BRIERLY, Sir Oswald Walters (1817–1894), marine painter & naval engineer. ALS to W.H.Dixon 1873

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BRIERLY, Sir Oswald Walters (1817–1894), marine painter and naval engineer. Autograph letter signed to William Hepworth Dixon, 4 sides of a bifolium 8vo, 38 Ampthill Square, Hampstead Road, 5th April 1873, informing him that he has just completed a marine painting  “illustrating one of the Events in your interesting life of Blake (a commission) as one of my drawings for the Exhibition of the old Society of Painters in water colours this year, and I am about to paint another of the arrival of Blake off the mouth of the Tager when he went in pursuit of Prince Rupert”, saying that he should have liked to have consulted him on details connected with the pictures, and asking if he could view them between the 7th ad 14th after which they will go to the gallery – “I am generally at home all day, but as I am about to do some drawings for the Duke of Edinborough [sic] who may wish to see me with reference to them I may have to go out but if I knew any time that there was a probability of your being able to call I would take care to be at home”. Reverse of last leaf rather grubby with remains of mounting to the margin and paper edges browned on a fold.

Oswald Brierly combined extensive experience at sea with significant ability as a marine painter specialising in watercolours. Queen Victoria commissioned paintings from him of the Spithead Review of 1856, the first of over 150 works by Brierly which became part of the Royal Collection. During the 1860s he accompanied Prince Alfred (created duke of Edinburgh in May 1866) at sea on several voyages, and produced many watercolours of these expeditions. In 1874 he was appointed Marine Painter to the Queen.

His correspondent William Hepworth Dixon (1821–1879) was a journalist and writer. In the early 1870s when the letter was written, Dixon was serving on the London School Board and was also engaged in travels to Russia, Switzerland and Spain. Dixon’s life of Blake had been published in 1852 in his book Robert Blake, Admiral and General at Sea, Based on Family and State Papers. On 2 October 1874 Dixon's house near Regent's Park was completely wrecked by an explosion of gunpowder on the Regent's Canal. (ODNB)

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