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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Henry Courtney Selous (1803-1890), Painter and lithographer

Painter and illustrator; born 25 April 1803, [1] in London, son of George (or Gideon) Slous, miniaturist. Family name changed from Slous to Selous c.1838; attended Royal Academy Schools 1818 (four medals for figure drawing); assistant to panorama painter Robert Burford from 1829;[2] won a £100 prize in Westminster Hall Cartoon Competition 1843; many paintings commissioned for engraving, e.g. The Opening of the Great Exhibition (1852; V&A, London) and The Glorious Charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava (1855; untraced); exh. RA 1818–28 (as Slous) and 1838–85 (as Selous); illustrator specializing in outline drawings for Cassell’s and other publishers 1860s; author of children’s books under pseudonyms ‘Aunt Cae’ and ‘Kay Spen’ 1870s; died Beaworthy, Devon, 24 September 1890; buried Highgate Cemetery.

Selous and his brother the dramatist Angiolo Robson Selous were described by their nephew Edmund Selous as ‘out-of-the-canvas-stepping personalities, carrying with them atmosphere and aroma.’ [3]

His obituary in the Illustrated London News reads:

The well-known artist Mr. Henry Courtney Selous, who died in his eighty-eighth year, on Sept. 24, was one of an old Huguenot family, long settled in Jersey […] He was an indefatigable worker, continuing to paint up to the last year of his life, an excellent violoncello-player, and one of the first members of the Sacred Harmonic Society; a good architect, and a first-rate actor and Shakspearean reader. In his private character he was universally beloved and respected. [4]

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) Uglow 2011. Alternative date of birth of 1811 given in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon 1992–; and Benezit 2006.
2) See Selous’s journal while working for Burford and the Leicester Square Panorama; V&A, London, MSL5117-1979.
3) Millais 1918, p.3.
4) ILN, 11 Oct. 1890, p.254 (obits).

Referencesback to top

Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon 1992–
Meissner, G., ed., Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker, ongoing, Munich and Leipzig, 1992–.

Benezit 2006
Benezit, E., Dictionary of Artists (based on 4th ed. of French version), 14 vols, Paris, 2006.

Cronquist 1997
Cronquist, C., ‘Henry Courtney Selous: A Panoramist’s Work Revealed by his Journal’, Apollo, July 1997, pp.36–40.

Houfe 1996
Houfe, S., The Dictionary of 19th-Century British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1996 (rev. ed. of Houfe 1978).

Millais 1918
Millais, J.G., Life of Frederick Courtenay Selous, D.S.O., London, 1918.

Wood 1995
Wood, C., Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1995.

Uglow 2011
Uglow, N., ‘Selous, Henry Courtney (1803-1890)’, ODNB, Oxford, online ed., May 2011