British painter and printmaker of Australian birth, Mortimer Menpes was born in Port Adelaide. He studied at the Adelaide School of Design with John Hood. In 1875, his family moved to London and three years later, he attended the South Kensington School of Design where he studied with Edward John Poynter.
Menpes went on a sketching tour of Brittany in 1880 and later in that year he met Whistler. He left art school to study composition and etching techniques under Whistler’s tutelage and, eventually he became Whistler’s chief studio assistant and artistic follower. Like Whistler, he was greatly influenced by the art of Japan, most notably Japan’s woodblock prints. Soon Menpes was exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy.
He was elected to the Royal Society of Painters and Etchers in 1881 and in 1885 he became a member of the Society of British Artists. Menpes produced one of the most comprehensive bodies of etchings ever completed by a European in the East.