From the Archive: Henry Harris Lines

Landscape artist Henry Harris Lines was the eldest son of one of the founding members of the RBSA, Samuel Lines.

He had a keen interest in archaeology and was an accomplished artist working in oil, watercolours, pencil and chalk.

Many of his works are housed in permanent collections at various galleries, including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum, and of course the RBSA Gallery.

Henry Lines had four siblings: William Rostill Lines (1802–1846), Samuel Rostill Lines (1803–1833), Edward Ashcroft Lines (1807–1875) and Frederick Thomas Lines (1808–1898). He married Emma Lacey and had three daughters: Elizabeth, Emma and Catherine.

Lines moved from Birmingham to Worcester in 1832 to escape the cholera epidemic, and didn’t discover his passion for archaeology until the later years of his life. According to his daughter he did not take up the hobby until the age of sixty.

His interest persisted throughout his seventies, although it began to falter in his early eighties due to his failing eyesight.

While living in Worcester, Lines was a member of the Worcester Archaeological Club, and was known to travel to North Wales every summer to explore the ancient stone monuments.


Henry Harris Lines, Colwall Oaks, 1877, Pencil, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, Birmingham, 302mm x 389mm, © the artist’s estate, photo credit: Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

His interest in archaeology directly influenced his artwork.

Colwall Oaks (1877) is close to an Iron Age hill fort camp in the Malvern Hills, which was of particular interest to Lines. The inscriptions at the bottom of this sketch suggest that Lines was attempting to date the trees – a common practice among archaeologists.

When researching Henry Harris Lines, my main sources of information were the RBSA website, the artist’s Wikipedia page and Connie Wan’s thesis on the Lines family.

As an Ancient History and Archaeology student at the University of Birmingham, Lines interested me as he directly relates to my main area of study. I thought that it would be a good use of my time at the RBSA to consider the possibilities of a relationship between archaeology and art.

By Ellie Dargavel

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