John Henry Henshall, RWS MAFA (1856-1928) John Henry Henshall specialised in large-scale genre scenes in watercolour in an absorbing realistic mode. His favourite themes included the contrast of youth and old age, as in the present example.
John Henry Henshall was born in Manchester on 11 April 1856, the son of Benjamin Henshall, a pawnbroker and money lender. Initially studying at Manchester School of Art under William Jabez Muckley, he moved to London in March 1876 and took up a place at the National Art Training School. However, after just a term, he transferred to the Royal Academy Schools, on the recommendation of Edward Poynter. In 1880, the RA Schools awarded him a silver medal for a Painting of a Head from the Life.
Becoming a figure and portrait painter in oil and especially watercolour, Henshall produced often large-scale genre and historical scenes in a realist mode.
He began exhibiting from as early as 1878, and especially at the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of British Artists and the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours (of which he became an associate in 1883, a full member in 1897). His work also appeared in provincial exhibitions and abroad, and he won several international medals.
During the 1880s and early 1890s, Henshall lived at a number of London addresses. However, in 1895, he went back to Lancashire and settled in Southport (possibly as the result of marriage). While there, he continued to exhibit regularly and, in 1901, became a member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. Then, in 1904, he returned south, and lived at ‘Torghatten’, a house on the Pinner Road, Harrow, and also at ‘The Cottage’, Bosham. He is likely to have been the Henry Henshall who illustrated K H MacDermott’s Bosham Church: Its History and Antiquities, which appeared in 1911. In April 1912, the Leicester Galleries mounted a solo show of his work, entitled, ‘Watercolours of Cottage Folk’. He died on 18 November 1928.