Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books

Saturday, August 11, 2018

W H Overend

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

W.H. Overend was one of the foremost maritime artists of his era, producing paintings and illustrations for periodicals and books, including many children’s books, although his career only lasted for 26 years, being cut short by his premature death at the age of 46.

He was born on 5 October 1851 in Coatham, near Middlesbrough, and baptized, as William Heysham Overend, on 16 November 1851 at St. Cuthbert’s Church, Darlington. His father, James Overend (born in 1821 in Bentham, Yorkshire) was a flax spinner; his mother, Martha née Hodgson (born in Hawkshead, Lancashire in 1824) was the daughter of Braithwaite Hodgson, a wealthy landowner. Prior to having William, James and Marthas had had twin sons, James and John, in 1849.

After living in Priestgate, Darlington, throughout the 1850s, the family moved to 3 Buccleuch Terrace, Hackney, London, with James becoming a railway contractor. In 1863, William spent a year as a day boy at Charterhouse, then in Smithfield, and he then became a pupil at Bruce Castle, a progressive school in Tottenham. He went on to study art under the painter Alexander Davis Cooper, developing a particular interest in maritime subjects.

In the 1871 census, he was living in a small lodging house at 14 Clapton Terrace, Hackney, described as an artist, along with ha relative, Edward Overend, a former flax spinner and now an unemployed naval engineer. He exhibited his first painting at the Royal Academy in 1872 (giving his address as 3 Buccleuch Terrace), going on to exhibit there again in 1880, 1885, 1893 and 1898.

His career, as both an artist and illustrator, developed slowly throughout the second half of the 1870s. He exhibited with the Society of British Artists in 1875 and 1876, and at London’s Dudley Gallery in the same years, and in Liverpool in 1877. In 1875 he began working for The Illustrated London News, a relationship which lasted until his death 23 years later. He also worked with The Penny Illustrated Paper and The Sunday Magazine. His earliest book illustrations appeared in Thomas Frost’s The North Pole, and How Charlie Wilson Discovered It, in 1876.

In the 1881 census, Overend was recorded as a lodger at 64 Guilford Street, Bloomsbury, along with his wife Sophia (recorded as having been born in London in 1851). However, there is no record of a marriage, and there is no trace of Sophia Overend after this. Overend also had a nearby studio at 39A Queen Square.

His career really took off in 1880, when he contributed illustrations to Frederick Whymper’s 4 volume book The Sea: Its Stirring Story of Adventures, Peril and Heroism, published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin. He also began contributing to The Boy’s Own Paper in 1880, continuing to do so until 1894; he also contributed to London Society and St. Nicholas. In 1882 he travelled to New York, having been commissioned to produce a painting celebrating Admiral David Porter’s naval conquest of New Orleans during the American Civil War in 1862. While there, Overend also painted An August Morning with Farragut: The Battle of Mobile Bay, commemorating another Civil War engagement from 1864.

On his return to England he moved into Wychcombe Studios, Belsize Park. He began contributing to a wide range of other periodicals, including The Illustrated Naval and Military Magazine, The Graphic, The Magazine of Art, and The Leisure Hour. In 1884 he began illustrating books for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), mainly children’s books, many of which had a maritime theme. In 1889 he illustrated G.A. Henty’s One of the 28th: A Tale of Waterloo for Blackie & Son – he went on to illustrate three more of Henty’s historical and war novels. He also illustrated a number of boys’ adventure stories by Harry Collingwood, Gordon Stables, John C. Hutcheson and George Manville Fenn. He also illustrated nine of the early seafaring novels of the Irish author Frank Frankfort Moore.

In January 1886 Overend was elected a Member of the Institute of Painters in Oil Colours, and later that year he exhibited at the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts. He also regularly painted in watercolours, and was a member of the Arts Club. In 1887, he painted one of his most famous pictures, “A Football Match: England v Scotland”, portraying a scene from the international played in March the previous year. Two years later, he painted a picture of the 1890 FA Cup Final between Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers, simply called “The Football Match.” Both pictures were subsequently engraved by Lionel Smythe, and prints, in both black and white and colour, were widely sold.

