The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Alfred William Parsons, 1847-1920

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1847
Place of Birth: Somerset
Date of Death: 1920
Place of Death:


Alfred William Parsons was a landscape painter, watercolourist and illustrator.


Parsons was educated at the South Kensington School and worked as a post office clerk before he took up painting on a professional basis. He specialised in painting realistic pastoral scenes, landscapes, gardens and botanical studies. He exhibited from 1871 at venues such as the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Fine Art Society, Grosvenor Gallery, New Gallery, New English Art Club and Society of British Artists, a society that appointed JW its President in 1886. His When Nature Painted all Things Gay, which was exhibited at the R.A. in 1887, was bought by the Chantrey Bequest.

Parsons was a member of the Gallery Club, a private club for gentlemen interested in the theatre and the arts, which had communication with JW in the 1880s (#01638). In 1882 he became a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, resigning in 1898, and in 1883 he was elected to the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. He joined the New English Art Club in 1886, a group with which JW exhibited at their first show in 1888. In 1889 Parsons was among those included in the preliminary preparations for a meal to be held at the Criterion on 1 May in celebration of JW's honorary membership of the Royal Academy in Munich [#00631].

Parsons was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1897, becoming a full member in 1911. In 1898 he joined the Society of Illustrators and sat on the Provisional Committee. It was during this time that JW was offered a Vice-Presidentship from the society (#05506).

He became President of the Royal Water Colour Society in 1913, having been elected to the membership in 1905, following an associateship in 1899. In 1917 he was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours and in 1919 he was made an honorary member of the Royal Miniature Society.


Wood, Christopher, Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, 1971; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980.