Orphans signed and dated 'W. FRANK CALDERON -93-' (centre left) oil on canvas 20 x 42 in.(51 x 107 cm.)
The Hon. E.St.V.Parker-Jervis; Private collection, UK.
Exhibited: Royal Academy 1892, No. 459.
William Frank Calderon was the third son of the artist Philip Hermogenes Calderon (1833-1898). The Calderon household in St Johns Wood echoed with the latest artistic innovations; regular visitors included such luminaries as Sir John Everett Millais, PRA, William Frederick Yeames and Stacy Marks.
At the age of 14, the young Calderon won the Trevelyan Goodall Scholarship and attended the Slade School, studying under Alphonse Legros. Among his contemporaries were Henry Scott Tuke and Thomas Cooper Gotch. Success came early to Calderon as he sold the first picture he exhibited at the Royal Academy, Feeding the hungry to Queen Victoria for £12; he was just sixteen. He continued to exhibit regularly at the Academy summer shows for forty-one years and never had a picture rejected.
In 1892 Calderon married Ethel Armstead, the third daughter of the painter and sculptor, Henry Hugh Armstead, RA (1828-1925) and two years later he founded his school of Animal Painting in Baker Street. Working regularly with live models, the studio bustled with horses, dogs, cats, goats and the occasional donkey. At one time, he had five regular dog models, including a fox terrier, an Irish wolfhound, a foxhound and a Russian wolfhound. Students were also encouraged to visit the Zoological Gardens and sketch the animals in natural poses and study the anatomy of their chosen subject.
Among the students were Lionel Edwards and Cecil Aldin and it was there that Aldin met Patrick, Calderons Irish wolfhound, and the model for Orphans. This meeting resulted in Aldins lifelong love for that particularly breed.
Calderon also set up a Summer school in West Sussex which became a focal point for animal painters who called there both to hone their skills under his guidance and enjoy some time in the country.
The upheaval caused by the outbreak of the First World War resulted in the London school moving to Kensington and the summer classes moving around the south of the country. In a career which spanned over sixty years, Calderon was awarded a Gold Medal at the Paris Salon in 1906 and his 1898 Burlington House exhibit entitled The Crest of the Hill was purchased by the Queensland National Gallery in Brisbane.
Calderon was also a fine portrait painter, but was at his most accomplished as painter of animals. He had a unique ability to imbue animals with a sense of majesty and often featured gentle giants, large beasts sympathetically rendered. This ability is clearly demonstrated in Orphans, as the puppies are shown under the watchful eye of the wolfhound. Calderon used his own Irish Wolfhound Patrick as the model for this picture; his faithful companion can be seen in the accompanying photograph as the dog sits at the feet of his master.
Following a brief sojourn in Bordighera, Italy, the Calderon family returned to England in 1931 and settled in Seaton, Devon. where Calderon died on April 23, 1943.
We are grateful to Roy Heron for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.