Harry Rutherford

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Harry Rutherford (1903-1985) was a British painter who is regarded as one of the most important painters of the "Northern School"[1] a group, led by L. S. Lowry which depicted the post-industrial changes around North West England. He was the first artist to have a television programme and later became President of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts.[2]

Early life[edit]

Harry Rutherford was born on Market Street, Denton, Manchester, the youngest of four sons of hat trimmer William Rutherford and his wife Mary Swindells. The manufacture of hats was a local industry based around Hyde and Stockport and it was to Hyde that the family moved in or around 1905.[3]


Rutherford left school at 14, but while still there attended the Hyde School of Art and continued his studies at the Manchester School of Art under Pierre Adolphe Valette, among his fellow pupils was Lowry. In 1925 Rutherford was the first and youngest pupil to enrol in Walter Sickert's new school of art in Manchester. His association with Sickert was lifelong and Sickert referred to Rutherford as "my intellectual heir and successor."[4]

In 1931 Rutherford moved to London where the emergence of the new medium of television produced opportunities thanks to his ability to sketch rapidly. From 1937 to 1939 Rutherford appeared regularly in the BBC's Cabaret Cartoons [5] where he drew the performers of variety shows as they did their act. From 1950-1956, he starred in his own programme, Harry Rutherford's Sketchbook.[6]

While exhibiting in numerous London galleries, he was invited to hold a series of exhibitions in Borneo in 1957, becoming the first western artist to do so.

He returned to Hyde in the late 1950s to 17 Nelson Street and was elected President of MAFA. In his later years, he taught at the Regional College of Art in Manchester and his pupils included the internationally renowned painter Geoffrey Key.


Rutherford's work is in several public art collections including: The Royal Academy, Manchester Art Gallery, The Atkinson Gallery, Gallery Oldham and Rochdale Art Gallery.[7]

The Rutherford Gallery[edit]

In 2008 Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council opened an exhibition space in Hyde Library to display permanently the town's collection of Rutherford works.[8] The Rutherford Gallery, celebrates the life of the artist.

There are two Blue Plaques for Rutherford in Hyde. One is on his former home 17 Nelson Street, keeping a studio next door and there is one on Hyde Town Hall.[9]


  1. ^ Davies, Peter (1989) "A Northern School" Redcliffe Press. ISBN 0-948265-73-6. pages 6,26,76,80,92,103,106,110,11,134,140,145
  2. ^ http://www.mafa.org.uk/past_presidents.php
  3. ^ Capes Dunn: Harry Rutherford Studio of Works Catalogue 2011
  4. ^ Davies, Peter (1989) "A Northern School" Redcliffe Press. ISBN 0-948265-73-6.Page 76.
  5. ^ Television supplement to the Radio Times, MAY 7, 1937 page 3
  6. ^ Hyde's unsung hero (2008-09-25). "Manchester - People - Hyde's unsung hero". BBC. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  7. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/harry-rutherford
  8. ^ "The Rutherford Gallery". Tameside.gov.uk. 2012-01-09. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  9. ^ http://www.tameside.gov.uk/blueplaque/harryrutherford