Portrait Artist Of The Past: April

Firstly, thanks so much to all of you that entered last month’s competition to paint the Welsh artist, Gwen John (1876-1939). It was truly a celebration of the depth of feeling there is for this well-loved figure.

For April’s inspiration, we’re trying something a little different and giving you a photograph to paint from.

Samuel Coleridge-TaylorDownload a larger image

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was a gifted English composer that worked tirelessly amid a society in which he was never fully accepted.

He was born in London to Alice Hare Martin, an English woman, and Dr Daniel Peter Hughes Taylor from Sierra Leone. Alice’s father was a talented violinist and taught Samuel to play from an early age. It was a skill that he grasped rapidly as by the age of 15 he was studying at the Royal College of Music.

Upon completing his degree, Samuel was appointed a professor at the Crystal Palace School of Music and also began conducting the orchestra at the Croydon Conservatoire.

As a gentleman of dual heritage during the late 19th-century, life would’ve been particularly challenging to say the very least. In 1893, his marriage to Jessie Walmisley almost didn’t proceed due to objections from her parents. But after much discussion, they reluctantly attended the ceremony.

The couple went on to have a son, Hiawatha, named after a Native American, and a daughter, Gwendolyn Avril.

Towards the turn of the century, Samuel had established his reputation and his talent was unquestionable. And in 1904, he undertook his first tour of the United States where he was received by President Roosevelt at the White House.

However, despite his ability, he never managed to secure any adequate financial gains and as such suffered a great deal of stress. At just 37, he died of pneumonia, which many felt was brought on by his situation.

Samuel was laid to rest at Bandon Hill Cemetery in the London Borough of Sutton and his headstone includes a tribute from his friend, Alfred Noyes.

“Too young to die: his great simplicity, his happy courage in an alien world, his gentleness, made all that knew him love him.”

On a personal note, I find it galling that there are hardly any portraits of this talented composer. He was spoken about in the same breath as Edward Elgar, yet his name has been lost over time.

So please help us to create a lasting image of Samuel by taking part in this month's competition. Or even better, let’s create 100 images.

You can find out more about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor on Wikipedia and there's a small portrait of him as a child at the National Portrait Gallery.

Competition Rules: Every month, we’re asking artists to create a version of our chosen portrait in their own style. It should be an interpretation, rather than a faithful reproduction, so do feel free to express yourself.

To enter, simply post your submission on Instagram and tag it with #portraitartistofthepast. Please do so by the last day of each month. We’ll then select a winner and showcase their entry on our website and social media. Every winning portrait will also be displayed for one month in our gallery (once open later this year).

April’s competition will run from the 1st of April to the 30th of April, with the winner being announced on Monday the 3rd of May.

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