Did forgotten astronomy artist have Bradford connections? – Bradford Telegraph and Argus

Posted: April 25, 2021 at 1:44 pm

THE grave of a forgotten space art pioneer has been discovered in Nab Wood Cemetery.

Scriven Bolton was an amateur astronomer and also a skilled artist and commercial illustrator, specialising in astronomical subjects. The Yorkshiremans work appeared in books, newspapers and magazines in Britain and America and was widely considered to be scientifically accurate; reflecting the astronomical knowledge of the early 20the century.

But little has been published about him and he remains, says local historian Andrew Bolt, largely forgotten.

Despite having the same surname as the space enthusiast, Mr Bolton isnt related to him and wasnt familiar with him when he came across the grave. On one of my walks around Nab Wood Cemetery I spotted headstone of an astronomer, Scriven Bolton. So I delved into the internet and found that he was quite the character and famous for illustrations of space and the planets in the Illustrated London News, said Mr Bolton.

He must have done hundreds of amazing drawings. Looking on the internet I could find very little and no mention of where hes buried. He was from Leeds, mainly located in Bramley, but buried in Nab Wood Cemetery. I have no idea what led to his burial here.

He was Yorkshires very own pioneer on planets, but seems largely forgotten. I thought his headstone may be of interest to your readers, especially with the recent Mars landing (NASAs Mars helicopter mission).

Simeon Scriven Bolton, known as Scriven, was born in 1883 to a family of textile manufacturers. In the late 19th century his father bought into a mineral oil merchant business, which Scriven worked for, but astronomy was his passion.

In the early 1900s the family moved to Bramley in Leeds and Scriven set up his own private observatory. He also used equipment at Leeds Universitys Duncombe Observatory and was a member of Leeds Astronomical Society, among others.

Scrivens day job was an oil merchant but he also wrote astronomical observations which regularly appeared in various journals.

He was however best known for his space art and illustrations and he was on the staff of the Illustrated London News for 15 years, contributing astronomical drawings.

He developed a new method for producing realistic lunar landscapes that involved building detailed plaster models of the surface of the moon, which he would then photograph then paint over. He often painted stars and other details onto the final print.

His work is said to have influenced other astronomical illustrators and, later, special effects specialists working in the movies.

Scrivens space art became popular with academics and amateur enthusiasts at a time when there was much speculation about the planets, and debates on whether the earth had a second moon.

His illustrations included lunar landscapes and scenes on Mercury, Venus and Mars and he took care in making his art scientifically accurate, illustrating astronomical ideas of the time.

His work appeared in a popular astronomy publication Splendour of the Heavens, which featured around 1,000 illustrations.

Scriven died aged 46 on Christmas Day 1929, after catching influenza.

He had been in the process of installing a new telescope in his observatory.

The University of Leeds pays tribute to Scriven with an annual lecture named in his honour.

But why is he buried in Nab Wood Cemetery?

* Anyone with information about Sriven Bolton is asked to email emma.clayton@nqyne.co.uk

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Did forgotten astronomy artist have Bradford connections? - Bradford Telegraph and Argus

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