Frederick Lee Briddell (1831 – 1863)
Watercolour over pencil
From one of the Artist’s sketch books dated 1855 to 1856
4” x 6 ¼” (100mm x 160mm)
Frederick Lee Bridell’s was born in Southampton in 1831. His early drawings were noticed by Henry Rose when visiting Bridell’s father who was a carpenter. He introduced him to Edwin Holder, an art dealer to whom he became apprenticed and lived with Holder’s family in Bray, Berkshire. His first painting entered at the Royal Academy was “A Bit in Berkshire” in 1851. In 1853 he went to the Continent and after a short period in Paris where he copied works in the Louvre, he established himself in Munich where he became influenced by the Dutch School copying works by Cuyp, Van der Velde and Berchem. Whilst travelling his paintings became inspired by the landscape of the Tyrol returning to England in 1851 where he completed paintings from his sketches and had many commissions from wealthy clients. He began to exhibit at the Royal Academy, the British Institute, the Suffolk Street Galleries and the Liverpool Academy. Two years later he acquired a patron, the shipping magnate James Wolff who established a “Bridell Gallery” at Bevois Mount, his home where from time to time he allowed visitors to view the paintings and Bridell was able to set up a studio in Highfield Lodge. Freed from financial constraints, in 1858 he travelled to Italy and set up a studio in Rome in 1859. There he met and married the artist Eliza Fox who was well know to influential writers and thinkers of the time. Robert Browning gave her away at the ceremony and the newly weds had their wedding dinner at Elizabeth & Robert Browning’s apartment in Bacca d Leone. Two days later they were painting in their respective studios. Bridell then embarked on his most prolific period in Italy but overwork took a toll on his health and he contracted tuberculosis, painting for long hours, ignoring the illness that was overtaking him. He returned to England in 1863 and died in August of that year in Kensington. He was 32. The quality of his work suggests that, had he lived, his reputation would have stood ever higher throughout Europe. His painting “The Woods of Sweet Chestnut above Barenna, Lake Como” painted in 1860 is in the Tate Gallery. Other examples of his work are in the collection of Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and a number of his paintings are at Southampton City Art Gallery. A book on Frederick Lee Bridell by C Aitchison Hull was published in 2007.