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William Lee Hankey (1869-1952)

William Lee Hankey RWS,RI,ROI,RE,NS was a British artist specialising in landscapes and portraits of pastoral life, particularly mothers with young children.

William Lee Hankey was born in Chester and worked as a designer after leaving school. He studied art in the evenings at the Chester School of Art then at the Royal College of Art. Later, in Paris, he became influenced by the work of Jules Bastien-Lepage, who also painted rustic scenes depicted in a realistic but sentimental style.

He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1896 and was President of the London Sketch Club from 1902 to 1904. He stayed in France in the early 1900s, painting many of his works in Brittany and Normandy, where he depicted a peasant lifestyle which was already disappearing in England.

Writing in The Studio (Vol. XXXVI, No. 154, Jan. 1906) A.L. Baldry commented that He is in his water-colours an absolute purist; he paints entirely with transparent pigments, and never has recourse to opaque colours; his brushwork is broad and confident – free, on the one hand, from affectation of showy cleverness, and, on the other, from niggling minuteness or over-elaboration; and he does not insist, as is the fashion with many present-day painters, upon lowness of tone.

But it was Hankey's black and white and coloured etchings of the people of Etaples which gained him a reputation as one of the most gifted of the figurative printmakers working in original drypoint during the first thirty years of the 20th century.

In Britain Hankey had been associated with the Newlyn School, a group of English artists based in the titular village in Cornwall who were themselves influenced by the romantic poets such as Wordsworth and Keats.

Paintings for sale by William Lee Hankey:

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