Edwin Hayes, Marine Painter

(b. 1820, d. 1904)

Marine Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Edwin Hayes. Photograph.

He was born in Bristol in 1820, but spent his youth and early life in Dublin where his father, Charles Hayes, who had left Bristol about 1833, kept the Bristol and Glasgow Hotel and Tavern in Marlborough Street. He was a student in the Dublin Society's Schools, and from the very first his ambition was to be a marine painter. The proximity of his home to the quays and docks no doubt gave him his love for the sea and shipping. Thoroughly in earnest in his work he made the sea his studio, and in a little ten-ton yacht he spent his time sailing about Dublin Bay and even as far south as Cork. Resolved to see something more of a sailor's life he shipped as a steward's boy on board a vessel bound for America, and in his outward and return voyages had very rough experiences. For some weeks on the homeward voyage he, day and night, took his turn at the pumps. Such early experiences stood him in good stead in his future art, enabling him in his pictures to delineate the sea and shipping with a sincerity and truth born of experience. He commenced to exhibit at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1842, and for the next ten years resided in Dublin practising his art. In 1852 he removed to London, and on his arrival apprenticed himself to Telbin the scene painter. Under him he worked at the scenery of the new Adelphi and other theatres.

His first venture as an exhibitor in London was at the British Institution in 1854, where he had a "View of the River Liffey and the Custom House." In the following year he sent his first contribution to the Royal Academy, and for forty-nine years, with but a few breaks, he was a regular exhibitor there. He also exhibited at the Society of British Artists and at the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-colours, of which he became an Associate in 1860 and a Member in 1863. He continued to contribute to the Royal Hibernian Academy and was elected an Associate in 1853 and a Member in 1871. Hayes painted the shores and harbours of the English coast, the south coast fishing boats and French and Dutch luggers, and his visits to the coasts of France, Spain and Italy yielded him many subjects for his brush. His knowledge of the sea enabled him to paint it in all its moods and to put on canvas the ever-changing aspects of sky and ocean. If his art is of the older school of marine painters and a little conventional, his pictures please by a truth and correctness of detail, a sense of composition and an attractive sincerity. An exhibition of his works, comprising one hundred and fifty pictures and sketches, the result of work done in many places during twenty years, was held at Messrs. Dowdeswells, in Bond Street, in March, 1888. Hayes worked at his profession until the last. He had expressed a wish to die with his brush in his hand; and so it happened, for on the 7th November, 1904, as he stood before his easel in his house, No. 20 Aldridge Road Villas, Bayswater, he was seized with heart failure, and in a few hours passed away in his eighty-fifth year.

Examples of his art are to be found in the Galleries at Leeds, Cardiff and Leicester, and also in the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Galleries. His fine work, "Saved," which was awarded a medal at Chicago, is at Montreal. His "Sunset at Sea," exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1894, was bought by the Chantrey Trustees for £175, and is now in the National Gallery of British Art. The National Gallery of Ireland does not possess any examples of his work.

Edwin Hayes, by his wife Ellen Brisco, was father of Claude Hayes, a well-known living artist, a Member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-colours.

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