An English Post- Impressionist from Sussex.
Vernon Southward was born and educated in France. He moved to Southampton in the 1930s where he met his wife Alwyn, a teacher at Southampton University. They married in 1942, and moved to Osterley in Middlesex. Southward joined the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) in 1941 and was one of the first to work at Heathrow in the days of ‘mud and marquees’, he became station officer, a position he held until his retirement in 1976.
At the end of the second world war, Southward embarked on his artistic education at the Heatherley School of Art, London, where he was one of a select group of talented pupils to be taught by the renowned Scottish colourist and engraver, Iain MacNab.
Southward progressed quickly and by 1950 Southward began to exhibit, in London at the Royal Institute of Watercolorists and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, and also at several provincial exhibitions.
Southward’s wife, Dr.Alwyn Ruddock, was a respected maritime historian and her research took them to Paris and on to the ancient ports of the Mediterranean. Southward recorded these visits in detailed sketch books, later to be worked up into paintings in watercolour and in oil, and studied the works of the great Impressionists in local museums and art galleries. His sketch books provide a fascinating diary of their travels. From the mid 60s, the couple travelled extensively each spring and autumn to Europe, visiting Greece, Italy, Malta, Gozo, and Libya.
From the early 70s, Southward’s pictures display the influence of the great Impressionists, including Monet and Cezanne, and he found inspiration in the vibrant landscapes of the Mediterranean that he and Alwyn visited, including Aix-en-Provence, Menton, Italy, Portugal and Yugoslavia.
His exhibited pictures gained success and public notice and in 1972 the London publishers, W & G Foyle, having admired his Mediterranean views shown at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, commissioned a series of book covers.
Southward retired from BOAC in 1976 and moved to Midhurst, West Sussex, where he devoted the remaining years of his life painting the surrounding countryside. Increasingly his works were exhibited at the Paris Salon where he was an Associate Member of the Society of French Artists. Thirteen major works, all landscapes were exhibited at the Paris Salon between 1972-1981, and in 1975 he received an ‘Honourable Mention’ for A Snow in Mottisfont.
Southward died suddenly on 7th September 1981, whilst on a walking holiday in Somerset, and was buried at Midhurst Cemetery. He was survived by his devoted wife Alwyn, who kept the Midhurst studio just as Vernon left it until her death in 2006.
Landscape in snow was a favourite subject of Vernon Southward, and his last exhibited picture, Snow near Midhurst, was shown in May 1981 at the Salon of the Grand Palace of Champs-Elysees