David Woodlock was a key figure in the development of a distinct school of Liverpool painters, being a founder member, and later the President, of the Liver Sketching Club, and also a member of the Liverpool Academy of Arts. His own work was at once strongly designed and highly decorative, and ranged from the exquisite cottage gardens for which he is best known to seductive scenes of Venice and Egypt. David Woodlock was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, the son of John Woodlock. He moved to Liverpool at the age of twelve, and became apprenticed to a firm of drapers. He trained at the schools of the Liverpool Academy of Arts, and then under John Finnie at Liverpool School of Art, possibly in the evenings, as he was still working as a draper’s assistant in 1871, the year in which he first exhibited at the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition, held at the Walker Art Gallery. The census for that year records that he was living at 28 Almond Street, as the head of the household, with his widowed father, John, who was working as a coal dealer, a brother, Thomas, who was also a draper’s assistant, and a sister, Margaret.
Woodlock helped found the Liver Sketching Club in 1872 (the year in which he married Marion Theresa Martin), and would also become a member of the Liverpool Academy of Arts.
He began to exhibit in London in 1880, and showed at the Royal Academy of Arts from 1888. Other venues at which he exhibited included the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, the Royal Manchester Institution and the Royal Scottish Academy.
During the late 1880s, Woodlock was living in Sheffield with his wife and four children, and working as a ‘hosier and haberdasher’. In his spare time, he studied at St George’s Museum, Walkley, which had been founded by John Ruskin for the education of local workers.
Having returned to Liverpool by the early 1890s, Woodlock travelled to Venice and North Africa in 1894, and would later visit Holland. In 1897, he became President of the Liver Sketching Club. In the opening decade of the twentieth century, he spent time living in Warwickshire, which inspired some of his most characteristic images of half-timbered cottages set in flower-filled gardens. Back in Liverpool, he took a studio at Canning Chambers, 2 South Street, Liverpool. At the time of the census of 1911, he was living at 46 Nicander Road, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, with his wife and three younger adult children, Winifred, Evangeline and Charles. His eldest child, David, may have migrated to Canada.
At the time of his death on 4 December 1929, David Woodlock was living at 2 Voelas Street, High Park Street, Liverpool.
Further reading: Mary Bennett, Merseyside, Painters, People & Places: Text, Liverpool: Walker Art Gallery, 1978, Page 235