Philip Osment was a painter of marine,
coastal and landscape scenes in watercolour. He lived in
Liverpool for some of his life when he was actively painting and does not appear to have exhibited so most of his
paintings are still found in that area. His scenes are often of Welsh
views as in the example above - this shows Llyyn Idwal and the Devil's
Kitchen which is at the head of the Ogwen pass in Snowdonia. A more
detailed biography supplied by Barrie Lees is as follows:
Philip Osment was
born into a family of Exeter silversmiths in 1861.
His grandfather John
Osment was active as a silversmith in Mint Street from about 1818 to
1845. And the youngest of John’s eight children – Philip Daniel Osment –
was the artist’s father. Things were looking good for Philip Daniel by
the time of the census in 1861. He had married Sarah Wills the year
before, and was now a 21-year-old master silversmith in Exeter employing
two youngsters. His first son – Philip junior – was born the same year,
and a brother John Wills Osment arrived two years later.
Then tragedy struck.
He became bankrupt in 1864, and died the following year, leaving Sarah a
widow with two toddlers. She was rescued by an Exeter artist, Reuben
Tremlett, who must have had a decisive influence on his young stepson.
The Tremletts also
came from a creative family. Reuben’s grandfather had been a smith, and
at the time of the 1841 census Reuben’s father James was working as an
artist while lodging at a house in Shoreditch. Meanwhile his wife was
looking after their children back in Exeter.
In the 1871 we find
widower Reuben and widow Sarah living together in Liverpool. There is no
evidence of a wedding in England or Wales, so perhaps they married
elsewhere – or even risked flouting convention after moving so far from
their native Devon. There were four children: Emily, aged 8, from
Reuben’s first marriage; Philip and John, aged 9 and 7, from Sarah’s
first marriage; and their shared child, two-year-old Marion. Their home
was in Phoebe Anne Street, Everton, and Reuben’s parents were living
close by in Sykes Street, which formed a T-junction with it.
Reuben had begun his
working life as a jeweller’s apprentice, but in 1861 we find him listed
as an artist and photographer. In 1871 he calls himself a “portrait and
landscape painter”, and in 1881 just “artist, painter”. By 1891 he has
crossed the Mersey to Birkenhead and is working as a photographer. He
died there aged 56 the following year.
Philip Osment is
described as an “artistic student” at the age of 17 while living with
Reuben and his mother in the 1881 census. But it seems he may have been
a bit wild – in 1884 an advert appeared in the Liverpool Mercury saying:
“If Philip Osment, artist, does not call at 46 Lavan-street [a
continuation of Phoebe Anne St], within seven days, the articles
belonging to him will be sold to pay expenses.” It looks as though he
may have moved to a boarding house, and then left without paying the
By 1891 he had moved
to Wales to work as a landscape artist, living alone near the River
Conway. Ten years later he is still working on his landscapes, but
living as a boarder in the house of fellow landscapist Peter Glent [?]
and his large family in Llanrhos, between Llandudno and Conway.
pictures show that he visited Anglesey, Deganwy (only a mile from
Llanrhos), Snowdonia and the Dee Estuary. And it may have been around
this time that he visited Ellesmere Port and painted the Manchester Ship
He probably had
little success, because during the 1900s he switched from painting to
photography – like his step-father. In the 1911 census – at the age of
49 – he is back living with his widowed mother in Liverpool and working
as an “artist (photographic)”. His half sister Marion Tremlett, aged 42,
is no doubt helping because she is described as a “photographic
There is no further
information on Philip’s movements for the next quarter of a century, but
we assume from his paintings – which are mainly watercolours with a few
oils – that he travelled quite widely. He probably worked in the
Scottish Highlands and the Lake District, and certainly spent much time
in Cornwall. He also painted in Hampshire – in Old and New Alresford,
and in Romsey.
Experts believe that
the quality of his work declined during his later years, and it has been
suggested that this was caused by alcohol. There is no evidence that he
Philip surfaces again
in a trade directory of 1938, which shows he was still working as an
artist at the age of 77. He was living at 4 Pennsylvania Road, Old Swan,
about 3 miles north east of Liverpool city centre. Presumably he paid
for an entry in the hopes of drumming up more business. In 1945 he is
again living with his half-sister Marion, this time in Hampshire.
thanks to skills taught her by her father and by Philip, had married a
photographer in 1915. He was Alfred William Holliday, a widower with six
children, whose shop was on Jewry Street, Winchester. The couple were in
their mid-40s and there were no more children. But by 1945 Alfred had
died, and Marion was living at a house called Conway in Haig Road, New
Alresford. This was to be Philip’s last home, before he became
terminally ill. He was taken to the former workhouse infirmary at
Fareham, where he died of cancer of the little toe of his right foot on
May 24 1947 at the age of 84.
Philip was buried in
the churchyard at New Alresford. Marion put a death notice in two local
papers – but there is no memorial stone.
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