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Thomas Arthur Bridson

Epithet: Manx artist (1860-1966)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: Thomas Arthur Bridson was the son of Philip John Bridson, a farmer. When he left school he was apprenticed to Robert Swinnerton, a clockmaker and jeweller in Douglas whom he left to become an apprentice photographer with Thomas Keig. He left the Island for several years and travelled throughout England and Paris, returning in 1889 to open a photography business in Douglas. This did not prove successful so he moved to London, where by 1891 he was working in zinc and copper fine etching.

Bridson lived in Edinburgh, Manchester and Paris producing etchings and finally settled in Wolverhampton from 1905 until he returned to the Isle of Man aged sixty five. During his time in Wolverhampton he was often unemployed and would eke out a living by painting portraits and doing cheap photography.

During his life he had many claims to fame. He was the oldest man to have lived on the Island, the oldest practising artist and regularly climbed the summit of Snaefell, when he was in his 80s and 90s sometimes to celebrate his birthday.

His obituary ran:
Artist, idealist, adventure seeker, Thomas Arthur Bridson was a remarkable character in his day. Painting, singing and mountain-climbing were his great interests.

Bridson’s early artistic talent is said to have shown itself when he drew the animals on his parents’ farm. Although predominantly self-taught, he claimed to have been one of the first students to have enrolled at the Douglas School of Art in the 1880s. He was a well-known and celebrated student at the School’s evening classes in older age and is still remembered by those he took life classes with.

Retirement allowed Bridson to concentrate on his love of painting, in particular figure and portrait painting, and he is thought to have painted hundreds of portraits from 1885 onwards. Bridson had a distinctive technique of painting in oils, using jewel-like colours and layers of paint to give a slightly surreal or other-worldly feel to his work.

Occupation / profession: artist

Gender: Male

Date of birth: 1860

Place of birth: The Friary, Arbory, Isle of Man

Date of death: 1966

Place of death: The Mannin Infirmary, Isle of Man


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