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Roland Green (1890 – 1972)

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Roland Green (1890 – 1972) was one of Britain’s most accomplished wildlife artists from the 1920s onwards. Living on the Norfolk coast, in the reeds at the edge of Hickling Broad, he specialised in drawing and painting birds, both in in oils and watercolours, illustrating many books on the subject. He was a founder member of the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA), originally conceived by Robert Gillmor and Eric Ennion.

Roland Roland Green was born in 1890 and from an early age showed great prowess in drawing and won a scholarship to the Rochester School of Art, followed by study at the Regent Street Polytechnic. He went on to work at the Natural History Museum in London and also studied at the Regents Park Zoological Gardens where he was to become a life fellow.

In 1923 whilst living on his Houseboat on Hickling Broad he found an old mill which had an all round glass lookout at the top which gave superb views over the Broads and it became his first studio.

He held his first solo exhibition at Ackerman’s in 1929 and continued to have annual exhibitions until the outbreak of the last war.

He illustrated many books including the five volume classic “Hand book of British Birds”, but it was not until 1947 that he wrote and illustrated his first book - ‘Wing Tips’, followed by ‘How I Draw Birds’ in 1951. Both of these books are now collectors items.

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Other books include Birds in Flight by W. P. Pycraft, The Bird Book by Enid Blyton, Wing to Wing by E. H. Ware, The Ladybird Book of British Wild Animals by George Cansdale, and the Third Book of British Birds and their Nests by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald (1956), following the death of Allen W Seaby, who illustrated the first two volumes. 

These early Ladybird books in the ‘Nature’ Series (536) are the first bird books I owned, and are all beautifully illustrated. To my eyes they are amongst the finest books to illustrate ‘Art in Nature’. 

In 1919 he contracted Influenza and became quite deaf but only the gradual loss of his eyesight in the early ‘60s slowed down his painting and enthusiasm. He never worked from photographs, preferring to work entirely by from observation in the field, which may explain why his flying birds are so much more realistic than those of many modern painters. Roland knew his birds intimately and always showed them in their natural habitats. His work is beautiful and believable.

The featured image of a Moorhen was sourced from ‘Pinterest’, and may be subject to copyright.

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