Monday, September 12, 2022

Ken Howard (1932 - 2022)

The death yesterday of Ken Howard OBE RA PPNEAC ROI RBSA RWA HonRBA has been announced. 

He celebrated his 22nd wedding anniversary on Friday 9th September with his partner Dora Bertolutti in Mousehole in Cornwall. Sadly his life ended at Truro Hospital on Sunday 11th September 2022, age 89,  following a very bad fall at his home in Mousehole in Cornwall.

Anybody who has been visiting exhibitions in London over the last two decades will have come across the artwork of Ken Howard on multiple occasions. Despite being represented by a leading art gallery in Bond Street gallery he regularly exhibited with art societies - most of which he was a member of.
For me painting is about three things. It is about revelation, communication and celebration. By revelation I mean giving people a way of seeing, revealing the world around them in a way they have never seen before, opening their eyes.
Ken Howard website

He also taught and mentored a number of artists - many of whom are active in art societies and  doing well! (see the end of this post for some of their tributes)

Self Portrait with Merida (oil on canvas) by Ken Howard

Below you can find an overview of the life and work of Ken Howard - including:
  • the timeline of his life
  • awards and honours
  • publications about him and his work - and by him
  • membership of art societies
  • commissions
  • art collections
I'll add in links to other obituaries and tributes about him at the end as I find them.

Ken Howard - a timeline

Ken Howard at 22, Ken Howard at 80

Early Life

  • 1932 Ken Howard born in London. He lived in Alder Grove, Cricklewood and went to Kilburn Grammar School
  • 1953-55 National Service in the Royal Marines

Art Education

  • 1949-53 Studied at the Hornsey School of Art
As a student he participated regularly in the Hampstead open air art exhibitions and was commissioned to paint watercolours of local buildings and features including Keats House and Whitestone Pond.
  • 1955-58 Studied at the Royal College of Art
  • 1958-59 British Council Scholarship to Florence


  • 1973 and 1979 - Appointed official artist in Ireland by the Imperial War Museum 
  • 2004-2012 - Elected Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy Schools
  • 2007 - Appointed Freeman of the City of London, Liveryman Painter Stainers
  • 2017 - Appointed a Patron of the Turner's House Trust

Notable Exhibitions

  • 1952 First exhibited at the Royal Academy
  • 1959 First exhibited at the New English Art Club
  • First exhibited at Richard Green at 147 New Bond Street
Ken Howard painting June Mendoza painting Ken by June Mendoza OBE RP ROI

Art Societies

One of the notable aspects of Ken Howard was his wide and active involvement with various art societies. At one point he was a member of a large number by competitive entry and election. Others elected him as an Honorary Member as they liked his work so much!
  • 1962 Elected member of the New English Art Club
  • 1966 Elected member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters
  • 1979 Elected member of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours
  • 1981 Elected member of the Royal West of England Academy
  • 1983 Associate Member of the Royal Academy
  • 1988 Honorary Member of the Royal Society of British Artists
  • Honorary Member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters
  • 1991 Member of the Royal Academy
  • 1998-2005 - President of the New English Art Club
  • 2006 - Elected fellow of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters
  • 2008 - Honorary Member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art
Ken Howard was considered by many to be an old favourite and stalwart of more than one society within the the world of the Federation of British Artists.

Latterly he began to become a Judge of many of the art competitions that such member artists entered.

Light effects I-VI, Calle Larga Galliana
a series of six oil paintings,

copyright Ken Howard 
exhibited at NEAC in 2009

He was so very popular that this led to a number of artists who sought to emulate him and his art. Towards the end of his career, I commented at one exhibition in 2018
I'm beginning to think that the successors to Ken Howard in terms of scope and style - are now outpainting Ken Howard....
but it took a very long time before that happened!

(Some of his) Prizes, Awards and Honours

  • First prize Lord Mayor’s Art Award
  • 1969 First prize Arundel Art Centre
  • 1978 Prize winner John Moores Exhibition
  • Prize winner John Laing Exhibition
  • 1982 First prize Hunting Group Awards
  • Prize winner Royal West of England Academy
  • 1985 Critics’ prize, Sparkasse Karlsruhe
  • 1986 Prize winner New English Art Club Centenary Exhibition
  • 2001 - Critics’ prize New English Art Club 2001
  • 2010 - Awarded OBE for services to Art in the Queen’s Birthday Honours

Ken Howard - Publications

Ken Howard is referenced in many publications - books, art journals and newspapers - on the topic of painting. This list is from his little bit out of date website (with a few additions by me). I own some of them as I found his approach to painting very enlightening when I first started to learn more about art.

