Edward Pryce Owen sketches
Shropshire Archives has recently catalogued and digitised a volume of over 100 sketches by Edward Pryce Owen, [Shropshire Archives ref 6001/201].
They were produced during the 1820s and 30s and show locations in Shropshire, the Peak District and Wales. The subjects are varied, and include landscapes, boats, architecture, figure and animal studies. Many show places of work such as quarries and particularly water mills.
Edward Pryce Owen (1788-1863) was the only son of Archdeacon Hugh Owen who had been vicar of St Julian’s, Shrewsbury from 1791. Like his father, Edward also studied at St John’s College, Cambridge and joined the clergy. In 1823, he became vicar of Wellington and rector of Eyton-upon-the Weald Moors.
During his lifetime, Edward Pryce Owen published various volumes of etchings including “Etchings of Ancient Buildings in Shrewsbury”, 1820-21. He also contributed plates to the two volume “History of Shrewsbury”, published in 1825 by his father, Hugh Owen, and another noted antiquarian, J B Blakeway. Prints of these etchings have been widely reproduced and numerous examples can be seen in Shropshire Archives’ print collection and local studies library.
In 1840, Owen left his living in Shropshire, devoting more time to his art and travelling extensively in Europe. He made numerous sketches in France, Italy, the Levant, Germany and Switzerland, some of which he later produced as etchings and oil paintings. Twelve volumes, including his continental sketches as well scenes of Wales and the Welsh borders are now in the collection of National Library of Wales.
Owen died at Cheltenham in 1863, at the age of 76 years. An article published in the Art-Journal in 1865, with images supplied by his widow, stated, “if Mr Owen had determined to make his works public, they would have been accepted as among the best which this age has produced”. It mentions that although Owen only took up oil painting at the age of fifty, there were about 400 paintings hanging in his residence at the time of his death. “His paintings like the sketches… include almost every type of subject. The English landscapes are principally taken from his own native county, whose picturesque beauty had many charms for his pencil, particularly the scenery round about Wellington, and the villages of Harman, Lillishall, Buildwas on the banks of the Severn, Wenlock Abbey, Coalbrooke Dale, and the Wrekin… and he has left behind him several excellent pictures sketched among the colleries of Ketley”.
We are fortunate to have this volume of sketches here in Shropshire, but I can’t help wondering where Edward Price Owen’s paintings have ended up.
Miscellaneous sketches by the Rev. Edward Pryce Owen, ref 6001/201, can be viewed on the Shropshire Archives online catalogue.