George Soper RE 1870-1942


Born in Devon in 1870, George Soper received very little formal training but, following boarding school and a brief stint in the army and navy, he pursued his true love and embarked on a career as an illustrator and etcher.

Despite his lack of formal training, George was selected to exhibit at the Royal Academy at just 19 years of age, where he continued to exhibit most years for the rest of his life.

He is well remembered for his illustrations for a variety of books, magazines and journals, including well-known children’s literature Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Water Babies, Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, Arabian Nights and Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

George continually strived to expand and perfect his skills, studying etching under the renowned architect, engraver and etcher, Sir Frank Short.

His talent blossomed under Short’s tuition and he started to gain further recognition for his work.

In boatshed1conbri

Living off the land

As well as being a talented artist, George had a deep love and respect for the British countryside and the animals and people who called it home. He soon became fascinated with the relationship between man and the working horse. He fully immersed himself in the daily work of agricultural labourers, fascinated by the shared toil between the men and their faithful companions.

By joining the workers as they toiled, he keenly observed the complex and trusted relationships between man and horse. His art captures the very essence of this bond and the power exerted in their struggle to tame the landscape.

The Soper Collection - Bens Team
Ploughing Horses

His large array of Working Horse watercolours and etchings are a principal part of The Soper Collection, which itself features the largest single set of George Soper’s work.  

Perfecting his protégées

Following his marriage to the beautiful Ada in 1897, their first daughter, Eva Lilian, was born in 1901, followed four years later by Eileen Alice.

By 1907, the couple had bought a plot of land in Hertfordshire and begun to build their family home. Featuring an enormous studio, the house would come to be known as ‘Wildings’, so named by the sisters. George would soon make it his principal duty to educate the young Eva and Eileen in his craft, enabling them to achieve their own continued success long after his death in 1942.

wildings house
Down Shepherd

Bringing the British countryside to life

George’s talent lay in his ability to accurately translate every detail of his subject to paper. His gift to express movement through texture transports the observer to share in that very moment, frozen in time.

His artwork, displayed in The Soper Collection for all to enjoy and cherish, tells a story of a wild land and man’s struggles to tame and cultivate it. It tells of man’s love for, and partnership with, the working horse, a tradition long-forgotten but reinvigorated in this stunning collection.


Please donate to The Soper Collection

Further donations will be used to expand and enhance the facilities at the Pannett Art Gallery.


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