Born in Cheltenham, England, Robert Pengelly developed his draughtmanship through observation. Formally trained at the City and Guilds of London Art School, Pengelly feels that his most valuable art education came from studying the paintings at the National Gallery, the British Collection at the Tate Gallery and the Sheepshanks Collection of Victorian paintings and the watercolor collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. From 1974 to 1984 at the British Museum, Pengelly refined his skills working as an archaeological illustrator for the Department of Prehistoric and Romano-British Antiquities. Relocating to Sacramento, California in 1985, Pengelly has found his creative niche.
His style combines a studied use of watercolor with the texture of the paper to produce the sense of realism that characterizes his works. There is, however, much more to his work than a mere verbatim translation of image onto paper. Pengelly adds the sense and experience of the scene to his paintings. Houses assume their own character and life. His paintings of inanimate objects are really portraits that explore the duality of person and persona—the mask, the façade that hides beneath its surface the lurking dark side of Victorian morality and suppressed sexuality.
Pengelly’s work has won two awards in the annual national juried exhibition, Watercolor U.S.A. 2001 at the Springfield Art Museum in Springfield, Missouri. He has appeared as a featured artist in New Horizons in American Realism, a 1991 traveling exhibition devoted to focusing comprehensive attention on contemporary American Realist painting. Pengelly’s paintings are exhibited throughout the United States and London, and are part of the permanent collections of the University galleries at Stanford and Davis, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Sutter Club, Kaiser Permanente and the Sacramento City Hall (through the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission).