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The Elwells

An established and renowned woodcarver, James Elwell was involved with the Museum and Art Gallery from the very beginning. He was a distinguished civic figure, serving as Town Councillor and Mayor of Beverley in 1900 and 1902. As Chairman of the Library Committee, he organised the inaugural exhibition of paintings in 1910. The exhibition featured a selection of works on loan from local collectors and a considerable number painted by his talented son, Fred.

Born in Beverley in 1870, Fred Elwell was initially trained in draughtsmanship by his father. Evidently talented, he began his academic training at the Lincoln School of Art and later attended the academies in Antwerp and Paris. With local support Fred’s artistic career flourished and when the Museum and Art Gallery opened in 1910 the opening exhibition was dominated by his work.

Fred was elected to full membership of the Royal Academy in 1938.

Royal Academy (external website)

In 1914, Fred married Mary Dawson Holmes, a fellow artist. She too was involved with the gallery from the beginning, and donated a considerable number of her works to the collection. He left the gallery many of paintings upon his death in 1958, Beverley Art Gallery now holds the largest collection of paintings by Fred and Mary Dawson Elwell.

Another contributor at the Royal Academy was Fred's nephew, Kenneth. Having received instruction from his uncle his work demonstrated great promise. Sadly, Kenneth Elwell never realised his artistic potential as he died on his return from war in 1945.

Paintings from the Elwell collection can be viewed using East Riding Treasures Online website and entering the search term Elwell in the search box.

East Riding Treasures Online (external East Riding website)