Derbyshire Artists - Artists with Derbyshire connectionsDerbyshire Artists
Artists with Derbyshire connections


Derbyshire Artists

John Piper 1903 - 1992

John Piper is amongst the most distinctive painters of the 20th century. Born in Epsom, Surrey. After studying law he went on to study art at Richmond School of Art and the RCA. His style, his panache and his sense of colour are unique and unmistakeable.

His earliest work was in the abstract and his monument the great window in Coventry Cathedral. He designed for the theatre, opera and ballet but eventually realised his true interest was in the depiction of England's churches and country seats. He painted the after effects of war on England's architectural heritage as part of Recording Britain.

Renishaw and it's surroundings made a deep impression on him and he learned to love the mysterious old house and the eccentric family that lived in it.

See John Piper Gallery at Renishaw

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith was one of the first artists who explored and displayed the beautiful scenes of his native country. He travelled the Midlands and the Lake District, painting famous views and country houses including Chatsworth.

Thomas Smith was the father of John Raphael Smith (1752-1812) generally known as 'Smith of Derby' who painted minitures and became mezzotint engraver to the Prince of Wales in 1784.

In Nov 2001, a painting of Thomas Smith called 'An Extensive Landscpe with Hunting Party' fetched 67,200 at an auction at Sotherby's. He painted the picture in 1751, 16 years before his death.

Ernest Townsend 1880 - 1944

Ernest Townsend was a true born and bred Derbian. Youngest of 5 children he was apprenticed to the architects Wright and Thorpe at the age of 14, before changing direction to study painting and drawing at the Derby Art School in Green Lane. After a five year spell in London he returned to Derby. He married Doris Campbell in 1812, a fellow member of the Derby Sketching Club, and worked in a studio behind 22 Irongate until 1914, when he moved it to 31 Full Street.

Townsend was foremost a portrait painter and completed over 250 portraits in his lifetime. Many of these included Derby Mayors and dignitaries.

A significant influence in Townsend's career and work was the patronage of Alfred E. Goody who presented a collection of 500 paintings to the town of Derby in 1936, which provide a valuable historical record of the town. Townsend was specially commissioned to produce several of these townscapes. In 1924 he was chosen to paint a huge mural representing Derby's history to be displayed in the Civic Hall at Wembley Great Exhibition.

During the war Townsend was commissioned to develop a camouflage scheme designed to give Rolls Royce factory, a prime target for german bombers, the appearance of a village when seen from the air.

George Turner 1843 1910

George Turner was known as the Derbyshire 'John Constable' for his scenes of unspoilt english countryside. His paintings are a recording of rural life that has vanished. Great landscapes with church towers in the distance, sheep crossing muddy lanes lined with great oaks and horse drawn carts with gypsies.

His pictures were almost photographic in their attention to detail at the start of his career but by the 1881's and 90's his style became freer, more atmospheric and more impressionistic.

Turner was born in Cromford but to Barrow on Trent in Southern Derbyshire where he met and married his first wife Eliza Larkin. They lived at a cottage called 'The Walnuts'. The area was an inspiration for many of his paintings. They had 4 children, two of whom became painters, with his son William (1867-1936) exhibiting 11 works at the Royal Academy.

George Turner had a considerable output through his life and though very popular in Derbyshire, he never exhibited in London. He wa a member of the Derby Corporation Art Gallery Committee and around 1880 he was commissioned to paint views of Calk Abbey by Lady Crewe. After the death of his wife in 1900 he noved to Kirk Ireton taking up residence in the Barley Mow pub. He married the artist Kate Stevens Smith and moved to Cliffe Ash Cottage in Idridgehay were he remained till he died. He was buried in the local churchyard.

Joseph Wright 1734-1797

Please see Joseph Wright

Other Local Artists

Thomas Issacc Shore 1876-1960

Artist and Miller born 1876 died 1960, He was a miller at Nether Heage Windmill Which was owned by his farther Joseph Smith Shore. Although he never made a name for himself this was because they where brought locally or traded in at the local shop for food and to pay debts i know that he painted 60+ And anybody with one would not part with them.
Sent in by Frank

There are of course many others connected in some way with Derbyshire, including many visitors like Joseph Turner and John Constable. If anyone has any information on Derbyshire artists they would like share with others, please mail us at

Derbyshire Artists : Derbyshire Artists 2 : Derbyshire Artists 3 : Derbyshire Artists 4

painting by George Turner
Painting by George Turner

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