Monday, January 9, 2017

14 Paintings, British Artists at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century, Edwardian period

Luke Fildes, (1843–1927)
Portrait of King Edward VII (1841-1910), c. 1902
Oil on canvas
National Portrait Gallery
The Edwardian era or Edwardian period of British history covers the brief reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and is sometimes extended in both directions to capture long term trends from the 1890s to the First World War. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of the Victorian era. The new king Edward VII was already the leader of a fashionable elite that set a style influenced by the art and fashions of Continental Europe. Samuel Hynes described the Edwardian Era as a "leisurely time when women wore picture hats and did not vote, when the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, and the sun really never set on the British flag'".
Below the upper class, the era was marked by significant shifts in politics among sections of society that had been largely excluded from wielding power in the past, such as common labourers. Women became increasingly politicised. 
Views of the Edwardian era have swung between seeing the period as a golden summer afternoon of imperial and elite complacency and the starkly conflicting depiction of the decade as one of intense political, economic, and artistic instability leading up to the chasm of the First World War. More Edwardian Opulence

James Jebusa Shannon, (1862–1923)
Black and Silver, c. 1909 & 1910
Oil on canvas
87.3 x 103.7 cm
Royal Academy of Arts

Sir James Jebusa Shannon, (1862–1923)
Lily Elsie (also known as Mrs Bullough), circa 1916
Oil on canvas
85.1 x 69.9 cm (33 1/2  x 27 1/2 in.)
National Portrait Gallery

Lily Elsie (born Elsie Hodder; 8 April 1886 – 16 December 1962) was a popular English actress and singer during the Edwardian era, best known for her starring role in the hit London premiere of Franz Lehár's operetta The Merry Widow.
Lily Elsie
A scene from the Lehar operetta "The Count of Luxembourg," London, 1911

Beginning as a child star in the 1890s, Elsie built her reputation in several successful Edwardian musical comedies before her great success in The Merry Widow, opening in 1907. Afterwards, she starred in several more successful operettas and musicals. Admired for her beauty and charm on stage, Elsie became one of the most photographed women of Edwardian times. More Lily Elsie

Sir James Jebusa Shannon RA (1862–1923), Anglo-American artist, was born in Auburn, New York, and at the age of eight was taken by his parents to Canada.
Sir James Jebusa Shannon, (1862–1923)
The Bathers
Oil on canvas
70.5 x 91 cm
Newport Museum and Art Gallery

When he was sixteen, he went to England, where he studied at South Kensington, and after three years won the gold medal for figure painting. His portrait of the Hon. Horatia Stopford, one of the queen's maids of honour, attracted attention at the Royal Academy in 1881, and in 1887 his portrait of Henry Vigne in hunting costume was one of the successes of the exhibition, subsequently securing medals for the artist at Paris, Berlin, and Vienna.

Sir James Jebusa Shannon, (1862–1923)
The Green Apple
Oil on canvas
Private Collection

Sir James Jebusa Shannon (1862–1923)
Violet Lindsay (1856–1937), Duchess of Rutland, c. 1918
Oil on canvas
89.5 x 59 cm
National Trust, Plas Newydd
This is an exotic portrait of the second daughter of Charles Hugh Lindsay (1816–1889), granddaughter of James Lindsay, 24th Earl of Crawford and 7th Earl of Balcarres, and wife of Henry John Brinsley Manners (1852–1925), Marquess of Granby, 8th Duke of Rutland. It was, according to the artist’s inscription, given to her daughter Marjorie Manners, Marchioness of Anglesey in 1918. A champion of Aesthetic dress, here Lady Violet is wearing a cloak and Mucha-like operatic headdress. More Violet Lindsay

He soon became one of the leading portrait painters in London. He was one of the first members of the New English Art Club, a founder member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and in 1897 was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, and RA in 1909. His picture, "The Flower Girl", was bought in 1901 for the National Gallery of British Art. Shannon has paintings in the collection of a several British institutions including Sheffield, Derby Art Gallery, Glasgow Museum and Bradford Museum. More James Jebusa Shannon

James Jebusa Shannon (1862–1923)
Lady Marjorie Manners (1883–1946), Later Marchioness of Anglesey, Aged 17, c. 1900
Oil on canvas
104 x 71 cm
National Trust, Plas Newydd
This is an almost sentimental portrait of Lady Manners, daughter of the 8th Duke of Rutland and Lady Violet Lindsay, aged 17. It is an intimate and innocent portrayal of a young girl on the eve of womanhood, stroking her pug dog. The painting is a replica of another at Belvoir Castle by the American artist, who, along with his compatriot John Singer Sargent, was a leading society portrait painter in Britain at the time. More

The Edwardian era is known for beautiful and talented women. Pale skin was in, but blonde hair was out. So the Edwardian beauty was a brunette with a pale complexion.

