Walter Field brought an element of poetry to his landscape oils and watercolours, through their atmospheric handling and their literary associations. He often worked close to home, on Hampstead Heath, and also along the Thames. Walter Field was born at Windmill Hill, Hampstead, on the northern edge of London, on 1 December 1837, the youngest son of Edwin Wilkins Field, the solicitor and artist, and his second wife, Letitia (née Kinder). During the 1840s, the family moved a few streets east to Squire’s Mount. He was educated at University College School, and then studied art at the Royal Academy Schools, under John Rogers Herbert (painting) and John Pye (engraving). Initially, he worked mainly in oil, producing landscapes, often with literary or historical associations, and occasional portraits.
He exhibited these at the Royal Academy (from 1856), the British Institution and other London venues, and in the provinces, especially Liverpool.
In 1868, Field married Mary Jane (née Cookson), the daughter of a solicitor, and they settled at a house in Christ Church Road, St John, Hampstead. They had seven children. From the mid 1860s, he worked increasingly in watercolour, and developed a skilful technique in order to render landscapes and coastal scenes. He exhibited the results at the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours (being elected an Associate in 1880) and the recently founded Dudley Gallery (becoming an early member). By 1881, he and his family had moved to The Pryors, East Heath Road, formerly the home of Mary Jane’s parents. Dying at his home on 23 December 1901, he was survived by Mary Jane. An exhibition of his oil paintings was held at the galleries of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours in autumn 1902. The remains of his studio were sold at Christie, Manson and Woods during the same season.
Further reading B S Long, rev Anne Pimlott Baker, ‘Field, Walter (1837-1901)’, h C G Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, vol 19, page 489