NEW Temporary Exhibition – The Bird Paintings

George Edward Collins (1880-1968)

G.E. Collins in 1927
George Edward Collins in 1927. Photo courtesy of The Collins Family

The second of our Temporary Exhibitions for 2014 concentrated on one member of a renowned English family of artists,  not only of local importance, but of national standing, who lived and worked in and around Dorking from 1876.

G.E. Collins
George Edward Collins in 1916. Photo courtesy of The Collins Family

George Edward Collins was the third son of Charles Collins (1851-1921), an established artist specialising in landscape painting who had settled in Dorking in about 1876. He started painting with his father and studied at Epsom and Lambeth Schools of Art. He briefly followed his father as art master at Dorking High School but in 1910 he moved to the Royal Grammar School at Guildford where he was the art master until 1947.

Collins Family Gathering. Photo courtesy of the Collins Family

George exhibited his pictures in a number of galleries, especially at the beginning of his career, but most of his work has remained with his family.   It was therefore a great pleasure to be lent the impressive watercolour of The Ugly Duckling by his relatives who have fond memories of ‘Uncle Edward at family get-togethers with his plus-fours and his long grey beard.’

Mallards – G. E. Collins – DOK:2147:07 – Watercolour © Dorking Museum

He was mainly a watercolourist, etcher and book illustrator, who specialised in natural history subjects, and his published book illustrations range from those for The Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne by Gilbert White (1911) to Wildlife in a Southern County by Richard Jeffries (1937).  He concentrated especially upon the wild birds of England, depicting his subjects with great accuracy, strong compositions and always in naturalistic settings. After his retirement he sketched, painted and wrote particularly about the countryside around his house in Peaslake.  Dorking Museum has published some of his principal writings in a charming book, The Tillingbourne Valley, which is illustrated with many of his etchings.

George, Helen, Patrick and Clara Collins. Photo courtesy of The Collins Family

During the First World War he served with a searchlight battery and in 1916 he married Clara Caroline Perrin (1879-1960) from North Wales. She was also an artist and the daughter of an artist. They had two children, Patrick and Helen, neither of whom married. Dorking Museum has a few paintings by Helen Collins.

Chicken, Ducks and Turkey
The Ugly Duckling by George Edward Collins

Many of his paintings have remained with his family.  It was therefore a great pleasure for the Museum to be lent the impressive watercolour of The Ugly Duckling by his relatives.  The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1906 and has probably not been seen in public since. 

The exhibition ran from Thursday 24th April to Saturday 19th July 2014.

The Tillingbourne Valley by George E. Collins

This book is 108 pages with black and white drawings. Reprinted in 2015.

Priced at £7.50.

Buy from our online shop here.