Born in the close of Lincoln Cathedral, where his father was verger, Logsdail was educated at Lincoln Cathedral School and then Lincoln School of Art. Initially intending to become an architect – his rendering of buildings and topographical scenes such as this suggesting this early passion – he was encouraged to divert his attentions to painting. After winning a Gold Medal in a competition against students of other English art schools, Logsdail continued his glittering career at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Antwerp, winning first prize – the first Englishman to do so.
His promise recognised by the Royal Household, his 1880 picture The Fish Market was purchased for Osborne House. Spending the next twenty years in Venice, he focussed on the architecture, his The Piazza of St Mark’s Venice, painted in 1883, being described by the Royal Academy as picture of the year.
By 1912, following a change in direction, he was elected to the Society of Portrait painters. Before this, however, he made “quite a number of pictures of Oxford and Cambridge Colleges and [I] sold them all at 40 and 35 Guineas each.”
Skilled as he was at old buildings, and the pictures here show how the merest blush of coloured paint can emphasise old stonework or slates, portraiture suited his lifestyle better. His clients would come to him, he did not need to spend hours sketching in the outdoors. Moreover, they would pay up front and he did not need to sell the pictures after painting them. Old buildings were not so obliging.
In 1903 he moved to No 5 St Paul’s studios, Talgarth Road, Barons Court known to anybody who drives into London along the A4, and moved to Islip in Oxfordshire in 1922.