Memorial Notices : Material courtesy of Manx National Heritage
April 2001 by Brian E. P. Kneen
William Kneen M.A. 1862 - 1921
An artist of considerable reputation, a prolific and successful exhibitor, has just passed away in the person of Mr. William Kneen, art master at Westminster School London. Mr.. Kneen was born in the Isle of man in 1862, being the fourth son of Mr. John Kneen, farmer, of Grest, Kirk Christ Lezayre, who was a cousin of the late Thomas Kneen Clerk of the Rolls, and of various other well known Kneen's resident in different parts of the Island.
The family originally came out of Cammal, Kirk Michael . two sisters of the gentleman now deceased, the misses Kneen, live at imperial terrace, Onchan. He was educated in the Island and afterwards at the Manchester grammar School, where he became assistant art master. later ,on the recommendation of Mr. Walker, the High Master of Manchester grammar School, Mr. Kneen went to Westminster School , where he was appointed art master. This post he had held for thirty seven years. Mr. Kneen exhibited usually at the new English Art Club, The International Society of Sculptors and Gravers, and the Goupil Gallery Saloon. he was the youngest of four brothers, who were well-known Rugby footballers in the early 1880's.
The following is extracted from a recent issue of "The Times" London:
The news of the death of Mr. William Kneen will cause deep regret, not only among past members of Westminster School, where Mr. Kneen has served as Art master for thirty seven years, but among a far wider circle of students and lovers of the London galleries, showed just those qualities which characterised the man ; gentleness, modesty, alert imagination, and an aesthetic sense distinguished alike by it's exactness and its tranquil power.
It is, how ever, as one those teaching has many school generations that Mr.. Kneen will be most missed. in the educational world, though there is no lack of art masters of first- rate ability, there was no one quite of his particular temperament and calibre. A well-qualified critic to whose lot fell recently to appraise his work wrote of him :
" He is a man of exceptionally wide artistic outlook and experience, coupled with very quick perceptions. He appreciates keenly the very subtle and delicate quality of young imaginative minds, and they might otherwise never have realised, and have so gained a source of satisfaction and delight. To those boys who have special ability, his guidance and counsel have been of inestimable value and of the greatest service. To get each boy to see and feel, and to express what most appeals to him in the way which gives him most satisfaction, may be said to be the aim which Mr. Kneen has set himself "
As stated in our last issue, Mr. Kneen was a native of the Isle of Man, and was well acquainted with the leading members of the Manx community in London. An exhibition of his paintings was reviewed in the examiner a few months ago, under the initials of Mr. D. C. Christian, the press correspondent of the London Manx Society.
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