Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Bayliss, Wyke

BAYLISS, Sir WYKE (1835–1906), painter and writer, born at Madeley, Shropshire, on 21 Oct. 1835, was second son of John Cox Bayliss of Prior's Leigh and Anne Wyke. His maternal grandfather was Dr. Wyke of Shrewsbury, to whom Darwin was articled as a pupil. His father was a railway engineer and a successful teacher of military and mathematical drawing. At an early age Bayliss showed an aptitude for drawing, and studied under his father, from whom he obtained the sound knowledge of perspective and architecture which influenced his later career, as a painter. He worked also in the Royal Academy schools and at the School of Design, Somerset House. From the first his interest lay entirely with architecture, and his whole life as an artist was spent in painting, in oil and water-colour, all the beauties of the Gothic style in the interior of cathedrals and churches. In an exceptionally narrow range of subjects he was a sincere and accomplished executant, painting with sound draughtsmanship and strong colour 'not merely architecture but the poetry of architecture.' At the Royal Academy he exhibited twice, sending 'La Sainte Chapelle' in 1865, 'Treves Cathedral' and 'Strasbourg Cathedral ' in 1879. His best work was given to the Royal Society of British Artists, of which he was elected a member in 1865. In 1888 he became president of the society in succession to James McNeill Whistler [q. v. Suppl. II], and till the close of his life held this office, for which his geniality, wide artistic sympathies, and energy were well adapted. Among the pictures which he himself selected as his most important works are : 'La Sainte Chapelle' (R.A. 1865), 'St. Laurence, Nuremberg' (Liverpool, 1889), 'St. Mark's, Venice' (Nottingham, 1880), 'St. Peter's, Rome' (R.B.A. 1888), and 'The Cathedral, Amiens' (R.B.A. 1900).

Bayliss also won reputation as an author. The best known of his books is 'Rex Regum' (1898; library edit, revised, 1902), an elaborate study of the traditional likenesses of Christ. In his 'Seven Angels of the Renascence' (1905), a blending of fact and sentiment, he gives his views upon seven selected great masters and their influence upon the art of the Middle Ages. Among his other publications were 'The Elements of Aerial Perspective' (1885); 'The Witness of Art' (1876; 2nd edit. 1878); 'The Higher Life in Art' (1879; 2nd edit. 1888); 'The Enchanted Island' (1888); and 'Five Great Painters of the Victorian Era' (1902; 2nd edit. 1904). Bayliss also published a short volume of poems, entitled 'Sæcula Tria, an Allegory of Life' (1857), and contributed to 'Literature' in 1889 (v. 387, 414), 'Shakespeare in Relation to his Contemporaries in the Fine Arts.' Before his death he completed 'Olives, the Reminiscences of a President,' which was edited by his wife and published, with a preface by Frederick Wedmore, in 1906.

Bayliss, who was elected F.S.A. in 1870, was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1897. He died at his residence, 7 North Road, Clapham Park, on 5 April 1906, and was buried at Streatham cemetery. A memorial is in the church of Madeley, Shropshire, his birthplace. He married in 1858 Elise, daughter of the Rev. J. Broade of Longton, Staffordshire, but left no issue. Two portraits of him, by John Burr and by T. F. M. Sheard, R.B.A., belong to Lady Bayliss.

[The Times, 7 April 1906; Who's Who, 1906; Contemp. Review, Aug. 1898; Graves's Royal Acad. Exhibitors; 'Olives,' his own reminiscences; private information.]

M. H.