Courbould, Edward Henry

Edward Henry Courbould (1815-1905) was born in London, son of Henry Corbould (who prepared designs for new stamps) and grandson of Richard Corbould, painter. He was a pupil of Henry Sass, and a student at the Royal Academy. 

In 1834, 1835, and 1836 Courbould won gold medals of the Society of Arts, in 1834 with a watercolour of the ‘Fall of Phaethon’, and in the last two years with models of ‘St. George and the Dragon’ and a ‘Chariot Race’, from Homer. His first exhibits in the Royal Academy in 1835 included a model (Cyllarus and Hylonome); he later submitted designs for four pieces of sculpture for Blackfriars Bridge for a London County Council project, unexecuted.

Although he produced some fine paintings in oil, his main work was in watercolour, painted in wonderful colours with intricate detail. His subjects were mainly taken from literature or history. He became a member of the New Watercolour Society and  exhibited there from 1837 to 1898, from which his ‘Plague of London’ (1849) won a competition to decorate the new Palace of Westminster. He also created designs for new stamps (for the first Mauritius stamps), purchased by King George V in 1919 for his philatelic collection.

In 1842 his watercolour of ‘The Woman taken in Adultery’ was purchased by Prince Albert and in 1851 he was appointed drawing master to the children of Queen Victoria. He continued in this role until 1872. Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and other members of the Royal Family acquired many of the artist’s best paintings for the Royal Collection.

After 1872, Corbould supported himself by means of book illustration and by designing for the Illustrated London News and other weekly magazines.

Corbould married three times, in 1839 to Fanny Jemima (who died in 1850); to Anne Middleton Wilson in 1851 (died 1866) and to Anne Melis Sanders in 1868. He had 7 children.

Apart from the royal collections, one of the largest collections of his works was that of George Strutt of Belper. A watercolour ‘Lady Godiva’ went to the National Gallery of New South Wales. Corbould exhibited in all about 250 drawings at the Royal Institute, retiring from active membership in 1898. He also produced designs for book illustration: in the Abbotsford edition of the ‘Waverley Novels’ (Cadell, 1841–6), and in A & C Black's edition of the same works (1852–3); Spenser's ‘Faerie Queene’ and Chaucer's ‘Canterbury Tales’ (Routledge, 1853); Martin Farquhar ‘Tupper's Proverbial Philosophy’ (1854); and Robert Aris Willmott's ‘Poets of the Nineteenth Century’ (1857), and ‘Merrie Days of England’ (1858–9). He worked for periodicals such as London Society, the Churchman's Family Magazine, Cassell's Magazine, and the Illustrated London News. 

Corbould died at Kensington on 18 January 1905. He has a memorial tablet in St Mary Abbots church in Kensington, London. His grandson was the noted designer Leonard Wyburd.