Philip John Ouless studied painting in Paris, then returned to St Helier where he established himself as a marine, landscape and portrait painter. He received numerous commissions from ship owners and masters, benefiting from the 19th-century boom in shipbuilding. As well as the new paddle steamers, Ouless painted early racing yachts.
Ouless’ views of Jersey were engraved and sold to the increasing number of visitors to the island. He recorded the visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Jersey in 1846 in eleven watercolours, which were published the following year. Ouless also recorded a number of events, particularly shipwrecks, which were reproduced in the Illustrated London News. He died at 53 New Street, St Helier in 1885. His son Walter Ouless RA (1848-1933) became a portrait painter. Walter's daughter Catherine (1879-1961) was also an accomplished artist.
Philip Ouless was not only an accomplished artist, but he was a pioneering photographer, introducing the daguerrotype process to the island in 1845 after a visit to France, during which he received instructions from the first pupil of Louis Daguerre, who invented the process which created the first permanent photographs in 1839. There had been a demonstration of daguerreotypes in Jersey the following year.
The process, which produced a one-off image on a silvered plate, was the first photographic process in general circulation. It was widely used for commercial portraiture in the 1840s but could not survive the development of paper-based photographs which could be produced an unlimited number of times from negatives. The daguerrotype photograph of Ouless himself was found in a collection of his son, Clarence Ouless's photographs given to La Société Jersiaise in 2006, and is Jersey's oldest surviving photograph. It is not known whether it is a self portrait or was taken by one of his contemporaries, Henry Mullins. Clarence Ouless bought the complete collection of Mullins' negatives after his death, but the daguerreotype, together with some unexposed plates of similar vintage, was in an envelope which is thought to bear Clarence Ouless's handwriting, and if the date when it was taken was 1845, this was three years before Mullins set up in business in Jersey, using the calotype photographic process, which used negatives to produce paper prints.
No other photographs of or by Philip Ouless survive, but it is unlikely that an artist of his standing would have failed to attract business with the advertisement he placed in 1845 offering his new portrait service.
- Ouless works acquired by La Société Jersiaise
- Ouless etchings of the visit of Queen Victoria to Jersey in 1846
- Ouless views of Jersey, a book published by Philip Ouless in the 1860s
- Descendants of Philippe Joseph Oulez Added 2016
This gallery contains a large collection of Ouless works - click on any image to see a full-size version. Other Ouless works can be found by following the three links above
Ouless's two sons outside the family home at 53 New Street. We have not been able to find any record of the name Paradise Row in Jersey street directories or census returns. Philip Ouless sold collections of etchings with the imprint '53 Paradise Row' and it may be that he believed this to be a more impressive address than 53 New Street
Ouless made several trips to Les Ecréhous not long before he died, to sketch and paint the offshore islets
Laying the foundation stone of Victoria College