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Mary Vermuyden Wheelhouse (1867-1947)


Mary Vermuyden Wheelhouse (1867-1947)

The artist, Mary Vermuyden Wheelhouse, developed three successful overlapping careers through the first half of the twentieth century, the first as a painter in oil and watercolour, the second as a book illustrator, and the third as a toymaker, especially of wooden dolls.

Mary Vermuyden Wheelhouse was born in Leeds, in Yorkshire, on 12 December 1867. She was the youngest of three daughters of Claudius Galen Wheelhouse FRCS JP (1826-1909), a surgeon at the Leeds Public Dispensary who would become president of the council of the British Medical Association, and Agnes Caroline Cowell (1824-1911), a daughter of the Reverend Joseph Cowell. Her creativity is likely to have been encouraged, as her father had been active as a photographer during the 1850s, while one of her sisters, Ethel Hamerton Wheelhouse (born 1865) grew up to become a professional violinist. The family had addresses in Leeds at both 42 Park Square and 4 Hillary Place, and also at Cliff Point, Queen Street, Filey.

Wheelhouse studied under Albert Strange at Scarborough School of Art, during the mid 1890s. While there, she lived at 29c St Nicholas Street, and began to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts, in London, and also in York.

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