Christine swaps paint brush for pen to write book on famous Whitby artist

Christine Pybus in her home studio''w130814
Christine Pybus in her home studio''w130814

A Whitby artist has swapped her paintbrush for a pen to write a book on acclaimed watercolourist George Weatherill.

His landscape paintings of Whitby area’s moors and coast remain as much in demand now, as they did during his lifetime in the 1800s and are still avidly collected today attracting high bids at auction.

Now acclaimed artist Christine Pybus, who herself paints scenes of the local area in both oil and watercolour, has penned a book on George and his paintings which has taken her almost two years to compile and many years of research.

She said information on George has been hard to find as he was a notoriously modest man. The illustrated book features the story of his life and includes notes on his four children all of whom were to varying degrees artists in their own right as well as exploring his style of painting methods and techniques using her artist’s eye.

She said: “I have collected, bought and sold antique paintings for many years now, including when possible buying Weatherill’s family paintings.

“Having known and loved the Weatherill pictures in the Pannett Gallery since I was young I was delighted when I had the privilege to be the joint curator of the gallery for a year.

“Sadly the pressure of my painting work meant that I eventually had to leave it, as it currently is, in the capable hands of Helen Berry. “I regularly get enquires about the Weatherill family and their work and have over perhaps 20 years amassed a folder full of information about them.

“Having decided to put together all my notes, I started to dig deeper, particularly in 19th century books on Whitby and unearthed a considerable amount of information which in many cases tied together facts that I already had.”

Christine, who was elected a member of the Fylingdales Group of Artists in 2000 and is listed in the book Who’s Who in Art, put her book together with help from Whitby’s Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby Town Council and Whitby Lit & Phil Society as well as input from many other people.

She recently returned from a painting trip to Australia and New Zealand and has a busy exhibition programme planned for 2013, including in July at Henley Royal Regatta where she has been an invited artist for the past nine years.

Hailed as the Turner of the North, George was the second son of a Yorkshire farmer and was born at Cliff House in Staithes. An intelligent child, he spent much of his spare time watching fishermen and drawing in the sand.

It was decided that he was best suited to a clerical career and he was apprenticed to Garbutt, a solicitor based in Guisborough and later in Yarm.

During his apprenticeship he became acquainted with George Haydock Dodgson, a local painter, who helped develop his artistic qualities.

At the age of 20, he moved to Whitby to work for Henry Butcher and later joined the staff of bankers Messrs Simpson and Chapman. He painted whenever possible with picturesque composition of local villages and towns. Eventually, he was appointed chief cashier, which allowed him to make occasional visits to London with the opportunity to visit the Tate and National Galleries.

George became inspired by the work of JMW Turner and made a number of engravings of his work. He taught himself Italian so he could read the Italian works on the Florentine, Venetian and Roman Schools.

George Weatherill His Family and Their Art is on sale at Whitby Bookshop in Church Street, Holman’s in Skinner Street and the Pannett Art Gallery priced at £9.50.

The Whitby Gazette has three copies of the book to give away to lucky readers. To be in with a chance of winning answer this question: Where was George Weatherill born?

Deadline for entries is Wednesday 6 March.

Email your answer to; text to 63333 starting your message with WGENTRY (text charge 50p plus your standard charge); or fill in the coupon and send it to George Weatherill competition, Whitby Gazette, 17-18 Bridge Street, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 4BG. Terms and conditions can be found at: