Tributes paid to popular Whittlesey artist who passed away aged 90

Tributes have been paid to popular Whittlesey artist John Caesar Smith who passed away this month, aged 90.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 4:55 am
John Caesar Smith.

Caesar was a popular and well-known character in the town of Whittlesey where he ran the Letter A Gallery with his wife Trish for over 45 years.

He had a great relationship with so many in the community and was famous for wearing his fisherman’s hat around town.

He passed away on July 1 after a short illness.

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One of Caesar's paintings.

Born in Fletton in 1930, Caesar had a natural love of the countryside and was awarded an arts scholarship to Deacon’s Grammar School to follow his passion.

Sadly, his father passed away soon after his scholarship began and at the age of 15 he became an apprentice in the field of engineering.

He worked for Mitchell Engineering for 25 years as a draughtsman and eventually became Chief Planning Officer. In this role, he had a major hand in designing many of the power stations that were built in Britain and Southern Ireland during the fifties and sixties. He also completed his national service in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and even gained the rank of sergeant.

At age 40, in 1970, however, Caesar had a change in career and left the “rat race” to throw himself into his great passion, art.

He renovated the 17th century thatched public house, the Letter “A” on Whitmore Street, Whittlesey, into a studio specialising in pottery and producing many artistic ceramic tiles, and eventually turned to painting as his main vocation.

He specialised in oil painting and is best described as a romantic landscape artist, tying in with his love of nature. His artwork achieved great acclaim and was sold in 18 countries across the world. Caesar Smith was also named among the 100 best artists of the last century in Adrian Vincent’s 1989 book- 100 Years of Traditional British Painting.

He leaves behind a loving wife, two children, Kim and Nicholas as well as three grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Caesar’s son Nicholas said: “Dad was a very educated man, he had a very high IQ and a fantastic memory; he loved his crosswords and quiz games.

“He was quite a character and was really funny but he didn’t suffer fools gladly.

He also had an array of talents, he travelled Europe and spoke French, German and Italian, he was also a wine connoisseur and, with Trish on his arm, became an accomplished ballroom dancer, dancing across the country and even on the cruise ship Canberra.

“I will always remember him as a kind and loving dad. Everybody loved him and I have no doubt we would have had a really large turnout for his funeral if it was not for the current restrictions.”