Gulley RWA, Catherine B (1869-1962)

Gulley RWA, Catherine B (1869-1962)

Catherine B Gulley RWA was an accomplished British painter of genre, still lifes and portraits.

Predominantly known for her scenes, Gulley’s oeuvre is brimming with heartwarming depictions of women in the home. It’s a veritable cornucopia of flora, music, birds, and beautiful garments. She was born, raised and trained in Bristol where she spent the vast majority of her life - exhibiting frequently at the Royal West of England Academy. But she also had several works shown at London’s Royal Academy.

Her watercolours are rendered with the utmost care and underpinned by an advanced ability for drawing. Light is carefully observed as it cascades through tall sash windows. While the fine nuances of drapery are described perfectly.

Here, in this charming piece from around 1910, we see a seated young lady holding a classical guitar. She’s wearing a beautiful white dress with a blue sash and resting her foot on a stool upholstered in turquoise. The interior feels a little neoclassical and perhaps dates to the Regency period. It’s a fine home.

Catherine B Gulley

During the 1930s, Gulley was mentioned frequently by the press in connection with her portraiture. One reporter referred to her “tiny attractive studio at the top of one of the houses in Arlington Villas” and how she always had “a number of delightful paintings in the Royal West of England Academy Exhibition”. She produced numerous portraits during this period including for local dignitaries. She also completed an ‘Infant Samuel’ for a church in Wales, in which the “background of very wonderful blue” closely resembled “the vivid yet soft shade of that colour which early Italian artists loved so dearly.”

Gulley ultimately became a member of the Royal West of England Academy, spending the latter stages of her life in Clifton. She’s represented in the Royal Collection Trust and at Bristol City Museum.


Royal Academy, Royal West of England Academy, Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, Royal Society of Artists in Birmingham, Manchester City Art Gallery.

Public Collections

Royal Collection Trust, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.



Born in Bristol, England, to Henry James Gulley, a grocer, tea broker and merchant, and Emma Matilda Gulley (nee Sandison).


Lived in Holmer, Herefordshire, with her parents and siblings.


Lived in Southampton with her parents and siblings.

C. 1888

Enrolled at the Bristol School of Science and Art.


Lived in Westbury, Gloucestershire, while studying.


Mentioned in the Clifton Society.

“Miss Catherine B. Gulley, a pupil and assistant of the Bristol School of Science and Art, has been appointed as one of her Majesty's examiners for Art at South Kensington by the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education. Miss Gulley proceeds at once to London to take up the duties of her office.”


Lived in Bristol. Occupation recorded as ‘Artist’.


Debuted at the Royal Academy with ‘Finishing Touches’.


Lived in Siston, Somerset with her parents. Occupation recorded as ‘Artist’.


Lived in Bristol.

C. 1923

Supplied a miniature watercolour for Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House.


Mentioned in the Western Daily Press.

“A very pleasant visit is ensured to all the friends of Miss Catherine Gulley, RW.A., who go and see her in her tiny attractive studio at the top of one of the houses in Arlington Villas. The long climb up the staircase to this beautifully light spot is well repaid by a glimpse at the various portraits and miniatures which Miss Gulley has to show. This talented artist is very well-known in Bristol and always has a number of delightful paintings in the Royal West of England Academy Exhibition. For some years Miss Gulley limited her work almost entirely to miniatures, but so many demanded that she should do real portrait painting, that now her time is amply filled by that branch of work, and any spare moments in studies of still life the colouring of the latter being a joy to the eye.

Miss Gulley has just finished a beautiful painting of the ‘Infant Samuel’ which eventually is destined to hang in a church in Wales. It shows the child kneeling in the foreground, his little face and figure clearly outlined against a background of very wonderful blue, closely resembling the vivid yet soft shade of that colour which early Italian artists loved so dearly. The model for this picture by the way was a young gentleman of four, blest with the bluest eyes, the fairest curly hair, and an expression of supreme innocence.”


Mentioned in the Western Daily Press.

“Mr and Mrs Cave of Downleaze, Stoke Bishop, must indeed feel proud of the very charming and life-like painting which Miss Catherine Gulley, R.W.A., well known to many people here, has just completed of their little son ‘Colin.’ They already have a delightful portrait of ‘Patsy,’ their little girl, painted when she was the same age, two months old, and the two pictures will make a delightful pair. No-one could fail to fall to the charms of Colin's portrait.

Miss Gulley has made it appear so amazingly real and natural that one almost feels able to talk to the blue-eyed baby lying snugly in his shawl, his head resting on a little pillow beautifully embroidered with sprays of flowers. Patsy's portrait makes a very attractive contrast, as her eyes are very bright and dark, and she has a mass of dark brown hair. Mrs Cave, before her marriage, was Miss Blossom Yates, daughter of Canon and Mrs Yates, of Leigh Woods. Miss Gulley's portraits always give pleasure to visitors at the Royal West of England Academy, where she has had five or six particularly beautiful ones exhibited this year.”

“A Visitor to the studio of Miss Catherine Gulley, R.W.A the well-known local artist, in Arlington Villas, is always assured a pleasant half-hour. Her pictures, six altogether, are just ready for this year's Exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy and some people may like to hear in advance what they may look forward to seeing from her brush. Her most interesting picture, and the one on which Miss Gulley has spent the greatest amount of time, is a portrait of Mrs Reginald Cave, the elder daughter of Canon and Mrs Yates, of Leigh Woods.

The artist is fortunate in having had the opportunity to reproduce the wonderful fair colouring of Mrs Cave, and the sitter is equally lucky in having found an artist who is so ably fit to do so. Mrs Cave is painted in the dress she wore for her wedding, which is made of a wonderful old brocade and is actually a family heirloom. A lace fichu round the neck gives a very softening effect to the head and shoulders. The red-gold of the hair is admirably painted, and, as usual, Miss Gulley has given the portrait a very artistic and suitable background. When the exhibition is over here, the artist hopes to submit this portrait to the Hanging Committee of the Royal Academy in London.”


Lived in Plympton St Mary, Devon, with several of her siblings. Occupation recorded as ‘Artist’.

Became a member of the Royal West of England Academy.


Died in Clifton, Gloucestershire.

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