At the time of the 1891 census he was living, as a boarder and with no wife, at 37 Fitzroy Square, St. Pancras, described as an engraver and sculptor, although in truth he was working full-time as an artist and illustrator. He continued contributing to periodicals, now including The English Illustrated Magazine, Chums, The Sunday at Home, The British Workman, Good Words, McClure’s Magazine, The Pall Mall Magazine, Cassell’s Family Magazine, Lika Joko, Young England, The Navy and Army Illustrated, The Rambler and The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News.

In 1892 he illustrated re-issues of three of Herman Melville’s novels (including Moby Dick), and he continued illustrating children’s books, although not all had a naval or historical theme. In 1893 he moved to 17 Southampton Street, Fitzroy Square, and in the same year he produced two sets of cigarette cards, Cinema Stars and Radio Celebrities, for Wills’s Cigarettes. Three years later, he began illustrating 22 re-issues of Frederick Marryat’s novels for George Routledge & Sons, a feat for which he appears to have received no recognition.

He was, however, recognized by the Navy Records Society, who elected him to their Council in 1897.

After completing the illustrations for an edition of Robert Southey’s The Life of Nelson, for Routledge, he died at his home in Southampton Street, on 18 March 1898. The death certificate gave the cause of death as “Locomotor Ataxy” (i.e. a nervous disorder caused by syphilis, which leads to a loss of control of bodily movements – he had apparently suffered from this for 10 years, although it did not seem to affect his ability to work); “Catarrh of the bowels”; and “Albuminuria” (a kidney disease). He was buried in Tottenham Cemetery along with his father and mother (who had died in 1875 and 1886 respectively) and his brother John (who had died in 1861). He left an estate valued at £3,105 (around £330,000 in today’s terms), with probate granted to his other brother James, a civil engineer (who himself died four years later). 

Just over a week after his death, The Army and Navy Gazette (26 March 1898) published a glowing tribute:
By no-one more than by his many friends and admirers in the Navy will the sudden and untimely death of Mr W.H. Overend be deplored. By them he was recognized as the foremost exponent of naval art, the only man who could at once satisfy his brother artists, the student of naval history, and the professional seaman. A Londoner and a Carthusian, his enthusiasm for the sea and sailors was unbounded, and although the pages of the Illustrated London News and numerous books prove his capacity in many other branches of his art, it was in all that concerned shipping and seamen that he was at his best. Working chiefly in black and white his paintings are not many in number, but what he might have accomplished in this direction had he been able to devote more time to it is demonstrated by his spirited pictures, “Farragut at Mobile Bay,” “Boarding a Prize” and “Nelson on the Quarterdeck of the Victory.” His knowledge of the detail of the old ships was unequalled, and his accuracy in matters naval, both archaeological and of the present day, was proverbial. Modest, unassuming, and amiable, no man was more cordially liked by his professional brethren, while the high appreciation in which he was held by those who cherish naval art and literature was shown by his election to the council of the Navy Records Society.


