By Bobby Coleman
Lucy Elizabeth Kemp-Welch was born in Bournemouth on 20 June 1869.
From 1905 to 1926 she took over the running of Sir Hubert von Herkomer’s art school with her younger sister, Edith. Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914), British artist born in Germany, was her original tutor. The school was re-named the Bushey School of Painting, then to the Kemp-Welch School of Animal Painting after it moved premises to her home.
In 1914 she became President of the Society of Animal Painters. In 1915 she provided the illustrations for Anna Sewell’s book “Black Beauty”.
In December 1914 she was engaged by the British Parliamentary Recruiting Committee to paint the artwork for the famous recruitment poster “Forward! Forward To Victory Enlist Now”
During WW1, women were employed at Army Remount Depots where horses were trained and prepared for military service. Lucy Kemp Welch was commissioned by the Women’s Work Section of the Imperial War Museum to paint a scene at the largest depot which was staffed entirely by women at Russley Park, Wiltshire.
In 1916 she was given permission to visit the Royal Field Artillery Camp at Bulford on Salisbury Plain. Eight batteries of horse artillery were continually ridden towards her whilst she sat at her easel. This allowed her to capture the movement of horse teams at close quarters. This resulted in two large works, “The Leaders of a Heavy Gun Team” now in the Royal Artillery Institution and “Forward the Guns” which hangs in the Tate Gallery. Both paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1917.
Kemp-Welch also made studies at other Royal Artillery Camps and the resulting pictures include “Big Guns to the Front”, an image of shire horses pulling guns through a snowy landscape. This was shown to great acclaim at the Royal Academy in 1918 and was purchased in 1921 by the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.
In 1924, for the Royal Exchange, Kemp-Welch designed and completed large panel commemorating the work of women during World War One.
From 1926 onwards, she focused on painting scenes of circus and gypsy life and spent several summers with Sanger’s Circus recording the horses.
She lived for most of her life in Bushey, Hertfordshire and a major collection of her work is in the town’s museum.
Her younger sister, Edith, who died in 1941, was also an artist. She also produced a poster for the British war effort which was an image of Britannia with the slogan “Remember Scarborough”.
She died on 27 November 1958.