Wynford Dewhurst was born in Manchester in 1864. He was educated at home by a private tutor and later at Mintholme College. Although he originally trained to enter the legal profession, he showed artistic flair and decided to pursue a career as a painter after some of his drawings were published in various journals.
He gained his artistic training in France at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in Paris, where he was a pupil of the renowned French painter Jean-L??on Gerome. Despite his teacher Gerome rejection of the radical Impressionist movement in favour of a highly finished academic style (Gerome continued the development and conservation of French Neoclassicism), Dewhurst was heavily influenced by the Impressionists. It is well known that he first encountered Impressionism, to which he was instantly attracted, in the work of Emile Claus in the Maddocks Collection in Bradford. However his most important mentor would become Claude Monet.
It was Monet to whom Dewhurst dedicated his pioneering account of French Impressionism, Impressionist Painting: its genesis and development, in 1904. This was the first important study of the French painters to be published in English. As well as helping to reintroduce British artists to this style of painting, Dewhurst book called attention to the French Impressionists debt to the British artists John Constable and J. M. W. Turner, claiming that the Impressionists simply developed their existing painterly techniques. According to Dewhurst, artists who, like himself, painted in an impressionist manner, were often sneered at for imitating a foreign style, and he was keen to justify their position. French artists simply developed a style which was British in its conception, he wrote, a view that was dismissed by some French painters - such as Pissarro - who revealed his national bias when he acknowledged Constable and Turner but identified instead French influences like Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Jean-Baptiste-Sim??on Chardin and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. The thesis that Dewhurst put forward in Impressionist Painting was controversial for it dealt with the debated question of whether Impressionism was French or British in origin. However, it found much support in Britain: Kevin McConkey informs us that Dewhurst theme was taken up by others as various as Clausen, John Rothenstein and Kenneth Clark Nevertheless, Dewhurst detailed biographical notices of the most prominent artists associated with the rise of impressionism in France...leave little to be desired from the historical point of view. It is worth noting that Impressionist Painting also included an entire chapter on female artists, since modernity is the note of Impressionism, and that movement was the very first artistic revolt in which women took part. Indeed, Dewhurst thanks the celebrated female painter Mary Cassatt (who worked within the Impressionist circle) for her assistance in the preface of his book.