Born at Poulton-le-Sands, which is now called Morecambe, Lancashire, on 1st October 1857, Woodhouse remained a Lancastrian throughout his life, based in Heysham. He was a distinguished animal painter and had acquired a keen interest in nature at an early age and is recorded as having studied at the Lancaster School of Art and the Nottingham School of Art. There is evidence that his works were used as examples for art students from which to learn. However, Woodhouse was basically self-taught as an animal painter and he frequented the slaughterhouses in order to study anatomy.
In 1899, he made an extensive tour of the Near East where he travelled in Greece, Turkey and other parts of the Mediterranean.
Woodhouse first exhibited when he was 24 at the Lancaster Exhibition and he continued to show there until 1927. His love of his native Lancashire resulted in his exhibiting rarely outside that county with just two at the Royal Academy – “Doomed” in 1889 and “Wolves and Wild Boar” in 1896 – in London and a few others at the Royal Institute and the Royal Society of British Artists. He preferred venues such as the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester and particularly the Lancashire Art Exhibition at Preston where he showed from 1927 until his death at Morecambe on 13th January 1939.
Technically brilliant and interested in textures, Woodhouse had a soft realistic style well suited to the depiction of animals and birds. He worked in oils, watercolours, and gouache, and did paint landscapes and portraits in addition to his preferred sporting subjects. Woodhouse’s horses and dogs have an especially tender quality and are painted with great sensitivity.
Four years after Woodhouse’s death, Sydney Paviere, Curator of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston, organised a memorial exhibition of eighty-nine of the artist’s works. The Fine Art Publishing Company in London made photogravure reproductions of many of his works. The Harris Museum and Art Gallery has examples of his work in its collection and Preston Museum has “Snipe” which it acquired in October 1943.
He was the father of the artist Ronald Basil Emsley Woodhouse.
Bibliography: The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists – Sally Mitchell
Dog Painting – William Secord
The Dictionary of British Artists – J Johnson and A Greutzner
The Dictionary of Victorian Painters – Christopher Wood
Dictionary of British Artists Working 1900-1950 – Grant M Waters
Dictionary of British Animal Painters – J. C. Wood
A Dictionary of British Bird Painters – Frank Lewis