Professor Kenneth Rowntree
English 1915 – 1997
Painter, illustrator, artist in collage and murals, draughtsman and teacher, born in Scarborough, Yorkshire. Kenneth Rowntree studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford, under Albert Rutherston, 1934–35, and at the Slade under Randolph Schwabe. During World War II he participated in the Pilgrim Trust Recording Britain project and was an Official War Artist.
Kenneth Rowntree had his first one-man exhibition at Leicester Galleries in 1946; other one-man shows followed at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Zwemmer Gallery, New Art Centre, and the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with a retrospective at Hatton Gallery there in 1980. In 1949 Kenneth Rowntree became a tutor at RCA, a post he held until 1958. In 1959 Kenneth Rowntree became Professor of Fine Arts, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, succeeding Lawrence Gowing; he held the position until 1980.
In 1992 a touring retrospective was organised, starting in Newtown. Group shows included NEAC, AIA and RSW. He became a member of the Society of Mural Painters in 1943, taught mural painting at the Royal College of Art for 10 years from 1948, and received a Ford Foundation Grant to visit America in 1959. In 1948 Kenneth Rowntree illustrated A Prospect of Wales. Murals completed include those for Barclay School, Stevenage, 1946, RMS Orsova and Iberia, 1954, and the British Pavilion at Brussels International Exhibition in 1958. In 1951 Kenneth Rowntree painted murals for the Lion and Unicorn Pavilion at the Festival of Britain.
Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum and WAC are among many public owners of his work. Kenneth Rowntree’s pictures reflect the genial and witty nature of the artist, usually being landscapes and townscapes in which the elements have a toy-like neatness and familiar notations are employed. In the post-war years Kenneth Rowntree also painted a considerable number of abstract (and semi-abstract) works. His work is sometimes signed with just his initials. Kenneth Rowntree lived at Corbridge, Northumberland.