Ralph Hedley (1848-1913)


Ralph Hedley - self portrait - Wikimedia CommonsRalph Hedley was a painter and woodcarver, best known for his paintings of everyday life in the North East. Hedley was born near Richmond on 31st December 1848, and brought up in Newcastle. He studied art and design, and at 13 years old begain an apprenticship to Thomas Tweedy in his carving workshops. Examples of his wood carvings are found in St Nicholas Cathedral and St Andrew's Church and many other North Eastern churches. Hedley lived at Belle Grove Terrace in Spital Tongues from 1885 until his death in 1913. Many of Hedley's oil paintings can be seen in the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle.

Born in Gilling West near Richmond, North Yorkshire, Ralph and his parents Richard and Anne Hedley moved to Newcastle upon Tyne around 1850, on the wave of industrial opportunity. Aged about 13, he was apprenticed to Thomas Tweedy in his carving workshops, simultaneously studying art and design at the 'Government school' in Newcastle, and attending evening classes at the Life School under William Bell Scott. At the age of 14 he was awarded a bronze medal by government's Department of Art and Science.

After concluding his apprenticeship, Hedley established a successful woodcarving business, whilst also producing lithographs for the local press and taking every opportunity to work as an artist. He had the first of many paintings, 'The newsboy', accepted for exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1879. Joining with Henry Hetherington Emmerson and Robert Jobling, they founded the Bewick Club which encouraged and exhibited the work of the local artists of the North East, staging the first exhibition in 1884.

Examples of his wood carving work can be found in The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas, Newcastle, where, between 1882 and 1889, he and his workshop carved the choir and rood screen for the scheme by architect Robert James Johnson (1832-1892), commissioned when the Diocese of Newcastle was founded and Newcastle upon Tyne became a City. Other carving work can be seen in St Andrew's Church Newcastle and many other North Eastern churches.

Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 08/04/2016).
Visit the page: Ralph Hedley for references and further details. You can contribute to this article on Wikipedia.

He was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists, and had more than fifty of his paintings displayed at the Royal Academy between 1879 and 1904. He became president of the Bewick Club and was Vice-President of the South Shields Art Club

Today, Hedley's paintings are appreciated for the record they provide of everyday life in Tyneside in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Even at the time of Hedley's death in June 1913, the Newcastle Daily Chronicle recognised the value of his work, arguing that "What Burns did for the peasantry of Scotland with his pen, Ralph Hedley with his brush and palette had done for the Northumberland miner and labouring man.".

A number of Hedley's works, including Cat in a Cottage Window, Last in Market and 'Going Home' are known throughout the world, many of them reproduced as popular prints. In March 2004, The Tournament, depicting a group of boys having a piggy-back fight, sold for £44,000 - a record for a Hedley painting at auction.

Hedley is the amongst the most recent Newcastle figures to be honoured by the city's Commemorative Plaque Scheme. The plaque was unveiled by the Lord Mayor, Councillor George Douglas, on Monday 29 November 2004, at 19 Belle Grove Terrace in Spital Tongues, where Hedley lived from 1885 until his death in 1913. The property now forms part of the Belle Grove public house. Guests attending the unveiling included relatives of Hedley, and Julie Milne, the curator of the Laing Art Gallery. The Laing holds one of the largest bodies of Hedley's work, including 41 oil paintings and three watercolours, and a major exhibition devoted to Hedley in 1990. A book on Hedley's life and times was published in association with that exhibition.

As part of the Festival of the North East, 2013, an exhibition of his work held in local public collections was shown at the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, and a small group of works from private and public collections was shown at the Hartlepool Art Gallery.

To mark the centenary of his death, Ralph Hedley was honoured by a choral evensong held at The Catherdral Church of St Nicholas on 14 June 2013, conducted by the Dean, the Very Revd Christopher Dalliston, and with the Newcastle Cathedral Choir.

Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 08/04/2016).
Visit the page: Ralph Hedley for references and further details. You can contribute to this article on Wikipedia.
from Newcastle libraries (flickr)
049328:St. George's Church Osborne Road Jesmond Parry William c.1888

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Ralph Hedley, Self portrait (1895)
- "This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or ...

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The Butter Churn by Ralph Hedley, 1897
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Cathedral Church of St Nicholas, Newcastle
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Cathedral Church of St Nicholas, Newcastle
- Overview History Features Music Map Inside St Nicholas is the cathedral for the Church of England Diocese of Newcastle and is named after St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors ...
Laing Art Gallery
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Laing Art Gallery
- Overview About the Laing Map Street View The gallery is free to enter and is located on a pedestrianised section of New Bridge Street by its junction with John Dobson ...
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Out of Work or Nothing Doing - Ralph Hedley, 1888
- "This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: Public domain ...

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from Newcastle libraries (flickr)
578873:The Belle Grove Spital Tongues Taylor Olive c. 1990

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578891:The Belle Grove, Belle Grove Terrace, c.1990

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from Newcastle libraries (flickr)
025601:St. Andrew's Church Newgate Street/St. Andrew's Street Newcastle upon Tyne Unknown c.1930

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Spital Tongues
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Spital Tongues
- Overview About Spital Tongues Map Timeline Street View Spital Tongues is a historic area in the north west of Newcastle upon Tyne. It had been a separate village until the ...
St George's Church, Jesmond
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St George's Church, Jesmond
- History Map The Church of St George, off Osborne Road in Jesmond is a Grade 1 listed building. The church was designed by designed by Thomas Ralph Spence and its 154 ft ...

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