Books illustrated by W.H. Overend
The North Pole, and How Charlie Wilson Discovered It by Thomas Frost, Griffith & Farran, 1876
Gipsy Life by George Smith, Haughton & Co., 1880 (with Herbert Johnson)
The Sea: Its Stitrring Story of Adventure, Peril & Heroism by Frederick Whymper, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1880 (4 vols) (with other artists)
Canal Adventures by Moonlight by George Smith, Hodder & Stoughton, 1881
British Ballads, Old and New, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1881 (part-work) (with other artists)
The Good Ship Barbara: A Story of Two Brothers by Samuel Whitchurch Sadler, S.P.C.K., 1882
The Forging of the Anchor: A Poem by Sir Samuel Ferguson, Casell & Co., 1883 (with other artists)
The Mutiny of the “Albatross” by Frank Frankfort Moore, S.P.C.K., 1884
On Board the “Esmerelda”, or Martin Leigh’s Log: A Sea Story by John C, Hutcheson, Cassell & Co., 1885
The Fate of the “Black Swan”: A Tale of New Guinea by Frank Frankfort Moore, S.P.C.K., 1885
A Woman of Business by M. Bramston, S.P.C.K., 1885
Cairnforth and Sons: A Tale by Helen Shipton, S.P.C.K., 1885
The Children’s Sunday Hour (Sermons) by Benjamin Waugh, William Isbister, 1885 (with other artists)
Will’s Voyages by Frank Frankfort Moore, S.P.C.K., 1886
Dr. Maynard’s Daughter by Laura M. Lane, S.P.C.K., 1886
The Master of the Mine by Robert Buchanan, Chatto & Windus, 1886
Geoffrey Bennett by Sydney Mary Sitwell, S.P.C.K., 1886
Queer Chums: Being a Narrative of a Midshipman’s Adventures and Escapes by Charles H. Eden, S.P.C.K., 1887
Tre, Pol and Pen: A Tale by Frank Frankfort Moore, S.P.C.K., 1887
The Missing Merchantman by Harry Collingwood, Blackie & Son, 1888
Tom’s Adventures in Search of Shadowland by Herbert S. Sweetland, T. Fisher Unwin, 1888
Harry Wilde: A Tale of the Brine and the Breeze by Gordon Stables, S.P.C.K., 1889
Jungle Jack, or To the East after Elephants by Charles H. Eden, S.P.C.K., 1889
A Modern Don Quixote by E.M. Alford, S.P.C.K., 1889
St. Anne’s Court by C.E.M., S.P.C.K., 1889
One of the 28th: A Tale of Waterloo by G.A. Henty, Blackie & Son, 1889
Afloat at Last: A Sailor Boy’s Log of His Life at Sea by John C. Hutcheson, Blackie & Son, 1890
A Chapter of Adventures, or Through the Bombardment of Alexandria by G.A. Henty, Blackie & Son, 1890
Coral and Cocoa-nut: The Cruise of the Yacht “Fire-Fly” to Samoa by Frank Frankfort Moore, S.P.C.K., 1890
Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep: A Tale of the “Salt, Salt Sea” by Gordon Stables, S.P.C.K., 1890
A Message from the Sea by A. Eubule Evans, S.P.C.K., 1890
A History of Modern Europe by C.A. Fyffe, Cassell & Co., 1890 (part-work) (with other artists)
In a Conning Tower, or How I Took H.M.S. “Majestic” Unto Action: A Story of Modern Ironclad Warfare by H.O. Arnold Forster, Cassell & Co., 1891
The Sea Service by Charles N. Robinson, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1891
My Danish Sweetheart by William Clark Russell, George Robertson & Co., 1891
The Ice Prison by Frank Frankfort Moore, S.P.C.K., 1891
Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator, by Edward Whymper, John Murray, 1891 (with other artists)
Gil the Gunner, or The Youngest Officer in the East by George Manville Fenn, S.P.C.K., 1892
From Greenland’s Icy Mountains: A Tale of the Polar Seas by Gordon Stables, S.P.C.K., 1892
Born to Command: A Tale of the Sea and of Sailors by Gordon Stables, S.P.C.K., 1892
Ulf, the Norseman: A Tale of the Fiords by Mary Onley, George Cauldwell, 1892
Sailing and Sealing: A Tale of the North Pacific by Frank Frankfort Moore, S.P.C.K., 1892
Captain Japp, or The Strange Adventures of Willie Gordon by Gordon Stables, S.P.C.K., 1892
