Walter Frederick Roope Tyndale, RBC RI (1855-1943)
Walter Tyndale was one of the most popular and influential topographical watercolourists working at the turn of the century. He was also one of the first to benefit from the printing revolution of 1901 when his publishers, A & C Black, pioneered the use of three colour half-tone plates. The ensuing publishing boom led to a wealth of commissions for Tyndale for illustrated travel books, which took him from the Wessex countryside to Europe and the Far East.
Walter Tyndale was born at the Chateau Schapsdael, near Bruges, on 10 August 1855, to John Nash Tyndale (1814-1868), a Barrister-at-Law in the Middle Temple, and Charlotte Flora Hulme (born 1816). He was educated in Bruges and, at the age of 16, attended drawing classes at the city’s academy. Following the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, the Tyndale family retreated to England and in 1871 settled in Bath.
However, three years later, Walter Tyndale returned to Belgium to study at the Antwerp Academy; his assiduousness resulted in a silver medal for drawing from the antique with promotion to the life class. His ambition led him to Paris, where he studied at the Atelier Bonnat and worked in the studio of the former Antwerp student, Jan van Beers. In 1878, he returned again to England where, two years later, he took a studio in All Souls Place, in London. However, in 1881 he voyaged to the Cape to visit his brother, Arthur, who ran an ostrich farm. Though he married Evelyn Barnard in Bath in 1883 and settled with his family in Haslemere, in Surrey, at the end of the decade, such peripatetic activities would characterise his career.
Tyndale was inspired by Claude Hayes and his friend Helen Allingham to turn exclusively to watercolour, the medium ideally suited to his topographical bent. The range of his travels is indicated by the titles of solo shows that he held at the Dowdeswell Galleries: ‘Cairo, The Lebanon and Damascus’ (1898), ‘Cairo, Jerusalem and Sicily’ (1899), ‘Italy’ (1901) ‘Rothenburg’ (1902). His 1904 show, ‘Fruit and Flower Stalls,’ revealed how he could extend topography into the realms of still life and genre.
In the same year, Tyndale was commissioned by A & C Black to produce a book on ‘Hardy’s Wessex’. The commission resulted in a shift of allegiance: in 1905, the illustrations were exhibited at the Leicester Galleries, and later work, for other publishers, would be shown at the same venue. The most famous of these include Below the Cataracts (1910), An Artist in Egypt (1912) and An Artist in the Riviera (1913). From 1914, he held five solo shows at the Fine Art Society; he also continued to show regularly at the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, which had elected him a member in 1911.
Following the outbreak of the First World War, Tyndale accepted a commission as DA Censor to the British Expeditionary Force and in 1915 sailed to Le Havre. At the age of almost 60, he was introduced as ‘the oldest second lieutenant in the British Army’. By the end of the war, he held the rank of Captain and the position of Head Censor at Boulogne. During a period of leave, in 1918, he was elected an associate member of the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists; he became a full member in 1926. He spent many of his later years in Venice, but died at home at 29 Brunswick Gardens, Kensington, London, on 16 December 1943.