Mystery to find resting place of Royal Doulton painter, believed to have died in Sidbury

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 February 2019

Photographs of the work of Louis Bilton which are on display in museums across Australia, including the South Australia Museum. Picture: Tim McCartney

Photographs of the work of Louis Bilton which are on display in museums across Australia, including the South Australia Museum. Picture: Tim McCartney

Archant

An art lover is hoping to unravel the mysterious life of a former Royal Doulton decorator, whose burial site remains unknown.

Photographs of the work of Louis Bilton which are on display in museums across Australia, including the South Australia Museum. Picture: Tim McCartneyPhotographs of the work of Louis Bilton which are on display in museums across Australia, including the South Australia Museum. Picture: Tim McCartney

Tim McCartney, who lives in Australia, contacted the Herald as part of his research into the life of painter Louis Bilton, who is believed to have died in Sidbury in 1937.

Little is known about Mr Bilton’s life, but a the painter’s death certificate recorded his residence as ‘St Clair’, Sidford Road, Sidbury, Sidmouth, Devon November 14, 1937.

Mr McCartney began the research on behalf of a distant relative of the decorator to help with their family tree.

The collector said: “I am also a very keen collector of his work, although I can’t afford his hand-painted items.

Photographs of the work of Louis Bilton which are on display in museums across Australia, including the South Australia Museum. Picture: Tim McCartneyPhotographs of the work of Louis Bilton which are on display in museums across Australia, including the South Australia Museum. Picture: Tim McCartney

“Finding his burial site and a photo of him would be for me like finding a lost soul, although Louis is not related, I have admired and cherish what he has done, and if I ever came to England I would visit his grave out of respect for what he left for us to enjoy.”

Growing up, Mr Bilton trained with William Mussell, a gifted painter of flowers and birds at Mintons, a ceramics country in Staffordshire.

Census records show his father was a pottery manager and brother was his assistant before he moved out to Australia.

During his time he is believed to have made paintings for Picturesque Atlas of Australasia volume of books.

Photographs of the work of Louis Bilton which are on display in museums across Australia, including the South Australia Museum. Picture: Tim McCartneyPhotographs of the work of Louis Bilton which are on display in museums across Australia, including the South Australia Museum. Picture: Tim McCartney

He returned to England and joined Doulton & Co in 1892, and within a year won worldwide acclaim for his designs.

He stayed with the company for 20 years.

A spokesman for Royal Dalton said: “Bilton was a versatile artist; he was responsible for some of the designs in Spanish and Luscian styles and for drawings of children and Japanese girls reproduced from prints in underglaze blue.”

In March 1925, the artist travelled to the USA at the age of 65 to work the Palm-Fechteler co in Ohio.

Photographs of the work of Louis Bilton which are on display in museums across Australia, including the South Australia Museum. Picture: Tim McCartneyPhotographs of the work of Louis Bilton which are on display in museums across Australia, including the South Australia Museum. Picture: Tim McCartney

He retired to Sidbury in 1931, with his cousin Anne Louise Wolfe, spending the rest of his life in Devon, dying at the age of 76.

Mr McCartney said: “He was a reasonably wealthy person.

“When he died he left an estate of more than £5,172 pounds which I would assume was a lot of money back in 1937.”

Mr Bilton did not marry or have children and left his estate to his cousin who died in 1959.

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