Harrison Weir

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Who was Harrison William Weir?

 May 5, 1824 – Jan 3, 1906


© John G Smithson 2012

"An artist, an illustrator, a journalist and author, a poet, a champion of animal rights, a poultry-man, an ornithologist, a horticulturalist and naturalist…a dog lover, a cat lover, a horse lover, a friend to all bird-life, a friend to farm animals…these are just some of the many titles and attributes that come to mind when answering the above question.


He is officially acknowledged as the “Father of the Cat Fancy” due to his key role in the establishment of cat shows, but he was indeed much more. His chief claim to fame was being widely acknowledged as one of the leading illustrators of the Victorian era, especially where bird or animal life was the subject matter. In fact, in this field he held a pre-eminent position, both in Britain and around the world.


His work appeared in a large variety of periodicals and in a growing range of children’s books and magazines published on both sides of the Atlantic. His exceptional artistic skills, coupled with extraordinarily keen powers of observation and a benevolent attitude towards animals, helped to educate and influence several generations of young people across the globe. It was his very natural portrayal of examples of both the generosity and sagacity of animals in real life situations, which contributed to a significant change in Victorian perceptions towards their humane treatment. By 1877, more than five million copies of his illustrations were being circulated annually. Both his interests and illustrative subject matter was in fact so broad, that in a very real sense he was an artist for all ages.


He was one of the foundation staff members of The Illustrated London News when it was established in 1842 and was still on the staff when this leading newspaper celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1892, and beyond. An industrious and prolific artist, he has left an immense legacy in his paintings, drawings and countless illustrations, the majority of which stand as a testament to his philosophy that mankind must treat all animal life with respect, friendship and compassion.


To learn more about the fascinating life of this amazing artist, go to www.HarrisonWeir.com and check out the heading H.WEIR and the articles linked to it. »

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