Philip Ouless

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Ouless sketch of St Aubin's Bay

This sketch of St Aubin’s Bay was made in September 1873 by Philip Ouless. The sketch shows St Matthew's Church and the windmill and coastal tower at Bel Royal. The windmill has long since disappeared, the coastal tower was blown up by the Germans during the Occupation, but the church remains and is now usually known as the 'Glass Church', because of the magnificent collection of Lalique glass which was used when the interior was refurbished. There were almost no buildings on the shoreline between Millbrook and Saint Aubin in the distance. Today, from the church westwards there is an almost unbroken line of buildings
Jersey's oldest surviving photograph. An 1845 daguerreotype of Philip Ouless in the collection of La Société Jersiaise
The artist in his studio
Philip Ouless in 1875, photographed by his son Clarence
Ouless's two sons outside the family home at 53 New Street

Philip Ouless 1817–1885

Auctioneer's son

Philip John Ouless was one of the most celebrated marine painters of Jersey, the son of an auctioneer. His grandparents emigrated from Coutances, Normandy to escape the French Revolution and Philip was born in St Helier in 1817. He studied painting in Paris but 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 nineteenth century boom in shipbuilding. As well as the new paddle steamers, Ouless painted early racing yachts.

Ouless’s 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.

Museum collections

The work of Philip John Ouless is represented in the Jersey Museum, St Helier and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Ouless advertises his new portrait service in 1845


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.

Société acquisition

In 2008 La Société Jersiaise acquired a collection of Ouless works from his family.

Family tree


Electra 1866 Ouless.jpg Ouless-South Hill.jpg Martello Ouless.jpg Queen Victoria departure Ouless.jpg

A self portrait

Sketches from albums in the possession of Jersey Archive

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