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Raymond Dearn

Epithet: Artist (1858-1925)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: Raymond Dearn was the son of William Dearn, a Master iron and brass founder with his own foundry in Colchester. He was orphaned at the age of eight and little else is known about Dearn’s early life. By 1881 he was working as a live-in draper in a large shop in Hammersmith, London. In the 1891 census Dearn is described as a ‘self-employed artist’ boarding in Derby with an elderly blacksmith. Soon after, Dearn moved to the Isle of Man, boarding at Ballabrooie farm Sulby in 1901 where his profession as self-employed artist was further qualified by the term ‘landscape painter’.

Although a prolific painter, with many of his works surviving, Dearn does not appear to have been financially successful. He died in 1925 in the Braddan Home for the Poor and was buried in a communal grave in Braddan cemetery.

Apart from an 1890 oil painting showing the congested industrial landscape of Derby along the banks of the river Derwent, not much is known of Dearn’s artwork before coming to the Isle of Man. Once on the Island he specialised in oil paintings of the Curraghs and the cottages and country lanes in and around Sulby.

Dearn’s paintings personify an idyllic Manx countryside populated by scenes of cattle wandering along quiet country lanes, sheep grazing on hillsides and young girls in sunbonnets outside whitewashed thatched cottages. Such images are similar to those being created at the same time by photographer George B. Cowen, who also depicts a quaint and picturesque Manx landscape - a romanticised countryside.

Before moving to the Isle of Man, Dearn lived in the industrialised towns and cities of England. Having experienced the dramatic landscapes of industrialisation, his Manx art is perhaps an attempt at celebrating an unchanged rural way of life. The unspoilt nature of Sulby appealed as both a place to live, but also as inspiration for most, if not all, of his work. Dearn’s paintings show his fascination for a bucolic world far removed from his own upbringing. Paintings of this sort became popular on the Isle of Man as people became nostalgic for the vanishing rural communities, they had grown-up in.

Occupation / profession: artist

Gender: Male

Date of birth: 1858

Place of birth: Colchester, England

Date of death: 1925

Place of death: Braddan, Isle of Man


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