Obituary of Sidney Harold Meteyard by Paul Ripley

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Obituary of Sidney Harold Meteyard

by Paul Ripley


Meteyard was born in Stourbridge in the West Midlands. One can only wonder at the mentality of parents who gave him the Christian names both Sidney and Harold — there was no escape. He was essentially a follower of Edward Burne-Jones , and one of his most artistically successful followers at that. His most famous painting is I am Half Sick of Shadows (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery), and a beautiful and accomplished painting it is, based on Tennyson's poem the Lady of Shallot. Sometimes the gallery actually has this picture out on display, rather than in store with most of its great 19th century collection. The colours in the painting are vivid and rich, the flowers in the foreground are wonderfully well done, as is the deeply coloured drapery of the Lady, who as modelled by the painter's wife Kate. Some time ago I saw a self-portrait of the painter as an earnest and serious young man, in a Sotheby's catalogue. Meteyard had studied at the Birmingham School of art, and subsequently lectured there. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1900 until 1920, when his pictures would have been regarded as extremely old fashioned. Meteyard continued to live in the Birmingham area all his life, and seems to have been rather a diffident individual. Considering he lived until Spring 1947, little is known about him.

Death Notice The Times Tuesday 8th April 1947

METEYARD — On April 4 1947 at Malt House, Cookhill, Alcester, Sidney Harold Meteyard, devoted husband of the late Kate Muriel (née Eadie) in his 80th year. Service at St Paul's Church, Cookhill, on Friday April 11th at 1.45. Interment Broadwood End Cemetery, Birmingham 2.30. Flowers to Bach and Barker, Old Square, Birmingham, not later than 12.00 noon.

Obituary The Birmingham Post Monday April 7th

Mr Sidney Harold Meteyard, Honorary Secretary of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, and formerly for 45 years a member of the teaching staff of the Birmingham Central School of Arts and Crafts died on Good Friday at Malt House Farm, Cookhill near Alcester.

Sidney Harold Meteyard (English, 1868-1947)
Oil on canvas
105.5 x 110.5 cms | 41 1/2 x 43 1/2 ins

An outstanding service Mr Meteyard rendered to Birmingham was to introduce the late Alderman S. Grey, then Lord Mayor, to the late Mr Howard Paget who had intimated to Mr Meteyard — while the latter was working at Elford Curch — his desire to give Elford Hall to Birmingham.

Mr Meteyard was a distinguished craftsman and teacher. He chiefly taught design and life drawing. He designed many war memorials. He executed the Roll of Honour, now in the Hall of Memory, of those from Birmingham who made the ultimate sacrifice in the 1914—1918 war. He did a similar work, now in St Paul's Cathedral for the Royal Engineers. He also executed the Memorial Tablet now in Lichfield Cathedral. He designed stained glass windows for many churches. The panels that were formerly on each side of the organ in the Town Hall, and are now in the Historical Museum of Canon Hill Park, were also his work.

Mr Meteyard was a student of the late Edward R. Taylor , during whose reign the Birmingham School of Art rose to a position of eminence, notably on the craft side. He also studied with the late Mr E. S. Harper , and the late Mr J. V. Jelley at the Central School.

Many tributes have been paid to Mr Meteyard's ability as a teacher, but they were not fewer than the acknowledgements of his kindness and courtesy to many students. In recent years he suffered a great disability through failing eyesight; he had been almost blind for the last year. Mrs Meteyard died a year or so ago. She was a former art — pupil of her husband, and afterwards they worked together, especially on stained glass windows.

My Comments

It is rather surprising to see what little mention this obituary makes of Meteyard the painter in oil and watercolour, but it is fairly easily explained. He was a painter who, unhappily for him was born too late. Artistically he was heavily influenced by Burne-Jones . But he was born over thirty years after the great man, and as he reached his artistic prime his work would have been regarded with a mixture of condescension and contempt. As a result of this Meteyard had little choice but to make his living by teaching, book illustration, and the design of stained-glass windows.

William Holman Hunt (English, 1827-1910)
Oil on canvas , 1889
John William Waterhouse (English, 1849-1917)
Oil on canvas , 1915
100 x 74 cms | 39 1/4 x 29 ins

This is very sad when one realises just how competent a painter he was, and, that he produced at least one masterpiece. That masterpiece was I am Half Sick of Shadows of 1913. This picture is richly coloured — sumptuous is a description used frequently when describing it. I have often seen this work at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, where it has been on loan for some considerable time. The sitter for the Lady was the artist's wife Kate. By the time the painting was completed in 1913, it would already have been regarded as an anachronism by the art establishment, as I mention above. It looks back to works on the same subject by Holman Hunt and Waterhouse , quoting them as it were in the use of the mirror, but in the unusual pose of the model, the vivid colours, the flowers in the foreground, and the intricate embroidery the painter puts his own stamp on the work. And to produce a masterpiece, provide guidance and sympathy to his students, and to lead a thoroughly worthwhile life is more than most human beings achieve.


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Our thanks go to Paul Ripley for kindly allowing us to quote these articles from his website, Victorian Art in Britain, One of the major souces of information on Sindey Harold Meteyard on the internet.