Horace van Ruith
(1839 – 1923)
- Circa 1884
Probably of Russian origin, Horace van Ruith was born in Capri. A professional painter who specialized in portraiture, landscapes and genre scenes in oil & watercolour. Although subsequently based in England he spent several years working in Italy. He visited Bombay sometime between 1879 and 1884 and is known to have established a studio in the city. He painted a number of works portraying local people, especially those in various trades – coolies at work, a cotton cleaner, a cord maker and street musicians. On his return to London he took part in the Colonial & Indian Exhibition opened by Queen Victoria in 1886, when he showed a number of similar subjects. It also included the panoramic view from Malabar Hill across Back Bay. Her son the Duke of Connaught noted of him in a letter to the Queen that “ no man understands the peculiar characteristics of Indian life better than he does & he is a very clever artist.”
After this he exhibited regularly in England including the royal academy exhibitions in London, where he showed “Money Changer, Bombay” in 1900. He almost certainly visited India again, probably around 1900, for he also worked in Baroda at the invitation of the Gaekwad. Despite his long life and obviously considerable output his pictures are rare today.
This biographical note was taken from Bombay to Mumbai published by Marg Publications 1997