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Ernest J. Rawleigh
Ernest Joseph Rawleigh (English-born Canadian-American, 1883-1954) prominent Western New York commercial photographer, photo-pictorialist, painter and award-winning landscape gardener was born in Coventry, England in 1883. He immigrated with his family to Canada in 1887, and later came to the United States around 1910. He is primarily known for his black and white, sepia and hand-colored photographs finished in oil & watercolor, as well as "Etchtone" photographic prints which were a photo-mechanical process he used to depict Niagara Falls, landscapes, cityscapes, parks, and gardens as well as genre scenes, including WWI subjects, portraits and animals were also common subjects.

From 1910 to 1915, Rawleigh worked as a photographer at Elbert Hubbard’s renowned Roycroft Arts & Crafts campus in East Aurora, NY along with photographer Paul Fournier (1888-1961), son of painter Alexis Jean Fournier (1865-1948).

Ernest served in the U.S. Army from 1915-18 and was sent to Europe during WWI, serving as the official photographer for Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing (1860-1948) During his service, Rawleigh took over 2,500 photos documenting the war and was later commended as a war hero, having been cited for valor on the battlefields of France. In Late December of 1925, Rawleigh mounted an exhibition of over 100 of his hand-colored photos made overseas during the war.

After the war, Ernest married Marie J. “Mary” (née Lipiski c.1896-1954). They had a daughter Gloria Marie Rawleigh (Mrs. William E. Wellhoff, 1921-2012) and a son Joseph G. Rawleigh (1923-1950). Their son Joseph, was a Marine in WWII, who unfortunately died in June, 1950, in a tragic sailing accident.

In 1920, Ernest was listed in the Buffalo City Directory as a reporter for the Buffalo Enquirer and during the early 1920’s, he maintained his portrait studio located at 1424 Hertel Avenue in Buffalo. From 1921-26, he worked as a pictorial staff photographer, reporter and also in the rotogravure department for The Illustrated Buffalo Express. February, 1922, was the first record of Ernest exhibiting his work at the “Third Salon of Pictorial Photography” held at the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo, for a snow scene in Delaware Park. From a 1923 newspaper ad, Ernest had also maintained another retail location called Rawleigh Pictures located at 65 Main Street in Buffalo, NY, where he sold signed reproductions from his original photographs such as, “The Face in The Shroud of Christ”, after the life-size portrait photograph (from the 1898 lantern slide of the Shroud of Turin), which had been shown and made headlines that year in Buffalo. After the Buffalo Courier and the Buffalo Express merged in 1926, to become the Buffalo Courier-Express, Ernest lost his position to the well known photo-pictorialist photographer Wilbur H. Porterfield (1873-1958). Ernest worked for another year after the merger, but decided to concentrate his efforts on commercial photography, painting as well as landscape and gardening design for the remainder of his life.

In 1929, Ernest won First Prize at the big “Yard & Garden Contest” (Amateur Division), held in Buffalo, NY, sponsored by the Buffalo Evening News, he subsequently won the First Prize at the “National Yard & Garden Contest” (Amateur Division). His entry into the national show had been sponsored by the Buffalo Evening News and the National Gardens Association, and his award was a carved stone garden bench with bronze plate. Ernest had designed and transformed the front and backyards of his bungalow in Kenmore, NY, into an ‘outdoor living room’ of beautiful gardens which had originally been a swamp lot. His garden creations were hailed as a virtual ‘fairyland’ of over 2,500 plants, flowers, vines, shrubs, juniper and evergreen trees as well as a forest-like fountain in the front yard and a pool of water lilies in the backyard garden.

Ernest passed away on January 23, 1954 in Buffalo's Veterans Hospital after a short illness. Ernest’s daughter Gloria held a memorial exhibition of his paintings and portrait photographs in late February 1954. Though Ernest may have been short in stature, standing under five feet tall, his photographs have made a huge impression not only here in the Western New York region, but nationally as well, during his prolific career and in the decades since.


Chronology:

1883- Born, Coventry, England.

1887- Immigrated to Canada with his family from Coventry, England.

Circa 1910- He immigrated to the United States shortly before WWI.

1910-Circa 1915- Rawleigh was said to have worked as a photographer at Elbert Hubbard’s (1856-1915) renowned Roycroft Arts & Crafts campus in East Aurora, NY. Though photography played a relatively minor role in the history of Hubbard’s Roycroft accomplishments, it largely centered on the work of photo-pictorialist photographer Paul Fournier (1888-1961), son of famous Roycroft Barbizon painter Alexis Jean Fournier (1865-1948), and the art and photography critic Sadakicki Hartmann (1867-1944).

From Circa 1915-18- He had enlisted in the U.S. Army and became the official photographer for the famous Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing (1860-1948) while in France during WWI, and during his service, Rawleigh took over 2,500 photos documenting the war and was later commended as a war hero, having been cited for valor on the battlefields of France.

