When I was a child, my father built a high fidelity sound system and, in the evening, his friends came over to listen to records. I grew to love music.
My grandmother realized I was a musician so she gave me the piano her children had used. Later, I received as a reward the above-featured image: The Child Händel. It was monochrome: sepia and ivory, but I thought it was a beautiful picture.
After I was married, I had it mounted on a board so that I could hang it on a wall. It has since followed me, from house to house.
Margaret Isabel Dicksee
However, I could not remember the name of the artist who had created the painting. The name was removed when the print was mounted.
I found the print and the name of the artist when searching for images of Händel, but I also found a book in which it was featured. The artist is Margaret Isabel Dicksee (22 January 1858 – 6 June 1903) and the painting is one of two paintings Walter Shaw Sparrow (1862 – 1940) selected when he published his 1905 Women Painters of the World, from the time of Caterina Vigri, 1413–1463, to Rosa Bonheur and the present day. The second painting is In Memoriam.
Women Painters of the World
I believe yesterday’s more important discovery was Mr. Sparrow’s book. Traditionally, women have been busy weaving fabric and doing needlework rather than painting. Therefore, before 1905, the year Mr. Sparrow’s collection was published, very few books, if any, had showcased women artists. Mr. Sparrow may have known Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot. He may also have known Margaret Isabel Dicksee herself. She died at the age of 45, two years before Women Painters of the World was published. Artist Ralph Peacock wrote that Miss Dicksee “left behind the evidence of a most lovable nature.”
About Miss Dicksee
Margaret was the daughter of Thomas Francis Dicksee, an artist, and the sister of artists Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee PRA KCVO and Herbert Dicksee (14 June 1862 – 20 February 1942). The latter specialized in oil paintings of dogs. If you click on the following link, pooches will appear:
Several of Margaret Isabel Dicksee’s paintings are well-known pieces. Her painting showing Richard Brinsley Sheridan at the Linley’s is a familiar work, but its fame may rest, to a certain extent, on its subject matter: Sheridan at the Linley’s. Sheridan was the Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan who married Elizabeth Ann Linley, an accomplished singer.
Dicksee also made a painting of Swift with his Stella. But is it the Jonathan Swift? Jonathan Swift’s Stella was a grown woman, not a child.
Although several of Miss Dicksee’s paintings portray identified and historical figures, her work can also be associated with genre paintings, or scenes from everyday life. This is a characteristic of her art. You may also notice a theme: learning and teaching.
(Photo credit: Google Images and Corbis)
Let me invite you to look at Sparrow’s book. You will at times be twisting your neck, but it is a well-chosen selection of paintings by women. The music is by Händel, whom the British adopted. He regaled his British public with his Messiah 1741; HMV 56), his Water Music (1717; Suites 348, 349, 350), his music for the Royal Fireworks (1749; HWV 351), and other masterful compositions. He also composed intimate music, such as his pieces for the harpsichord. The video I have embedded is too long, but…
Sources and Resources
Women Painters of the World is a Gutenberg [EBook #39000] publication ←
Women Painters of the World are an Internet Archive publication
The Journal of Swift to Stella is a Gutenberg [EBook #4208] publication
Google Images: Margaret Dicksee
 Germaine Greer, The Obstacle Race (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979), p. 314. (Ralph Peacock, in Women Painters of the World, pp. 69 – 70. [EBook #39000])
© Micheline Walker
26 October 2015