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Myles Birket Foster RWS (1825-1899)

Myles Birket Foster, RWS (1825-1899)

Myles Birket Foster was one of the most popular artists of the Victorian period, achieving success first as an illustrator and then as an exhibition watercolourist. In both disciplines, he conveyed a gentle naturalism through mastery of technique.

Myles Birket Foster was born at North Shields, Northumberland, on 4 February 1825, the youngest of seven children of a Quaker brewer. When he was five years old, the family moved to London, and his father founded M B Foster & Sons, the largest firm of bottlers in the world. His artistic talents were encouraged at two Quaker boarding schools: Grove House in Tottenham and Isaac Brown’s Academy in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, where he received lessons from Charles Parry. However, despite his desire to be a landscape painter, he had to join the family business, and was allowed to leave only after he had a serious accident with a broken bottle.

At the age of 16, Foster began an apprenticeship in wood engraving with the Northumbrian, Ebenezer Landells, a one-time apprentice of a Foster family friend, Thomas Bewick.

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