Will C Penn

About This Project

During our celebrations to mark the 90th birthday of the gallery, the Williamson hosts an exhibition looking in greater depth at the artwork and influence of Will Charles Penn 1877-1968 – Painter, Printmaker and Teacher.

In our special year, the gallery wishes to note that 2018 also marks the 50th anniversary of the death of a local artist who made a significant contribution to the artistic life of the area – Will C Penn.

William Charles Penn was born and raised in London, received a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy Schools and also studied in Paris. He exhibited from the beginning of the 20th century and was soon elected to the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. He served with distinction in the First World War, receiving the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry, and narrowly avoided injury that would probably have ruined his painting career. The surgeon who treated Penn, realised he was an artist and saved his hand and his livelihood.

He taught several generations of painters at Liverpool School of Art between 1911 and 1946 and dominated the art scene in Wirral by force of his personality, in effect founding the Wirral Society of Arts in 1948 and became their first president. For many years, he was the portrait painter of choice in the Merseyside area and town halls and board rooms around the region contain his work. He stayed in Birkenhead because of his family, but it is widely thought that if he had moved back to London he would have become one of the great names of British painting.

Penn was a consummate artist, turning his hand with considerable skill to anything he wished to address. Earlier this year in January, we will looked at his oil paintings, chiefly family subjects and commissioned portraits. In this exhibition, we look at his prints, his watercolours as well as his oils and the influence on the art scene of Merseyside.

Kitchen, Still Life, Will C Penn

Kitchen, Still Life, Will C Penn

To view more of his work online from our collection and from other public collections across Britain, go to the fabulous ART UK website.

Please note that the galleries are open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, but staff shortages may necessitate early closure of some rooms at the end of the day.

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Exhibitions, What’s On