George Horton Exhibition

I am a Newcastle University student working towards a MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies: Curatorship.As part of my studies, I am on an eight-week work placement at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, where I will be developing two art exhibitions using their art collection. These exhibitions are scheduled to be displayed sometime in 2015.

The first thing I needed to do was to familiarise myself with South Shields’ collection by spending some time trawling through the works in its store. The time spent doing this really helped me to begin to identify the collection’s strengths and allowed me to form some exhibition ideas.

Whilst I was digging around the store, I came across a box labelled ‘George Horton’. Upon opening the box I was impressed with the quality of his etchings. I was particularly drawn by the strong contrasts of black and white, and variety of mark in “Winter and Thaw”.

G5753 reducedTWCMS: G5753 Winter and Thaw by George Horton from the South Shields Museum and Art Gallery collection.

Prior to this, like many people, I did not recognise Horton’s name or his work. He was a North Shields born artist, who spent a lot of his life living in South Shields. In the early 1900s, he was considered by many to be the most renowned artist of the Northeast, in spite of never receiving a single formal art lesson. However due to the fickle nature of the art world and watercolours of coastal scenes becoming considered ‘unfashionable’ here in England; as a result his work was largely ignored and then forgotten.

Horton was also an awesome watercolourist.

In Holland, where he made many sketching trips, he refined his technique of combining bursts of colour with large areas of grey which almost became his trademark. Horton could achieve a greater variety in his greys than many artists could across their whole palette.

G5767 reducedTWCMS: G5767 North Shields Fish Quay by George Horton from the South Shields Museum and Art Gallery collection.

Horton had a fascinating life. By using information from research materials from South Shields, North Shields Central Library and Laing Art Gallery I have managed to form a detailed idea of Horton, both as a man and an artist. I hope to be able to communicate this through the exhibition’s interpretation and to put together something which will do him justice.

5 Responses to George Horton Exhibition

  1. Christopher Allard says:

    I have a copy of the etching illustrated above but it is described as “Winter” and its foreground is somewhat darker than your version. In the same hand is the name George Horton and we have always assumed that these pencil comments were by the artist (the signature looks like the signature visible in your illustration). The etching belonged originally to my maternal grandfather who knew Augustus John in the early 20th century. Is it possible he could have also known George Horton?

  2. Mark Taylor says:


    George Edward Horton was my great grandmother Emily Horton’s older brother and I believe that my 83 year old mother (Vesta Patricia Taylor nee Blackett) is the oldest living descendant of the Hortons. We were contacted some years ago by a museum in the north east who were planning to exhibit several of the works by George Edward but I understand that the exhibition never went ahead due to funding restrictions. I would be interested to learn more about George Edward and his work if you are able to forward details to me. Many thanks. Mark Taylor

    • I don’t know a lot about George Horton, other than he was my grandmother’s brother. My grandmother became Emily Jane Blackett when she married and my mother’s name was Gladys Blackett. I had an Uncle Horton and an Uncle Vesta, also Auntie May, Uncle Philip and Uncle Joe, all Blackett, of course. I am 77 years old now but can remember a picture on the wall of a galleon, when I was young, which I believe was one of George Horton’s. All my family were artistic and musical but unfortunately I am the only surviving member of the family and can’t help you any further,
      I was born in North Shields in 1943 and have lived in Devon for fifty years.

  3. peter wyss says:

    My late father attended the Southend School of Art in the late 1940’s and maybe before that time, got to know George Horton quite well.
    When my father passed away several years away now . I was left with a Horton water colour which George gave to my father. To this end and to cut a long story short I have since researched his connection with Southend-on-sea , essex.,and with my father.
    I know that this is a bit late in the day since I have only just come across your correspondence. I wondered, if you are still interested in the subject,
    could you contact me, so that I can give you the full story. You might be able to help with some missing links about George and my painting.

  4. David Young, of the Old Low Light, North Shields, is planning an exhibition of George Edward HORTON’S work this summer, 2019 An e-mail from him alerted me this very evening. As I am a Mancunian living in Shetland, where the North Shields artist, Victor Noble RAINBIRD, has a stained-glass window in the church in the tiny island of Papa Stour, (population 6, at present, I believe.)

    Google him via Victor Noble Rainbird. Note, also, that the Director of the National Gellery of Ireland is one Sean Rainbird, who bears a great physical resemblance to VNR. Elisabeth Nicolson, 16.01 2019

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