Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding (22 November 1787 – 3 March 1855), was an English painter born in Sowerby, near Halifax and famous for his watercolour landscapes. Copley Fielding was a painter of much elegance, taste and accomplishment and has always been highly popular with purchasers. He painted a vast number of all sorts of views including marine subjects.
At an early age Fielding became a pupil of John Varley. He was named after the Flemish Baroque painter Anthony van Dyck (1599 – 1641) and possibly the American painter John Singleton Copley (probably 1738 – 1815) too. Anthony Fielding was born in Yorkshire in 1787. He learned to paint by copying his father’s landscapes and received instruction from John Varley. Fielding was a talented watercolour painter. His father, Nathan Fielding (1746/7 – 1819), had exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and was also a watercolour painter, as was Fielding’s brother Theodore (1781 – 1851).
Fielding toured north Wales as a young man at twenty-one in 1808. He moved to London in 1810 and was elected associate of the Society of Painters in Water Colours. He made numerous trips within England and visited north Wales again in 1811. He became an associate exhibitor in the Old Water-colour Society, in 1813 a full member and in 1831 President of that body, until his death.
Fielding painted some oil paintings, such as A Scene on the Coast, Merionethshire – Storm Passing Off 1818, which were shown at the Royal Academy and the British Institution.
In 1824 he won a gold medal at the Paris Salon alongside Richard Parkes Bonington and John Constable.
He was better known for his prolific output in watercolors, shown at the Society of Painters in Water Colours, of which he became the deputy president in 1823 and 1831.
He also engaged largely in teaching the art and made ample profits. He later moved to Park Crescent in Worthing and died in the town in March 1855.
Specimens of his work from 1829 to 1850 can be seen in the water-colour gallery of the Victoria and Albert Museum and other major museums. Among the engraved specimens of his art is the Annual of British Landscape Scenery, published in 1839.
Fielding specialised in large-scale watercolours, for example, ‘Ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, Yorkshire’ from 1839, now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He worked closely with his father. They moved to Liverpool in 1807 and then to Wales in 1808. Fielding studied with John Varley (1778 – 1842) in 1810. He exhibited for the first time at the Society of Painters in Water-Colours (later known as the Royal Society of Watercolours) in the same year. He won a gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1824, along with John Constable (1776 – 1837), although he never visited France.
In the last two decades of his life Fielding spent most of his time in the studio reworking earlier compositions and his work became repetitive as a result. His watercolours remained popular with purchasers though and during his career he exhibited over 1700 landscape and marine scenes.
Fielding’s watercolor landscapes were extremely popular, despite the voices of critics who called his art formulaic. Many have noted their parallels with works by J. M. W. Turner.