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 Mortimer Luddington Menpes  (1855/60 - 1938)

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Lived/Active: Australia/England      Known for: painting, engraving, illustration

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Benares, Blue is the Sky
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Mortimer Luddington Menpes (February 22, 1855 – April 1, 1938), was an artist and engraver, author, printmaker and illustrator.

Menpes was born in Port Adelaide, South Australia, the second son of property developer James Menpes, who with his wife, Ann, had settled in Australia in 1839.

Educated at a private school, he attended classes at the Adelaide School of Design, but his formal art training began at the School of Art in London in 1878, after his family had moved back to England in 1875.  Edward Poynter was a fellow student at the school.  Menpes first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1880, and, over the following 20 years, 35 of his paintings and etchings were shown at the Academy.

Menpes became a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (RE) in 1881, Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) in 1885, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) in 1897 and Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) in 1899.

Menpes set off on a sketching tour of Brittany, France in 1880 and thereby met James McNeill Whistler, becoming his pupil and at one stage sharing a flat with him at Cheyne Walk on the Embankment in London.  Here he was taught etching by Whistler, whose influence, together with that of Japanese design, is evident in his later work.

His 1887 trip to Japan led to his first one-man exhibition at Dowdeswell's Gallery in London. Menpes bought a property at 25 Cadogan Gardens in Sloane Square in 1888 and decorated it in the Japanese style.  Whistler and Menpes quarreled in 1888 over the interior design of the house, which Whistler felt was a brazen copying of his own ideas. The house was sold in 1900, and Menpes retired to Kent.

In 1900, after the outbreak of the Boer War, Menpes was sent to South Africa as a war artist for the weekly "Black and White" illustrated magazine. With the war's end in 1902 he travelled widely, visiting Burma, Egypt, France, India, Italy, Japan, Kashmir, Mexico, Morocco, and Spain, and many of his illustrations were published in travel books by A & C Black. His book on the Delhi Durbar was an illustrated record of the commemoration in Delhi of the coronation of King Edward VII (of Great Britain).

In 1875, Menpes married fellow Australian Rosa Mary Grosse (d. 23 Aug 1936) in London. They produced a son, Mortimer James (b. 1879) and two daughters, Rose Maud Goodwin and Dorothy Whistler, godchild of James NcNeill Whistler.

For the last 30 years of his life, Menpes retired to Iris Court, Pangbourne from where he managed his Purley-on-Thames business, "Menpes Fruit Farms". He built 40 large greenhouses in which to grow carnations and 8 cottages to accommodate the farm workers. He died in Pangbourne in 1938.

Source:
wikipedia.org

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