Autumn Evening on a Mountain Road by W D Barker RCA
Research by Marjorie Gregson
This painting was originally attributed to
'W D Barger' but research failed to find
any artist of that name.
Consideration was given as to whether the
artist might be W D Barker. A comparison
of the signature on our painting was made with
one of the many Barker works which frequently
appear at auction and proved to be a match.
Further research revealed that in 1887 the Royal Cambrian Academy
Exhibition Catalogue offered a picture entitled A Tranquil Autumn Evening
on the Mountains by W D Barker priced at £10.10s.
William Dean Barker was born in 1830 in Salford, Lancashire. His early artistic career began in Manchester as a pupil at the School of Art. He was a member of the Manchester Academy and a contemporary of Clarence H Waite and George Hayes.
He gave up a lucrative position as chief designer in a well known firm of Manchester printers in order to follow in the pursuit of landscape art. In addition to his artistic attainments he was a good musician and entertained at concerts with his fine baritone voice.
Barker settled in the pretty Welsh village of Trefriw in a villa named Plas Celyn. He had a keen appreciation of the lovely valleys and mountains and was prolific in his output. In 1881 he was invited to hold an exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, where over 300 pieces, in both oil and watercolour, were shown. He was one of the “first thirty one founder members” of The Royal Cambrian Academy and exhibited on many occasions.
His long residence in Wales enabled him to acquire an intimate knowledge of wild birds and he contributed to various newspapers and magazines on the subject of ornithology.
However, in pursuing his art, Barker would be working in the open in all kinds of inclement weather and this may have been the cause of his sudden, and untimely death, at the age of 58. He was buried in the cemetery at Trefriw, his funeral being attended by many members of the RCA.
Stephen Sartin Catalogue (2001)
Liverpool Mercury, 24 September 1888
North Wales Chronicle, 29 September 1888
Maurice Greenwood RCA