Alfred John Billinghurst R.B.A. 1880 - 1965
A. J. Billinghurst was born in Blackheath, the son of Henry Billinghurst a city businessman. He was educated at St. Dunstan's college and in Switzerland, from where he returned to England to the Slade School in 1899. It was at the Slade where he came under the influence on Fred Brown and the English Impressionist Movement which was then in its infancy. In 1892 he went to Paris where he continued his studies at Julien's Academy for a year followed by a further period in the studio of Paul Laurent's Ecole de Beaux Arts. Following this period of intense study he toured France and Italy absorbing the influences of these countries impressionists.
At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted in the Gloucestershire Regiment and spent the next four years behind the front lines as a censor. He was mentioned in dispatches and wrote regularly to his parents often enclosing drawings of the everyday life of the ordinary soldier at war. At the end of the war he acquired a house and studio at East Sheen in London and married in 1920 at the age of forty.
In 1921 he was elected a full member of the Royal Society of British Artists and at this time produced a number of landscapes of Richmond and Wimbledon but it was his portraits of children and children at play that captured the publics imagination. As a young man at the turn of the century returning from Italy he occupied a studio at Stampford Bridge next to Lucien Pissaro. They were to become great friends and plien air painting companions.
From 1920 onwards until shortly before his death he exhibited widely at many important London galleries including the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Institute, Royal Society of Portrait Painters and in France at the Paris Salon.