Peter Ellenshaw is one of those rare people who have achieved fame in two worlds, as a landscape painter and in Hollywood. He was born in 1913 on a farm in Essex, England. As a young man, Ellenshaw met the British portrait painter, W. Percy Day, O.B.E. Day was instrumental in developing the highly demanding technique of matte painting, used to blend with actual scenery to create seamless settings for films. Within a few months of their meeting, Ellenshaw had convinced Day to hire him as his assistant, and, for the next seven years, the two artist worked closely together on some of the most scenically demanding films of all time, including Alexander Korda epics such as Things to Come, Rembrandt, The Four Feathers, The Drum, and The Thief of Baghdad.
Peter Ellenshaw went on to gain renown on his own, winning an Academy Award for his work in the Disney production of Mary Poppins, including the famous rooftops of London sequence. In 1979, the American Film Institute honored him for his 30 years association with Disney Productions with retrospectives of his film work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the American Film Institute, Washington, D.C.; The Film Institute, Chicago; and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles.
In the early 1960s, Ellenshaw began devoting himself to landscape painting, starting with his beloved Southern Californian coast and over the next several decades expanding to diverse locations including Ireland, the Arctic, Giverny, the Grand Tetons, Venice, Spain, etc. He is particularly known for his unmatched ability to capture in paint the force of the sea on wild rocky shores.
In 1983, a retrospective exhibition of his paintings was shown at the R. W. Norton Gallery Museum in Shreveport, Louisiana, and in 1984 the St. Louis Botanical Gardens Museum honored him with a one-man exhibition. A number of books have been published about Peter Ellenshaw’s life and work, including The Garden Within — The Art of Peter Ellenshaw, winner of the 1997 Benjamin Franklin Award.
Hammer Galleries has been proud to present Peter Ellenshaw’s paintings for over forty years. Mr. Ellenshaw passed away in February of 2007.