Myles Birket Foster England

2-4-1825 North Shields, ENG – 3-27-1899 Weybridge, ENG

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Foster, Myles Birket

Myles Birket Foster was born in North Shields, England of a primarily Quaker family, but his family moved south to London in 1830, where his father founded M. B. Foster & sons a successful beer-bottling company. However, noticing his talent for art, his father secured an apprenticeship with the notable wood engraver, Ebenezer Landells.

On leaving Landells' employ, he continued to produce work for the Illustrated London News and the Illustrated London Almanack. He also found work as a book illustrator and, during the 1850s, trained himself to paint in watercolors. His illustrations of Longfellow’s Evangeline and books of poetry by other contemporaries were a great success, and he quickly became a successful artist.

Myles Birket Foster traveled widely, painting the countryside around Scotland, the Rhine Valley, the Swiss lakes and in Italy, especially Venice. In 1863 he moved to Witley, near Godalming in Surrey where he had a house ("The Hill") built. Being friendly with Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, he had the house decorated and furnished in contemporary style.

Although he had painted great numbers of landscape scenes from Scotland to the Mediterranean, it was after moving to Witley that Myles Birket Foster produced the works for which he is best known, a sentimentalized view of the contemporary English countryside. Although criticized for their idealized view of rural life, they were recognized for their detail and execution. Birket Foster's work (along with that of other artists) was used by Cadburys, the chocolate manufacturer, on the cover of their chocolate boxes from the 1860s onwards. His name is also to be found as Myles Birkett Foster.

Movement: Victorian Classicism
Influences: Ebenezer Landells
Traveled: Germany, Scotland, Italy, Switzerland
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