A Strange Elopement by William Clark Russell, Macmillan & Co., 1892
Moby Dick, or The Whale by Herman Melville, Dana Estes & Co. (USA), 1892 (re-issue) (with other artists)
White-Jacket: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas by Herman Melville, Dana Estes & Co. (USA) 1892 (re-issue) (with other artists)
Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas by Herman Melville, Dana Estes & Co. (USA) 1892 (re-issue) (with other artists)
From the Bush to the Breakers by Frank Frankfort Moore, S.P.C.K., 1893
Sail-ho! or A Boy at Sea by George Manville Fenn, S.P.C.K., 1893
A Lady Born by Ella Edersheim Overton, S.P.C.K., 1893
The Pirate by Walter Scott, A. & C. Black, 1893 (re-issue)
The Vast Abyss: Being the Story of Tom Blount, His Uncles, and His Cousin Sam by George Manville Fenn, S.P.C.K., 1894
The Cruise of the “Esmerelda” by Harry Collingwood, S.P.C.K., 1894
The Two Clippers by Frank Frankfort Moore, S.P.C.K., 1894
Afterthought House by Evelyn Everett Green, S.P.C.K., 1894
Rick Ralton’s Reconciliation by Edward N. Hoare, S.P.C.K., 1894
Indian Pickles by F.C. Beames, S.P.C.K., 1894
Ralph Clifford: A Tale of Country Life in Virginia After the Civil War by G. Robert Wynne, S.P.C.K., 1894
The Story of the Sea, Cassell & Co., 1894-1895 (part-work) (with other artists)
Two Gallant Rebels: A Story of the Great Struggle in La Vendée by Edgar T. Pickering, Blackie & Son, 1895
The Pirate Slayer: A Story of the West African Coast by Harry Collingwood, S.P.C.K., 1895
Oakshott Castle and the Grange Garden by Henry Kingsley, Ward, Lock & Bowden, 1895
Master Val: A Tale by Nellie Hellis, S.P.C.K., 1895
Roscoria Farm by Mrs Henry Clarke, S.P.C.K., 1895
Jerry and His Dog by Beech Wood, S.P.C.K., 1895
Anchor and Cross by Marion Clifford Butler, S.P.C.K., 1895
Ten Talents by Helen Shipton, S.P.C.K., 1895
Battles of the Nineteenth Century, Cassell & Co., 1895-96 (part-work) (with other artists)
Cassell’s Illustrated History of England, Cassell & Co., 1896-7 (re-issue – 8 vols.) (with other artists)
On the Irrawaddy: A Story of the First Burmese War by G.A. Henty, Blackie & Son, 1896
Through Russian Snows: A Story of Napoleon’s Retreat from Moscow by G.A. Henty, Blackie & Son, 1896
Jack at Sea, or All Work and No Play Made Him a Dull Boy by George Manville Fenn, S.P.C.K., 1896
A Harbour Light by Catherine E. Smith, S.P.C.K., 1896
Devil’s Ford etc. by Bret Harte, Chatto & Windus, 1896
Beside the Guns by Mary Shipley, S.P.C.K., 1897
The Homeward Voyage; A Book of Adventure for Boys by Harry Collingwood, S.P.C.K., 1897
A Seaside Story by Catherine Mary Macsorley, S.P.C.K., 1897
Benin, The City of Blood by Sir Reginald Bacon, E. Arnold, 1897
The Life of Nelson by Robert Southey, George Routledge & Sons, 1898 (re-issue)
How Soldiers Fight by F. Norreys Connell, James Bowden, 1899 (with other artists)
Chimney Corner Stories, McLoughlin Bros. (USA) 1899 (with other artists)

Re-issues of Frederick Marryat’s novels (published by George Routledge & Sons, 1896 onwards)
Masterman Ready, or The Wreck of the Pacific
The King’s Own
Mr Midshipman Easy
Frank Mildmay, or The Naval Officer
Newton Forster, or The Merchant Service
The Little Savage
Jacob Faithful
The Children of the New Forest
Percival Keene
The Pirate and the Three Cutters
Japhet in Search of a Father
Rattlin, the Reefer
Poor Jack
Olla Podrida
Valerie: An Autobiography
The Privateersman: Adventures by Sea and Land, in Civil and Savage Life, One
Hundred Years Ago
The Travels and Adventures of Monsieur Violet in California, Sonora and Western Texas
The Mission, or Scenes in Africa
The Dog Friend or Snarleyyow
The Pacha of Many Tales
The Settlers in Canada
The Phantom Ship

No comments:

Post a Comment