Winstanley was an artistic contributor to the New South Wales Sporting Magazine during the late 1840s. He is best known for his images of racehorses and sporting scenes. During the 1830s Winstanley formed a partnership with his father as a scene painter. He was a competent silhouette artist.
painter, sketcher and silhouette artist, was born in Lancashire, eldest son of William Winstanley . With his parents, sisters and brothers he came to Sydney in the Adventure , arriving on 2 May 1833. Although William Moore called Winstanley 'self-taught’ as a painter, he was presumably taught by his father. Even so, his artistic precocity was such that his skill in taking profiles was reported in the Sydney Monitor just two weeks after the family reached Sydney:
With a pair of scissors, and a small piece of paper, he cuts the features in the same way as an artist would apply himself with his pencil. When the profile is completed by the cutting, that of shading with Indian Ink is resorted to, to throw the prominent parts of the features into relief , and the likeness is then fixed on a card with gum … His terms are very moderate. He appears about eight years of age, but we believe he is older.
He was still reportedly taking 'the best likenesses in profile we ever saw’ in July. By October 1834, however, he had joined his father in partnership: 'Mr. Winstanley & Son’ were scene-painters at Sydney’s Theatre Royal.
At the age of twenty-three, Edward Winstanley painted the original watercolours for a set of four lithographs put on the stone by Thomas Balcombe , The Five-Dock Grand Steeple-Chase, 1844 , and established a new reputation as a sporting artist.
He drew and lithographed Don Quixote’s Remarkable Adventure with the Cattle and Don Quixote Returning Home Again c.1844 (on squatters defeating Governor Gipps’s land regulations), inscribed 'on stone by E.W./ R.Clint lith. 36 Hunter St Sydney’.
In 1846 he painted a watercolour portrait of Nazeer Farrib, an arab stallion owned by Sydney’s first postmaster-general, James Raymond of Varroville, near Minto. In 1847 his painting of the famous colonial racehorse Jorrocks, with John Higgerson in the saddle, was reproduced in Bell’s Life in Sydney . A later watercolour portrait of Jorrocks (1848, National Library of Australia) is annotated: 'This Veteran of the Turf though now nearly 18 years of age still retains his racing qualities/ Between the years 1840 and 1848 he won 44 races realizing for his owners the sum of £2688. Sydney Nov. 1849.’
Winstanley’s watercolour Race Horses and his oil painting A Hunting Scene (both then owned by the prominent solicitor, sportsman and amateur rider, Charles Cooper Turner) were shown with the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Australia in 1847. The Sydney Morning Herald described the former as 'neatly coloured and drawn with some spirit in the style of English coloured engravings’, but thought 'the oil showed much more genius’. Winstanley’s address was given as care of J. Grocott, the stationer and bookseller of 476 George Street. He was represented in the society’s 1849 exhibition by Grimaldi , another horse portrait, lent by Mr Samuel.
Winstanley was the principal artistic contributor to the New South Wales Sporting Magazine . He designed its decorative cover, which featured saddlery and riding gear, rod and fishing net, gun and game, bow and arrow, kangaroos and greyhound, and cricket bat. The first issue (October 1848) had his lithograph of Jorrocks as its frontispiece, the second (November) a lithograph after his portrait of the racehorse Cassandra, while the December issue included his illustration of the start of the famous race between Slasher and Highflyer run in 1845. The fourth and final issue (January 1849) featured his The Leap, Block and Highflyer . Other Winstanley illustrations included a yacht (after Frederick Garling ), landscapes and portraits. Like other sporting artists, particularly Joseph Fowles , he also painted marine scenes, eg. The Barque Honduras off Fort Macquarie (1848, watercolour, Mitchell Library [ML]). He contributed to a lithograph of the new Sydney Post Office dating from the end of the l840s, the architectural detail being drawn by F.G. Lewis, son of Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis – designer of the building – the figures and horses in the foreground by Winstanley (copies Dixson Galleries and Northern Regional Library, Launceston). From stylistic evidence a lively sketch of Mortimer Lewis Out Riding (ML) seems certain to be Winstanley’s work too.
Winstanley died of consumption at his mother’s residence in Phillip Street, Sydney, on 4 August 1849. His headstone in Camperdown Cemetery is carved with a painter’s palette. Bell’s Life stated that 'as an animal and marine painter the deceased possessed talents of the highest order’.