He also produced a number of DVDs.

Books of Paintings and Practice - about or by Ken Howard

Thank you Ken for all you did for me. Taught me to work with tones and values and the inspiration of light. The light which now seems to have gone out our lives. RIP dear man. A true Painter in every sense of the word.
Max Hale
“It is the only place I know where one can stand on the spot and see a composition at every turn.”

Instruction Books by Ken Howard or including contributions by Ken Howard

Compendium Books - including paintings by Ken Howard


  • My life inside | The Guardian (2002) - about Ken Howard's studio 
  • Artist Ken Howard has an enviable life. He loves his work, which has placed him at the heart of Britain's art world, and lives not in some threadbare garret, but in a glorious restored artists' studio in one of the best parts of town
  • Britain's Paintings by Neil MacGregor, (Director of the National Gallery) Daily Telegraph.
  • Artist Ken Howard: 'London is my wife, Venice is my mistress | Hampstead and Highgate Express (2016)
he does not regard himself as a landscape painter but rather “a vertical, horizontal and linear painter”

Ken Howard - Favourite Subjects

Ken Howard's favourite subjects - according to his website.

Ken Howard had four favourite subjects which he stuck to, more or less all the time, in later years. These were
  • studio pictures - frequently painted looking at a subject in a mirror which has been square up - which accounts for why his size and proportion was always spot on! Models were features of his art practice and materials in the studio and nudes in the studio - often painted contre jour. His studio used to belong to Sir William Orpen.
  • the universal aspect which united his landscapes were the tones and colour of light found in different places he knew very well. These were:
    • Cornwall coastal scenes - one of his homes was in Mousehole, in Cornwall
    • Venice - another of his homes was in Venice
    • London - I've seen very many large oil paintings of central London in various seasons
Looking at his paintings, you sense he is keenly aware of this good fortune. The bulk of his work is optimistic, some might say saccharine: oils and watercolours of pleasant daylight scenes. And there are often highly personal motifs. He depicts, as if they were trophies, Cornish beaches (he has a house in Mousehole), Venetian city scenes (there's a home there, too) and nudes in his London studio (a dominant theme). Yet, for Howard, the artist's model is not a sufficient subject alone. Instead, he shows us the whole studio as well, with its wooden floors, chandeliers and traditional aspect towards the cold, consistent northern light.
That said he also painted other topics - notably war paintings and Switzerland.

Painting of the Oriel Studio by Ken Howard OBE RA.
Chair and mirror belonged to Sir William Orpen who used to own the same studio
Exhibited at "Pure Gold": an exhibition celebrating 50 years of the FBA.

Ken Howard - Commissions

Besides private commissions he also completed commissions for various institutions - including:

  • The Drapers Company
  • The Haberdashers Company
  • States of Jersey
  • HQ British Army of the Rhine
  • United Nations Forces in Cyprus
  • The Stock Exchange, London
  • Lloyds of London
  • The Royal Hospital, Chelsea
  • Banque Paribas

Ken Howard - Works in Public Collections

Works by Ken Howard can be seen in the following public collections:
  • Royal Academy of Arts, London
  • Plymouth City Art Gallery
  • Sheffield Art Gallery
  • Hove Museum and Art Gallery
  • Guildhall Art Gallery, London
  • Ulster Museum and Art Gallery
  • The Imperial War Museum, London
  • The National Army Museum, London
The latter are associated with his recording of the army's involvement in 'the troubles' in Northern Ireland

One Man Exhibitions in Art Galleries

Main Galleries
  • New Grafton Gallery (1971; 1974, 1976, 1978-79, 1981, 1984-85, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000)
  • Richard Green, Bond Street, London (2002-2007; 2009; 2011-16)
Other Exhibitions
  • Plymouth Art Centre 1955
  • John Whibley Gallery, London (1966; 1968)
  • Plymouth Art Gallery – Retrospective Exhibition 1978
  • New Metropole, Folkestone 1979 
  • St Helier Gallery 1980
  • Hong Kong Art Centre
  • Nicosia 1982
  • Delhi 1983
  • Linton Court Gallery (1986) 
  • Lowndes Lodge Gallery, London (1987, 1989, 1991, 1992)
  • Brian Sinfield Gallery, Gloucestershire
  • The Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town and Johannesburg (1998)

Ken Howard - Reference

Past blog posts about Ken Howard

Ken Howard - Tributes

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