Wirth-Miller 27 November 1915 – 27 October 2010
Wirth-Miller, surviving civil partner of the late Richard Wasey Chopping
(obituary Wivenhoe News Summer 2008) with whom he had shared his life
for 71 years, has died of end-stage vascular dementia. Born in Folkestone,
of a Bavarian father and an English mother, Denis began work as a commercial
artist at the age of 16, leaving this work in 1939. Although without any
formal art training, he remained a full time painter from then on. His work
appeared in a number of exhibitions, from 1944 on, and his first big break
was the purchase by HM The Queen of his Landscape for the Royal
Collection in 1953. Denis had a distinctive style, both in his landscapes
of East Anglia and of Dartmoor, and in his studies of dogs in motion.
He was one of Francis Bacon’s closest friends – although the
relationship has been described as stormy – and they worked together on a
number of paintings in the 1950s.
in Wivenhoe for about 65 years. He and Dicky Chopping bought The Store House
on Wivenhoe Quay in 1944, but because of wartime restrictions they did not
actually move in until a year or so later. They completely renovated the
old warehouse, putting in the bay windows on the ground and first floor
which have made the building such a handsome feature of the waterfront.
True characters, the two artists came to Wivenhoe as a confident established
couple in times of illegality. They did not hide behind net curtains. The
contribution they made to the life of Wivenhoe helped produce the
cosmopolitan and tolerant society it is today. With them came a slew of
interesting and talented people – the last of the Bloomsbury set. But by
the same token, they were extremely generous, and were great fundraisers.
After the war they did a lot of charitable work, alongside Marjorie Dean,
raising money for the orphans and children of war-torn Europe. Denis was
also a keen gardener, and a member of WAGA.
up painting in 1975 because of deteriorating vision, and he put up with this
disability for the rest of his life without whingeing. Although no longer
actively painting, he took a keen interest in the work and development of
young artists in Wivenhoe. Denis and Dicky, this colourful pair who between
them were a true creative force, had been together as a couple for 71 years
by the time that Dicky died in 2008.
in Colchester General Hospital on 27 October 2010. He donated his body to
Cambridge University Hospital for medical research. We shall not see the
like of him again.
Chapman, executor and friend