Circa 1919- Ernest married Marie J. “Mary” (née Lipiski c.1896-1954), and they resided was at 22 Crosby Avenue in Kenmore, NY and had a daughter Gloria Marie (Mrs. William E. Wellhoff, 1921-2012) and a son Joseph G. Rawleigh (1923-1950).

1920- Ernest was listed in the Buffalo City Directory as a reporter for the Buffalo Enquirer.

During the early 1920’s- Ernest had his portrait studio located at 1424 Hertel Avenue in Buffalo and soon after, also maintained another retail location called Rawleigh Pictures located at 65 Main Street in Buffalo, NY, where he sold signed reproductions from his original photographs.

From 1921-26- He worked as a pictorial staff photographer for The Illustrated Buffalo Express and he eventually lost his position to the well known photo-pictorialist photographer Wilbur H. Porterfield (1873-1958) when the Buffalo Courier and the Buffalo Express merged to become the Buffalo Courier-Express.

1921- November 26, their daughter Gloria Marie (Mrs. William E. Wellhoff, 1921-2012) was born, Buffalo, NY.

1922- February, exhibited, group show, “Third Salon of Pictorial Photography”, for a snow scene in Delaware Park, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1923- March 20, Ernest petitioned to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Their son Joseph G. Rawleigh (1923-1950) was born (unknown month & day), Buffalo, NY.

1925- Late December, exhibited, solo show, “WWI War Photographs”, collection of over 100 colored photos made overseas during the war, shown for two weeks from his home residence at 22 Crosby Avenue, Kenmore, NY.

From 1926-27- Ernest worked for another year at the Buffalo Courier-Express after the previous merger of the Buffalo Courier and the Buffalo Express.

1929- Ernest not only won First Prize at the big “Yard & Garden Contest” (Amateur Division), held in Buffalo, NY, sponsored by the Buffalo Evening News, he subsequently also won the First Prize again at the “National Yard & Garden Contest” (Amateur Division) whose entry was also sponsored by the Buffalo Evening News and the National Gardens Association.

1942- Their son Joseph enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard during WWII, and was promoted twice during his service at sea from Seaman First Class to Coxswain.

1943- December, their son Joseph received his third promotion to the rank of Boatswain’s Mate Second Class (Petty Officer Second Class, BM2) while stationed at Charleston, SC.

1945- September 8, their daughter Gloria Marie married Staff Sgt. William E. Wellhoff (1920-2013) at St. John’s Chapel on Englewood Ave., Kenmore, NY.

Early June, 1950- Their son Joseph, who enjoyed sailing, unfortunately lost his life in a tragic sailing accident. He set sail from Port Maitland, Ontario on Sunday, June 4, and was set to arrive in Buffalo that following afternoon, but never made it. His capsized 12-foot sailboat had washed ashore that following Monday, and intensive Coast Guard and Erie County Sheriff’s Department aerial searches were conducted for several days all along the Thunder Bay region, but to no avail. Searches were called off early on Friday June 9, but shortly before 2:00pm that same day, his body was discovered washed ashore by a young boy, several miles west of Thunder Bay on the Lake Erie shore at Windmill Point. His body was transported to the Dell Funeral Home at Ridgeway, Bertie Township, Ontario, Canada.

1954- January 23, Ernest died in Veterans Hospital after a short illness. Funeral services were held Tuesday, January 26 at the William A. Rolling Funeral Home and at the St. John the Baptist Church. Ernest was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Kenmore, NY. February 2, Ernest’s wife Mary died at Kenmore Mercy Hospital after being in ill health for about seven months, and services were also held at William A. Rolling Funeral Home, and a Requiem Mass was celebrated at St. Paul's Church, Kenmore, NY, with burial also at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. February 18-28, exhibited, memorial show, paintings and portrait photographs shown, at his former residence at 22 Crosby Ave., Kenmore, NY, sponsored by their daughter Gloria.

2012- October 7, their daughter Gloria M. Wellhoff passed away, and is buried in Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, CO.

Awards/Honors: Ernest not only won First Prize at the big “Yard & Garden Contest” (Amateur Division), held in Buffalo, NY, sponsored by the Buffalo Evening News, he subsequently also won the First Prize again at the “National Yard & Garden Contest” (Amateur Division) of a carved stone garden bench with bronze plate, whose entry was also sponsored by the Buffalo Evening News and the National Gardens Association, Kenmore, NY.

Collections: A collection of 64 Ernest Rawleigh photos of the Niagara region, all dated c.1920, and include numerous landscapes and scenes of local attractions, Niagara Falls & River, Ft. Erie, local landmarks, towns & cities, regional parks, woodland scenes, buildings, and views of the Niagara Glen., The Niagara Park Commission Photographic Collection (Digital Collections), Niagara Falls Public Library, Niagara Falls, NY; A Pictorial Gravure of the Roycroft Print Shop, c.1910, The Elbert Hubbard Roycroft Museum ScheideMantel House, 363 Oakwood Ave., East Aurora, NY.

(Written by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY, meibohmfinearts.com, sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)
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