Edward H. Thompson was born in Seaton, Workington, and was only three when his father secured a post at the Moss Bay Iron and Steel Works. He painted his first water-colour at the age of ten, and when he left school, he began to work at the same firm as his father. Yet his passion always remained a desire to capture the natural landscape in all its beauty; his hobby was to cycle around the countryside painting the local views.
Despite opposition from his parents to what they saw as the distractions of draughtsmanship, Thompson continued to develop his art. When Sir John Randles, the Managing Director of the Steel Works told Thompson that if he was to have a painting accepted by the Royal Academy, he would pay £100 for it, Edward was given the impetus to become a professional artist. A picture of the Dolomites was duly accepted by the RA, and although it was not hung a career had begun. Thompson married in 1902, and moved to Cockermouth, where he struggled to raise four small children. Despite these difficulties, his newfound proximity to his beloved Lake District impelled his development as a full-time artist. Although relying on his wife to look after the finances, as he was no businessman, Thompson would quickly take on several students to supplement his income.
The artist would quickly become very well known around the lakes, with multiple reports of his strange dress in the pubs he used to frequent. He seems from reports at the time to have been something of a mythic figure in the areas around Cockermouth, with omnipresent woodbine in mouth and painting equipment always at hand. While the family would move to Routenbeck in 1926, and settled two years later in Setmurthy, Thompson would continue to perfect his studies of the lakes, painting under multiple names (most commonly Donald H. Paton) for different galleries.
Thompson would pass away in 1949 with the Prime Minister of New Zealand and Field Marshal Slim as his many satisfied customers, all of whom appreciated his fine Lake District watercolours. His works are still found throughout the world to this day. While the artist’s works are undoubtedly popular for their accurate record of the wild English landscape, it is his attention to atmosphere that truly sets him out as an artist of superlative talent. Through myriad seasons, times of day, and weather conditions, Thompson imbues his works with an unusual subtlety of tone.