Robert Talbot Kelly: Artist

Posted in Art, Artist on Sunday, 31 July 2011

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Robert Talbot Kelly was an English orientalist painter and illustrator.

picture, Robert Talbot Kelly, painter, artist, Egypt, Bab-Zaweyla

The Bab-Zaweyla in Egypt, painted by Robert Talbot Kelly

He was born Robert George Kelly in Birkenhead, Cheshire, in 1861, the son of Irish painter Robert George Kelly (c.1822-1910) and his wife Mary. He left school in 1876 to work for a firm of cotton traders but, taught by his father, he also took up painting and began exhibiting under the name R. G. Kelly Jnr.

Inspired to take up painting full time following an vacation on an ocean cruise ship, Kelly – who adopted the name Talbot Kelly for his work – gave up work in 1882 and travelled by boat to Africa and settled in Egypt in 1883. He acquired a studio in Cairo, becoming fluent in Arabic and writing and painting the people and scenes he encountered on his travels throughout the country. His  travels inspired the books Egypt Painted and Described (1902) and an exhibition at the Fine Art Society that same year. Trips to Burma inspired the books Burma Painted and Described (1905) and Burma (1908) and there was a second book on Egypt (1908), all published by A. & C. Black.

Kelly returned to the UK in 1915 for health reasons but continued painting. He was a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, the Royal Society of British Artists, Royal British Colonial Society of Artists and the Royal Geographical Society.

Robert Talbot Kelly died at the Cancer Hospital, Chelsea, on 30 December 1934. His son, Richard Talbot Kelly (1896-1971) was also an artist, specialising in bird paintings and historical subjects.

Many more paintings by Robert Talbot Kelly can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

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