Philip Connard, CVO, RA, (born Southport, 24 March 1875, died Twickenham 8 December 1958) rose from humble origins to become an eminent artist in oils and watercolours whose commissions brought him royal recognition.
Connard left school with the minimum state education and went into the building trade as a house painter. He attended evening classes in art and won a scholarship in textile design to the Royal College of Art in London. There he won a prize of £100 which enabled him to go to Paris to study, although he did not stay there as long as he had hoped his money would allow him to. He returned to London where he worked as an illustrator before obtaining a position at the Lambeth School of Art where he taught artists such as Edmund Blampied. While teaching at Lambeth he submitted pictures to the New English Art Club and became known as a painter in oils of romantic decorative landscapes with figures such as pierettes or birds. His compositions were said to be ‘graceful, airy and highly individual in conception’.
Although he was nearly 40 years old when the First World War broke out, Connard volunteered as a private, learned to ride, and fought in France as a member of a gun team in the Royal Field Artillery. He reached the rank of Captain before being invalided out because of severe shell shock. He was later appointed an official war artist to the Royal Navy and painted the surrender of the German ship SMS Goeben and the Zeebrugge raid. This work for the Navy is in the Imperial War Museum in London.
Connard was given a number of important decorative commissions: murals at Windsor Castle; two panels for a ballroom in New Delhi; and a large panel on the subject of England for the Cunard liner, RMS Queen Mary. His work can be found in the Tate Gallery, London; the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, the National Gallery of Australia, the Royal Academy, London, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; and the National Museum of Wales.
Connard was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1918 and became a full Academician in 1925. He was Keeper of the Royal Academy school, the principal tutor, from 1945 to 1949. He was also a full member of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours. In 1950 he was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. Connard, meanwhile, did not forget his home town: he was the founding President of The Southport Palette Club, established in 1921 to hold annual exhibitions of the work of local artists, and he retained this position until his death in 1958.
Connard married twice: his first wife, Mary Collyer, with whom he had two daughters, died in 1927; in 1933 he married Georgina Yorke, whom he depicted in many of his later paintings of interiors.
- Anonymous (1958). Mr. Philip Connard. An accomplished painter. The Times December 9, 1958,No. 54,329, p 16
- Tennyson, Charles (1958). Mr. Philip Connard. The Times December 15, 1958, No. 54,334, p 14
- Southport Palette Club: 36th Annual Exhibition, Nov. 9th - Dec. 6th, 1959 [exhibition catalogue with notice of Philip Connard's death].
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