William Knight Keeling 1865-78

MAFA President: 1865-1878

Manchester-born artist William Keeling, fell in love with Spain. As a portrait painter, illustrator and the first President of the renamed Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, Keeling was well loved and respected in his home town, and his work was appreciated by art lovers much further afield.

Keeling travelled to Spain in the 1850s. This journey, and the works by great Spanish artists Murillo and Velázquez, inspired him with new ideas, motifs and colours. Keeling’s love for Spain is obvious in his rich paintings of Spanish street children, noble caballeros and beautiful Señoritas.

Keeling indulged his interest in historic clothes and accessories by working as an illustrator. Walter Scott’s novels, and plays by Spanish and English playwrights including Shakespeare, offered a good opportunity to paint their characters in bright and attractive costumes. Take a look at some of his paintings.