Woolmer, Alfred Joseph (1805–1892)

Woolmer, Alfred Joseph (1805–1892)

Alfred Joseph Woolmer was an extremely prolific artist in 19th-century Britain specialising in literary and historical paintings. Exhibiting throughout his life a total of 355 works, Woolmer is a fascinating artist with an eclectic, unique style.

His work is a blend of both the popular romantic styles of the time and the 18th-century rococo style. Inspired by French rococo artist Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), Woolmer depicts pleasant, picturesque scenes of men and women frolicking in the countryside. The romantic predilection to depict emotion and expression comes through in his landscapes.

He was much praised for his imaginative and evocative atmospheres, imbuing the literary scenes of Shakespeare and his historical depictions with heightened drama and a sense of mysticism.

Whilst Woolmer did face some criticism for failing to extend such emotion to the people in his paintings, they remain poised and elegant, his success is evident in his prolific exhibiting. He was also elected into the Society of British Artists.

Although not much is known about his personal life, he was evidently able to dedicate a large amount of time to his craft. The tributes he made to Rembrandt, Titian, and Watteau, painting scenes of their studios, demonstrate knowledge and a deep appreciation for the artistic legacy of his predecessors.

It is thought that he had a daughter, Marion Woolmer (fl. 1871-1874), for whom some paintings survive, and therefore it could be assumed that she was taught by her father. Whatever the case, Woolmer’s works are a distinctive and noteworthy legacy.


Born in Exeter or Essex.


Exhibited prolifically at the Royal Academy.


Elected into the Society of British Artists.


Died in London.

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