George Weatherill (1810-1890) and his four children Mary (1834-1913), Sarah Ellen (1836-1920), Elizabeth (1841-1918) and Richard (1844-1923) were possibly the most famous artistic family in Yorkshire's history. Their minutely detailed yet beautifully impressionist style acted as one of the primary influences to The Staithes Group, and their work continues to be increasingly popular at auction over 100 years later.
George Weatherill was born at Cliff House in Staithes in 1810. The second son of a farmer, he pursued a clerical career under the apprenticeship of a Guisborough solicitor, during which he also pursued his artistic interests. As he rose through the ranks of the solicitors and later a Whitby bank, his increasing income allowed him to devote more time to painting and to make occasional visits to London, where he studied the work of JMW Turner. The influence of Turner is very evident in his work, so much so that he earned the nickname 'The Turner of the North'. The pressure of his work combined with increasing demand for his paintings, resulting in George having a nervous breakdown in 1860. This led him to resign from the bank and devote his life exclusively to painting, until his death in Whitby at the age of 80.
All four of the Weatherill children inherited their father's talent for painting and collectively produced a large body of work. Mary Weatherill, the eldest, produced work in a similar style to her father, but with looser, more impressionist brushstrokes. She travelled much more widely than anyone else in her family, making painting tours to France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Norway. The work of Richard Weatherill, the youngest and only boy, is probably the most sought after besides that of his father; uniquely to the family, Richard worked primarily in oils. The other two sisters, Elizabeth and Sarah Ellen, produced many fewer paintings than their siblings as they did not work as professional artists. Nonetheless, this did not affect the quality of their paintings, and their work is comparable to that of Richard and Mary.