Queen Victoria and Hull – The Redmores

Posted: 28th November 2022

Humber Museums Partnership - Queen Victoria and Hull – The Redmores

As part of the Ferens Art Gallery winter exhibition, Queen Victoria and Hull, Hull and District History Research Group have been researching Victorian Hull. This blog is the latest in a series revealing the hidden stories of Victorians from Hull.

Following a very interesting visit to the Victorian cemetery on Spring Bank West I decided to look at the life of Hull born marine artist Henry Redmore (1820-1887) who is buried there. His gravestone bears a, now quite indistinct, engraving of a palette and brushes. I was not aware at that time that Henry’s son, Edward King Redmore (1860-1941) had also been a marine artist.

Henry was the son of James Redmore and his wife Mary, formerly Wilkinson. The earliest address I can find for James and Mary is 9 Cottingham Terrace. This terrace ran at the side of Cottingham Drain. The houses are long gone of course but by walking down Charles Street towards Waterloo Street the position of the former drain is easily identified. Henry’s father, James is listed as a carpenter but he was employed as an engineer at a mustard mill in Reform Street, this is in the Charles Street area also.

Henry Redmore trained as a marine engineer from the age of 14 so became familiar with ships and the sea which would no doubt help him in his future career, however when he married in 1844 he decided to obtain a land based job and worked at Cato Mill near North Bridge, this was an oil crushing mill. Four years later Henry is listed in the trade directory as a painter living at Ann’s Place, Cottingham Terrace. The couple had two daughters who died at an early age and two sons, John Markham Redmore and Edward King Redmore. King incidentally was the surname of Henry’s brother in law. Henry Redmore’s artistic career progressed and in later years he is listed as taking a prominent role in an exhibition in George Street where he is described as the celebrated marine artist of the town.

So how did Redmore gain his artistic skills? Well, John Ward, probably the most famous marine artist from this area decided in later life to tutor prospective artists and it is thought that Henry Redmore took advantage of this and became a student of Ward in the 1840s. Unfortunately John Ward became a victim of the cholera epidemic in 1849 and died at the age of 51. Ward and Redmore both feature in Hull Maritime Museum which of course is closed until 2025. Henry Redmore painted many scenes featuring the Humber but he is also thought to have visited Holland, easy to get to from Hull, as he has painted several Dutch scenes. One of his best paintings is arguably the wreck of the Coupland, This incident took place in 1851. The Coupland ran aground on rocks in Scarborough Bay and the lifeboat, Amelia went to give assistance. Unfortunately all members of the lifeboat crew were lost. A 16 year old boy called Oliver Sarony and one of the sons of the Duke of St Albans risked their lives trying to save the lifeboatmen. The Duke’s son tragically died in the attempt but the boy survived and later became a renowned photographer.

In 1856 Henry and his wife Martha were living in Francis St but moved to Norfolk St shortly afterwards. In 1863 they moved to West Hull where their address was 6 Regent St.

I am not an expert on art but I know that artists quite often employed another artist to assist in the preparation of the canvas and it is likely that Redmore initially gained experience this way; he is reputed to have assisted an artist named Ralph Stubbs jnr, no relation to the famous George Stubbs as far as I am aware. Later artist Samuel Spence is thought to have helped in the preparation of Redmore’s paintings.

Henry Redmore’s wife passed away in her thirties and Henry later married widow, Ann Hopwood who was the daughter of a spirit merchant. Ann appears to have been comfortably off and Henry moved into her house at 163 Coltman St. Coltman St of course, at that time was a good address to have and this house still exists and has a plaque to Henry Redmore on it. There is a letter written by Henry from this address in 1881 to an unknown client. In it he informs the client that he has finished one of the paintings commissioned and the second is well on the way to being finished. Interestingly Henry states that a pair of paintings like these; unfortunately there is no indication of size, will normally be sold for £30 to a dealer. In another letter he sends a receipt for £20 to someone who has purchased one of his paintings. I have looked at recent prices for Redmore paintings on various auction sites and these vary of course but for £1,500 to £2,000 you can buy a Redmore original.

Towards the end of his life, Redmore tended to paint rather quaint beach scenes in scenic coastal towns such as Sleights and Robin Hood’s Bay. When he died in 1887 he left an estate valued at £981.16s.1p. The list of mourners at Henry’s funeral included a silk merchant from London who was said to have paid £300 for two of Henry’s paintings. Henry’s widow, Ann passed away in 1898. She was still living at 163 Coltman St at the time.

I had not been aware that Henry’s son, Edward was also a marine artist, however he followed in his father’s footsteps and painted similar scenes. One of his paintings, Homeward Bound was on show at an exhibition in Hull in 1881. This was priced at £4.10s, including the frame and glass. An Edward Redmore painting was recently sold by auction at a guide price of £500 to £1,000 but I have found some with a much lower guide price and some with a higher one. Edward is not nearly as famous as his father but many of his paintings are for sale in auctions so he was obviously a prolific artist, though several of his paintings have been described as being repetitive. Edward was always very fond of alcohol and became an alcoholic. In later life he would quickly produce a drawing or painting which he would give to anyone who would keep him supplied with drinks. Ironically the exhibition mentioned above was held at Hull Temperance Club! Despite his drinking habits Edward lived to the age of 81.

Paintings by Henry and Edward Redmore can be seen upstairs in the Ferens alongside those by several other marine artists such as John Ward. And if you normally only visit the downstairs area of the Ferens I would definitely advise you to take a trip upstairs.

Margaret Justice.

You can visit the Queen Victoria and Hull exhibition from 20 October 2022 until 19 February 2023.