the Royal Academy Schools when 17. He had his first picture accepted for the Academy Exhibition in 1869. He was elected ARA in 1877 and RA in 1881.

Ouless and his mother Caroline (nee Savage) in 1852

He began as a painter of pictures with a story behind them. His first Academy pictures were called He was a stalwart knight, Home again, Sad tidings, An incident in the Revolution, Sympathy, and Dorcas visiting the poor. His picture of David and Goliath hangs in the Hall at Victoria College.

He soon realized that his strength lay in portraiture. His portraits of John Bright, Thomas Hardy, and Sir George Scharf hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Other well-known portraits of his are those of Cardinal Newman (now in the Oratory, Birmingham), Cardinal Manning, Lord Roberts, Lord Kelvin, the Duke of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales (1900), Lord Lister, Lord Stanhope, Lord Selbome, John Morley and Charles Darwin. He also painted a bevy of Victorian Bishops, including the Archbishop of York (Thomson), the Bishops of Lincoln (King), London (Jackson), Norwich (Pelham), Oxford (Mackainess). Worcester (Philpott), St Alban's, Chichester, Truro, and Llandaff.

His self portrait was bequeathed to La Société Jersiaise.

R Muther in his History of Modern Painting writes of him:

"Among portrait painters Walter Ouless will probably merit the place of honour immediately after Watts as an impressive exponent of character. He has assimilated much from his master, Millais, not merely the heaviness of colour, which often has a disturbing effect in the latter, but also Millais' powerful flight of style. The chemical expert, Pochin, as Ouless painted him in 1861, does not pose in the picture, nor allow himself to be disturbed in his researches. It is a thoroughly contemporary portrait, one of those brilliant successes which later arose in France also. The Recorder of London, Mr Russell Gurney, he likewise painted in his professional character and in his robes of office. In its inflexible graveness and earnest dignity the likeness is more than the portrait of an individual; it seems the embodiment of the English Bar resting on the most ancient traditions. His portrait of Cardinal Manning had the same convincing power of observation, the same large and sure technique. The soft light plays upon the ermine and the red stole, and falls full on the film austere face".

He married Lucy Maitland Chambers, daughter of Doctor T K Chambers, Physician to the Prince of Wales.

He died in London on 25 December 1933. His daughter, Catherine, became a distinguished painter. He had two other daughters, Evelyn Ursula and Margaret Olivia.


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1983 Jersey stamp issue

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