Born at Walton, near Chertsey, Surrey, Richard Copeland was a son of Edward and Evelyn Mary Weatherby, from the family of administrators and bankers for the Jockey Club of the UK. The name Weatherby is synonymous with horse racing. After education at Horris Hill School and Winchester College, he studied art with Frank Calderon at his School of Animal Painting. Then came studies at Westminster School of Art, St John's Wood Art Schools (1909), and the Royal Academy Schools (1911-12).
Known by his nickname "Seal" since schooldays, he already knew about the Lamorna Colony before leaving the RA and was living there and friendly with Alfred James MUNNINGS and many others when WWI broke out. He served as a Second Lieutenant in the Essex Yeomanry cavalry from soon after he enlisted in August 1914, until he was seriously wounded in the right wrist in early 1917. After hospital treatment he convalesced with Frank Gascoigne HEATH's family and began to resume his artistic career. After taking further instruction under Stanhope FORBES, he developed his own distinctive style of portrait and animal painting in oils, water-colour and crayon.
A lifelong friendship with Frank Nugent, resulted in Seal's holiday in India in 1926 during Nugent's Army service there. The voyage by sea, via the Suez Canal to Bombay and the subsequent rail journey via Belgaum and the Central Provinces of India to Kashmir, where the journey continued by horseback, provided Seal with the opportunity to complete a large portfolio of canvases and sketches of the exotic and extremely colourful images he saw, under the very bright sunlight conditions prevailing in the subcontinent. Back in Cornwall these paintings provided the foundation for an exhibition and sale at the Alpine Club Gallery in 1930. The proceeds were used to finance a pack of hounds and his own house and stables above Mullion Cove, in use by about 1935.
By nature a charming and gregarious person with many female friends, Seal married (1943) in his early sixties, Karenza Boscawen, in her late thirties, at Gulval Church. They lived at Alverton Manor Penzance where they both enjoyed the last ten years of his life in their common pursuits of hunting, gardening and painting. With Seal's health failing in 1950, they relocated near family in Brill, Buckinghamshire.
Following a final solo exhibition at the RBA Gallery (Oct 1952) in London, Seal died from emphysema and heart failure in November 1953. He was cremated at Oxford where his ashes were scattered. Seal Weatherby was of independent means and painted for pleasure.He did not carry out paid commissions, but for his farmer friends, would complete a portrait of a daughter for a year's supply of oats for his horses. Although remembered as friendly and outgoing he was by family trait a very private man, leaving no written records, few letters, but a large number of paintings most of which are in private collections.
One of his best known paintings, which won much critical acclaim, is a large portrait of fellow artist Stanley GARDINER on the quayside at Lamorna Cove. This painting belongs to Penlee House and is frequently exhibited there.
Article prepared by David Bradfield for M Hardie (2009) Artists/Newlyn & West Cornwall.
Painter of animals, especially horses; also a portrait painter
works and access
Works include: Newlyn Girl; Portrait of Stanley Gardiner; Portrait of S J Lamorna Birch; Portrait of Houghton Birch; Piper George Findlater VC; equine paintings (numerous)
Access to Work: Penlee House;
NAG 1920; Revival Exhibition 1928; STISA 1929, First exh at Alpine Club (49); Chenil; GI (2); I (2); L (2); PP (2); RA (15); RI; RBA
2012: 'Effortless Brushstrokes', Falmouth Art Gallery 11 Feb - 14 Apr
D Bradfield (2002) 'Portrait of an Artist, Richard Copeland Weatherby 1881-1953' [in] The Flagstaff , Issue 9, summer
D Bradfield (2007) In Field and Stable, The Life & Work of Richard 'Seal' Weatherby Bristol: Sansom & Co
Branfield, John (2010) Geoffrey and Jill Garnier, A Marriage of the Arts Bristol: Sansom & Co (photo of Seal, p27)
Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn/Diary
Hardie (2009) Artists/Newlyn & West Cornwall Article by D Bradfield pp295-6
Holmes Artistic Tradition
Newton et al Painting at the Edge
Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership
Tovey (2000) George Fagan Bradshaw - Submariner & Marine Artist, etc. STISA Principal members list p228
Tovey (2003) Creating a Splash (Illus);
Tovey (2022) Lamorna - An Artistic, Social and Literary History - Volume I - Pre-1920, Wilson Books