Paul Jacob NAFTEL

St. Peter Port 1817 - Twickenham 1891


Born on the island of Guernsey, Paul Naftel was from an early age devoted to painting and drawing, in which he was self-taught. His earliest works are views of Guernsey, which were reproduced as lithographs and sold to tourists visiting the island. By the 1840’s he was established as a drawing master, with his pupils made up mainly of young ladies of Guernsey society, and in 1847 was employed as Art Master at Elizabeth College, the island’s public school for boys. He was to remain at this post for over two decades. In 1850 he exhibited for the first time at the Old Watercolour Society in London, showing five views of Guernsey and one of North Wales. Naftel continued to send finished watercolours to the annual exhibitions of the O.W.S., often previewing the works in his studio in St. Peter Port before they were dispatched to London. He also provided some forty illustrations for David Thomas Anstead’s book The Channel Islands, published in 1862.

In 1870 Naftel decided to leave Guernsey and settle in London, where he was to live and work until the end of his career. He traveled extensively around Scotland, North Wales and Ireland, and also made several visits to Italy. In 1889 a one-man exhibition of his work, comprising sixty-six watercolours, was held at the Fine Art Society in London, marking the high point of the artist’s career. One review of the exhibition noted that ‘There is a delicious quality about Mr. Paul Naftel’s best work, which it would be hard to convey in words. Something in the delicacy and skill of his handling and something in his choice of projects and accentuation of parts produces an aerial quality quite delightful to behold.’ Naftel died two years later, at the age of seventy-five. The remaining contents of his studio, amounting to some four hundred works, were dispersed at auction at Christie’s in London in April 1892.