Completed British 19th C, except portraits, Maritime Subjects, South East England: Artists and Subjects 13 Was this 'Coast Scene with Shipping' exhibited in 1877 as a view of Seaford Bay?

Topic: Subject or sitter

Could this be a view of the entrance to Newhaven harbour from off Seaford?

The collection note:

'We do have a note on the file stating: 'Could this be Exh. RA 1877 no.55 'After a Gale - Seaford Bay'?'

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Jade Audrey King,

The title of this work has been changed to 'After a Gale – Seaford Bay'. The PCF's artist record has also been updated with regards to the dates of William Henry Mason (1838–1929).

This amend will appear on the new version of the Your Paintings website in January 2016. Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.


Jade Audrey King,

If any contributors can provide more information about the work exhibited at the RA in 1877 it would be appreciated – as would confirmation of William Henry Mason's birth and death dates. PCF currently list this artist as 'active 1858–1917'. Is this the same William Henry Mason (1860–1930)?

Cliff Thornton,

William Henry Mason was born in Chichester in the first quarter of 1838. He appears in the 1871 and 1881 census with the occupation of artist (landscape) living in Arundel and Hurstpierpoint. But in subsequent census returns he avoids describing his occupation as an artist and is recorded as "living on own means". He was 73 in the 1911 census, but I have been unable to find his death date.

This is just an initial comment until such time as I have been able to check this more fully. I remember more than thirty years ago undertaking some research into W H Mason as he was a Sussex artist who lived in the 1860s in Chichester, then in Arundel in the 1870s, moving to Malvern Lodge in Westbrooke, Worthing in the 1880s. According to Kelly's Directory he was still living at that address in Worthing in 1905. In addition to showing his work at the RA and elsewhere in London, he exhibited regularly at the annual shows held at Brighton Art Gallery in the 1870s and 1880s. His subjects were landscapes, river and coastal scenes, virtually all of Sussex, plus views of Spithead and one scene in Cornwall. To confuse matters, at the same time there was another artist also W H Mason who exhibited at the same shows at the Royal Academy, The Dudley Gallery etc and he lived in the 1880s at 'Morton, East Retford in Nottinghamshire. According to the RA Exhibitors volumes up to 1904 the 'East Retford' W H Mason's full names were William Henry Mason. I am not sure that I ever established what the full names were of the 'Sussex' W H Mason but as far as I can determine he didn't exhibit under the name William, just using his initials. In regard to the location of the painting the topography is similar to that at Newhaven although the cliffs depicted to the west of the town are a little higher than I recall. The opinion of a local resident would be most helpful.

Cliff Thornton,

This is a view of the piers at Newhaven, as the wall of Newhaven Fort (built in the 1860s) can be seen on the right of the image. "After a gale" seems an appropriate title in view of the broken mast on the smaller vessel.

John Covell,

It certainly looks like Seaford Bay and Newhaven, and I am sure one of the local Fishermen from Hastings would recognise the view well, apart from that Grant Waters has added all the background information that is relevant to W.H. Mason.

On the evidence so far presented I would be happy to accept that the view is of Newhaven and likely to be the RA exhibit of 1877(no.55 'After a Gale - Seaford Bay').

Can we get any further on distinguishing the two artists W.H. Mason (1838- after 1911) of Sussex and William Henry Mason who had the Nottinghamshire address?

Cliff Thornton,

The other William Henry Mason (1847-1936) was brought up at Eaton Hall, East Retford, the son of a wealthy landowner/magistrate. He became a barrister and by 1881 had returned to East Retford where his father had moved into Morton Hall (not "Maston Hall" which appears in Graves'). Following his father's death he appears to have inherited Morton Hall and lived there until his death in 1936, aged 90 yrs. The work of the two artists is often confused by galleries, e.g.
Attributed to the Sussex artist, even though the label on the reverse shows it was by the East Retford artist.

Osmund Bullock,

William Henry Mason of Sussex (latterly of Malvern Lodge, Worthing) died 13 Jan 1929. See attached probate calendar entry.

He had no children, and probate was granted to his nephew Charles Hayley Mason, the son of his younger brother Charles Alfred. William Henry was baptised 27 Feb 1838 at Saint Andrew, Chichester, the son of William Hayley Mason (1811-1865), a successful and well-known printer and bookseller of East Street, Chichester. William Hayley Mason was named for the poet and biographer William Hayley (who in 1790 was offered and refused the Poet Laureateship). Hayley was a friend and frequent correspondent of Mason's father (another William) and mother - the elder Mason was Hayley's printer/publisher. After passing on the business to his son, the elder (first) William Mason (1783-1866) became an Alderman and Mayor (1846) of Chichester.

William Henry also appears in the 1861 Census living with his brother Charles in lodgings at St Pancras (London), his occupation given as 'Artist Painter'. However, as Cliff has noted, in later (1891 onwards) census returns William Henry ceases to describe himself as an artist - and though he exhibited as late as 1888, even in 1865, in his father's entry in the National Probate Calendars, he is just described as 'gentleman'. The family appear to have been long established, and owners of property in and around Chichester.

This seems an impressively rapid case of done and dusted in terms of sorting out the 'who's who', as well as the identity of the view, for which admiring thanks all round. So we have a what appears to be a painting titled 'After a Gale- Seaford Bay' [Sussex, looking towards Newhaven]-apparently the one exh. RA 1877- by William Henry Mason of Chichester (1838-1929) who was principally a coastal marine painter: this is probably the best way to distinguish him in terms of origin-allowing he moved around , but have also clarified the identity of a younger but contemporary William Henry Mason, barrister and landscape painter (1847-1936) of East Retford, Notts - both by curious coincidence of similar propertied background and following similar career trajectories, but otherwise unconnected. Potted biographies in a suitably retrievable location would be useful....

Museums Sheffield,

Thank you for everyone's input on this discussion. We have now updated the title of the painting to 'After a Gale- Seaford Bay'.
While our records already listed this artist as William Henry Mason (1838-1929) it is very interesting and useful to hear about both these artists.