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c. 1895 England
Offered by Baggott Church Street Ltd
WB Ref: 15670
Born in Melbourne, Australia, the son of a Gentleman, John West moved back to the UK in 1863. He was schooled in London and joined the 13th Light Infantry, Prince Albert’s Somersetshire Regiment thereafter. Based in Devonport, his first overseas posting, as Lieutenant, was in the Colony of Natal in South Eastern Africa until 1879. Pencil drawings in his earliest sketchpad appear to show evidence of his time with the Zulu people. As he rose through the ranks to Captain in the following years, he became a highly respected military instructor in London, travelling extensively both privately and with the army. As Lieutenant Colonel, he received the South Africa Medal with the Cape Colony clasp following his active service between 1899 and 1902 in the second Boer War.
Born West, he was later to attach his mother’s maiden name – Marshall - to his own, becoming Marshall-West at some point in the mid 1890s. Occupying significant social and military status, John West married Julia, the widow of Colonel Hugh Millett, in 1887. His only child, Evelyn Lovett, was born 2 years later and he adopted the daughter of his wife, Edith Maude Millett, who was to become a highly celebrated actress in the last decade of the 19th century. John William Henry Marshall-West died in 1928 in Surrey.
Although he was not trained as an artist, his work shows great mastery of watercolour and the use and mixing of colour. He demonstrates significant competence at the impression of space, movement and perspective and depicts water and sky with considerable realism. Buildings and sailing boats are executed with architectural and graphic accuracy and his depiction of characters appears to capture personality and spirit. He came from an artistic background, his mother being a capable artist and his aunt, Emily Mary Marshall, producing a considerable number of watercolours of significant merit. His brother, Algernon Edward West, pursued an education in art by attending Art College in London at the age of 25.