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Telephone: 0131 226 6932 or 0845 388 5879
46 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3NH, Scotland (TSOH)

Biography and current catalogue for

Henry Walter Sweet (1889-1949) 

This lovely and romantic etching was made by Walter Henry Sweet, after a painting by John Shapland, in the earlier part of his career. It shows ‘The Bridge of Sighs’ in Venice. The artists worked together frequently and the etching is signed in pencil by both Sweet and Shapland.

The Bridge of Sighs is one of the most romantic spots in Venice and its history is marked by artistic influence, through generations of Venetian and English architects, artists, writers and one famous lover. It is said that if you manage to kiss your lover while gliding under the bridge on gondola at sunset, to the sound of chiming bells of St Mark’s Square, you will be granted eternal love and happiness. Nobody knowns where this legend originates, but it is said that Casanova used this spot to seduces his many lovers. Undoubtedly it is still very busy underneath the bridge at sunset in the current era.

Walter Henry Sweet (1889-1949) was a country artist who painted street scenes, moorland scenes and seascape. He was born on 11th April 1889 and studied at Exeter School of Art under the guidance of his friend John Shapland, for which he would later make many etchings. He worked locally and exhibited at the Devon and Exeter Annual Exhibition at the Elands Gallery in the early 1900’s. During the First World War he joined the Devonshire Regiment and saw active service abroad. It was said he suffered severely mentally during and after the war which impacted his life and work, not in the least because it halted his artistic career in the prime of his life. After the war he moved to Dundee and was employed by James Valentine and Sons as a commercial illustrator. He married and had two sons one of whom studied at the Dundee College of art. He died in Dundee on 12th February 1949 aged 53. His later work is characterized by the use of soft pinks and greens as well as the more dominant light brown and shows a lovely and romantic image of the British coast and countryside.

John Shapland (1865-1929) was a painter of seascapes and landscapes mainly in watercolour but occasionally in oil. He was the principle of the Exeter School of Art from 1899 to 1913 where he worked together with Walter Henry Sweet. He himself was a pupil of James Bruce Birkmyer at the same school. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, Paris Salon and in the USA. In 1894 he spent a year studying watercolour painting at Exmouth Art School under Charles E Georges. His compositions are loose and his colouring is reminiscent of the continental style. Two of his exhibits at the RA were entitled 'Fairy Led' and 'Paradise Lost'.