Sir William Orpen, RA RI RHA (1878-1931)
Dame Gladys Constance Cooper
Oil on canvas
30 x 25in. (76.20 x 63½cm) 
Private collection

Gladys Cooper, former Gaiety girl and future screen star, sat for one of the most soughtafter society portrait painters of the 20th century, Sir William Orpen. The present work is a testament to the beauty of the performer and the skill and enduring quality of the artist. More

Dame Gladys Constance Cooper, DBE (18 December 1888 – 17 November 1971) was an English actress whose career spanned seven decades on stage, in films and on television.

Beginning on the stage as a teenager in Edwardian musical comedy and pantomime, she was starring in dramatic roles and silent films before the beginning of the First World War. She also became a manager of the Playhouse Theatre from 1917 to 1933, where she played many roles. Beginning in the early 1920s, Cooper was winning praise in plays by W. Somerset Maugham and others.

In the 1930s, she was starring steadily both in the West End and on Broadway. Moving to Hollywood in 1940, Cooper found success in a variety of character roles; she was nominated for three Academy Awards, the last one as Mrs. Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964). Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, she mixed her stage and film careers, continuing to star on stage until her last year. More Gladys Cooper

Sir William Orpen  (1878-1931) 
Bridgit - a picture of Miss Elvery, (Beatrice Elvery) , c. 1909 
Oil on canvas 
  43.25 x 33.25 in
Private Collection

Beatrice Moss Elvery (1883, Dublin – 1970, Rockall, Sandycove) was an Irish stained-glass artist and painter. As a young irish girl and sculpture student, developed a friendship with Orpen when she first him at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin in 1897. In later years Orpen was based in London and Beatrice had her own studio in Kildare Street, Dublin but they continued their friendship via their correspondence with each other. He would address her as 'Bridgit' and would sign himself as 'Digit'. In 1912 Beatrice married Patrick Campbell [or Gordon Campbell. He later became 2nd Baron Glenavy and she became Lady Glenavy. She moved in the highest literary circles including Yeats, Lawrence, Mansfield and Shaw. More Beatrice Elvery,

Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen, KBE, RA, RHA (27 November 1878 – 29 September 1931) was an Irish artist who worked mainly in London. Orpen was a fine draughtsman and a popular, commercially successful, painter of portraits for the well-to-do in Edwardian society, though many of his most striking paintings are self-portraits.

William Orpen (1878–1931)
The Refugee (A), c. 1918
Oil on canvas
91.4 x 76.2 cm
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

The First World War uprooted millions of European civilians, most of whom were innocent bystanders. The resulting crisis had profound consequences, not only for the individuals directly affected but also for officials and relief workers who attempted to relieve their suffering and for communities that hosted refugees. These upheavals did not end in 1918. More Refugies 

During the First World War, he was the most prolific of the official artists sent by Britain to the Western Front. There he produced drawings and paintings of ordinary soldiers, dead men, and German prisoners of war, as well as portraits of generals and politicians. Most of these works, 138 in all, he donated to the British government and they are now in the collection of the Imperial War Museum. His connections to the senior ranks of the British Army allowed him to stay in France longer than any of the other official war artists, and although he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1918 King's birthday honours list, and also elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, his determination to serve as a war artist cost him both his health and some of his social standing.

William Orpen (1878–1931)
The Refugee (B), c. 1917–1918
Oil on canvas
76.2 x 63.5 cm
IWM (Imperial War Museums))

After his early death, a number of critics, including other artists, were loudly dismissive of his work and for many years his paintings were rarely exhibited, a situation that only began to change in the 1980s. More William Newenham Montague Orpen
‘Every social status has its own interest, and to the artist it can be just as compelling to show the ways of a Queen as the habits of a dress maker’. – Marcel Proust, 1903 ‘”What are the gaieties of the Rich, the splendours of the Powerful, what is the pride of the Great, what are the gaudy pleasures of High Society?” The voice, which had risen in tone, questioningly, from sentence to sentence  dropped suddenly and boomed reply. “They are nothing. Vanity, fluff, dandelion seed in the wind, thin vapours of fever. The things that matter happen in the heart. Seen things are sweet, but those unseen are a thousand times more significant. It is the Unseen that counts in Life.” Mrs. Wimbush lowered the book. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” she said’. – Aldous Huxley, Crome Yellow, 1921
John William Godward, 1861 - 1922
STUDY OF A HEAD IN DRAPERY, MISS ETHEL WARWICK, c. 1898
Oil on canvas
60 by 50cm., 23½ by 19¾in
Private Collection

This direct study of a young woman dressed in a diaphanous toga is artist's model Ethel Warwick (1882-1951) whose image dominated Godward's work from 1898 and 1900. Usually preferring a darker haired and olive-skinned Mediterranean type of beauty for his classical fantasies, Miss Warwick was more Saxon in appearance. It seems that in the 1890s she replaced the famous Pettigrew sisters (Lily, Rose and Hetty) who Godward had painted in the 1880s. More this painting

