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William Hargreaves Whitehead - searching for Uncle Bill


This is Great Uncle Bill, who would be 127 years old if he was still alive. He was an amazing sculptor, painter, photographer, musician and more.

We got to know Auntie Annie after Bill died. She visited regularly and we had lovely holidays in the Isle of Man, where her huge flat overlooked the beach and Douglas Harbour. In the attic was Bill's studio with a darkroom, cosy library area and large open spaces for his easels and accumulation of paintings, sculptures and materials. In the sitting room were a grand piano, harpsichord and clavichord.


Annie died in 1985, 14 years after Bill and her home had remained a monument to his work. Many years later I found myself in possession of all that remained - some paintings, lots of newspaper clippings and photographs of Bill's work. There isn't much about Annie, which is a bit sad.

I've been meaning to sort it all out for several years, but now I've got started I'm completely fascinated by what I'm finding out and equally frustrated by all the missing information. Some works are really well documented and then I'll find a photograph of a lovely piece of sculpture and there is no record of who it was commissioned by or where it's ended up. It would be so nice to find out more. I thought I would share information from time to time and who knows, someone may suggest a good line of enquiry, or even recognise a work of art.

This is a very large oil painting on board (130 x 90cm plus frame). I love the 1930's Art Deco feel to it, although I have no idea when it was actually painted. For me it has a slightly 'other wordly' vibe and while it was still hung in the sitting room in Douglas Annie told me it was a view of the Fairy Dell in the Isle of Man. I remember two other similar large works, which were subsequently sold in the 1980's. I wonder where they are now?

Sticking with the nature theme I was particularly drawn to this lovely piece of sculpture, which looks as if it is in stone. Unlike the painting I don't have this. I'm guessing that most of Bill's sculptures were commissioned and sold, so the only record I have now is this photograph. It would be great to find out whether it has survived.


I do still have this little book end, carved in wood.

Please get in touch if you have any suggestions for my research, or any comments.


Shall I keep posting information about William Hargreaves Whitehead? I've got lots more to share already!


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