This English artist was born in London in 1857 and was a noted painter of sporting and military scenes and portraits. In particular, he painted horses with some skill.
He studied at the Slade School and went as a special artist for "The Graphic" to South Africa in 1900. As well as being a painter, he contributed to "The Boys' Own Paper", "Chums", "The Strand Magazine" and a number of other illustrated journals of the time.
Wollen was particularly interested in Rugby Union football and exhibited a painting at the Royal Academy on this theme as early as 1879. His painting The Rugby Match depicts a game from 1893 between Yorkshire and Lancashire, shortly before the "Great Divide" of 1895 split the game between Rugby Union and Rugby League. So strong was the feeling when many players from Yorkshire and Lancashire defected to the new Rugby League that those who did were apparently airbrushed out of the original painting by the Rugby Union authorities! The painting was formerly displayed at the Otley Club in Yorkshire, but is now held at the Rugby Football Union headquarters in Twickenham.
William Barnes Wollen's work was a familiar sight at the Royal Institute from 1879 and he also exhibited at the Royal Academy. He was awarded a Silver Medal in Paris in 1899 at the Exposition Universelle.