Ethel Warwick (13 October 1882 – 12 September 1951)  was born in the Northamptonshire village of Hardingstone, She her career as a model in the later 1890s to fund her art studies at the London Polytechnic. She soon became the favourite for artist Herbert Draper.  Godward met Ethel and painted her portrait dressed in modern style, and soon became aware that Ethel was not only willing to pose nude but was entirely without self-consciousness of being naked. Ethel soon became invaluable to Godward as a nude The present picture was a transitional painting between the tentative and modest portrait of 1898 and the more erotically-charged nudes.

Girl in Yellow Drapery, MISS ETHEL WARWICK, c. 1901
Oil on canvas
30.48 cm (12 in.), Width: 60.96 cm (24 in.)
Private Collection

Although she had initially trained to be an artist and was an accomplished and successful model, Ethel also took lessons in acting and in 1900 made her stage debut in the play The Corsican Brothers at the Grande Theatre in Fulham. She was continually in demand for the next few years. Her posing ceased on 24 March 1906 when she married Edmund Waller, a young actor. The Wallers embarked on a worldwide tour with various plays, travelling through South Africa and Australia but in 1910 they returned to London and took over the management of the Queen's Theatre. In 1915 she divorced Waller but continued to live a glamorous lifestyle that she could not afford and was declared bankrupt in 1923. Despite this set-back, throughout the 1920s and 1930s she was a very successful actress. Many thousands of post-cards bearing her beautiful face continued to be bought by adoring fans and she found further fame in a series of filmst. She died in a nursing home in Bognor Regis in September 1951 aged only 68 and almost completely forgotten. However she has left countless images of her beauty, this charming picture by Godward being one of the most recently re-discovered. More Ethel Warwick

John William Godward (9 August 1861 – 13 December 1922) was an English painter from the end of the Neo-Classicist era. He was a protégé of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, but his style of painting fell out of favour with the arrival of painters such as Picasso. He committed suicide at the age of 61 and is said to have written in his suicide note that "the world is not big enough for myself and a Picasso".

His already estranged family, who had disapproved of his becoming an artist, were ashamed of his suicide and burned his papers. No photographs of Godward are known to survive. More

Thomas Benjamin Kennington,(1856-1916)
The Ace of Hearts, c. -1882
Oil on canvas
128.27 x 103.505 cm, (50½" x 40¾")
Private collection

The viewer stands witness to a magic trick. From the direct look of the young woman, the viewer feels as though he/she must be the one participating in the show. It is only after looking at the mirror on the wall that one sees the sitter is looking straight through the viewer to a gentleman who is scratching his neck and feeling quite off his guard, most likely due to the combination of the mystifying magician's trick along side the sitter's beauty and charm. The Ace of Hearts which she points to with victorious excitement would seem to indicate that she has the correct card which is also the trump card, and in fact she has all the cards in the deck. Amidst the frills and fur a leopard's head sticks out as the original owner of the now decorative throw. It is hard to say whether the expression is one of hostility toward the gentleman, letting him know to keep his distance, as a protector of the young woman, or if the look is one of terror, perhaps reflecting a sense of panic in the man, as the young seductress makes her advances. More Ace of Hearts

Thomas Benjamin Kennington (7 April 1856 – 10 December 1916) was an English genre, social realist and portrait painter. He was a founder member of the New English Art Club (NEAC) and the Imperial Arts League. Kennington was born in Grimsby in Lincolnshire and trained in art at the Liverpool School of Art, the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London, and the Académie Julian in Paris.

Thomas Benjamin Kennington,(1856-1916)
The Siesta of Dryad, c. 1898
Oil on canvas
40.64 x 30.48 cm, (16" x 12")
Private collection

A dryad is a tree nymph, or tree spirit, in Greek mythology. In Greek drys signifies "oak." Thus, dryads are specifically the nymphs of oak trees. They were normally considered to be very shy creatures, except around the goddess Artemis, who was known to be a friend to most nymphs. More Dryad

He exhibited at the Royal Academy, London from 1880–1916, and also regularly showed his work at the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) in Suffolk Street and the Grosvenor gallery. He was a founder member and first secretary of the New English Art Club (from 1886), and also founded the Imperial Arts League, whose stated purpose was to "protect and promote the interests of Artists and to inform, advise and assist. He won a bronze medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1889.

Kennington became known not only for his idealised paintings of domestic and everyday-life scenes but also for his social realist works depicted the harsh realities of life for the poor in Britain in a manner that played on the onlooker's emotions. More Thomas Kennington


Acknowledgement: Wikipedia, The National Gallery

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