Harry Dorr 1872 – 1950

This exquisite little oil painting of Yarmouth Harbour by Harry Dorr circa 1920 measures 26 x 24 cms, and was reframed in 1982 by R A Dorr.

Harry Dorr was born and lived most of his life in the small town of Kettering in the English county of Northamptonshire.  Following the death of his father at around the age of 13, he went to London where he worked for some years in the district of Greenwich.  It is likely that he worked in some capacity on the docks in Greenwich as in subsequent years he displayed an enduring interest in ships and sea that is reflected in the many paintings he produced with a Maritime theme. 

Eventually he returned to Kettering where he married and started in business as a sign-writer and painter and decorator, painting in watercolour and oil in his spare time.  He was a founder member of the Kettering and District Arts Society, alongside the much better known Alfred East RA, and served as President of the society, a position also filled later by his son Ray Dorr (1913-2006). Harry Dorr was also a member of the Leicester Society of Artists, where he also exhibited. According to family lore he turned down the opportunity exhibit at the Royal Academy out of shy humility. What is definite is that he painted continuously for at least the last forty years of his life, often sketching in situ in watercolour, and then painting in his home studio in oil.  His subjects were landscapes and seascapes painted from life and most usually filled with working men and women.  As a result his work distinctive in terms of English landscape painting of the time. Where typically one might expect a bucolic romanticism to hold sway in Harry Dorr’s work there are often touches of gritty realism.   

His painted his native Northamptonshire landscape, East Anglia on the East coast of England, London, the south coast of England, Durham in the north of England as well as in Holland and Belgium, which he toured by bicycle on more than one occasion and where he did many windmill studies.

In his lifetime his paintings sold almost exclusively in Northamptonshire. On occasion the buyers were the more well-heeled members of county society whose houses he would decorate. 

Information courtesy of the artist’s great-grandson Ross Holloway.

Private Collection, Kettering, Northamptonshire UK