Illustrations by Women Artists

Ophelia, by Amelia Bauerle

This page draws attention to some of the main female illustrators of the Victorian and early Edwardian ages. Many young artists started with illustration as a way of earning money, but abandoned the art as soon as they were able to be successful in oil painting. However for young ladies, who had a difficult choice if they wished to be full-time artists, illustration was an option that allowed them to work part time. So while there are rather few important Victorian women painters, there are relatively a much larger proportion of women illustrators. Here are considered a variety of full-time illustrators, occasional illustrators, and painters who did some illustration. The choice is by taste only, and some of the most important ones are not included.

"Six mornings a week the Burlington Gardens is invaded by groups of young ladies laden with portfolios and cases of drawing materials. These are the girl-students of the RA. Most of them are quite young and the number who exceed 21 is very small indeed... All these young women might have made up their minds to be Angelica Kauffmanns or Rosa Bonheurs, or to die in the attempt. Yet such is the irresistible force of circumstances that probably not more than 2 or 3 per cent ever become professional artists and exhibitors 'upstairs'."

Reynolds and Angelica Kauffmann, by Helen Allingham

The Royal Academy Schools took in girl students from the year 1861, although no bar had existed to them applying before, except that there was no space for a separate life drawing studio for women. Entrance was exactly as for the men - by drawing from the antique, with a second drawing being made on the premises within two months. Success meant a three year studentship, or exceptionally six years, starting with perspective, the elements of drawing, and then the Preliminary Painting School. The Upper Painting School or life school separated the female from the male students, and the former painted entirely from the costume model,

'since only an insignificant proportion of the female students become professional artists, it has been thought unnecessary and undesirable that in the Ladies' Life School there should be any study of the undraped model'.

Among girl-students of the Royal Academy Schools were Helen Allingham, Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale and Margaret Dicksee, the latter two being illustrators only occasionally.

From a picture by Margaret Dicksee

The South Kensington School - the National Art Training School - was intended to teach art teachers for the country:

"At Kensington everybody is in grim earnest, for the primary object is to turn out masters and mistresses... the vast majority of the students intend that art shall be the business rather than the solace of their lives."
In fact the School took both those studying to become teachers and private fee-paying students who could do what they chose, and did not have to take the series of exams leading to the certificates necessary to find employment as a school art teacher. As at the Royal Academy Schools, the first study was drawing from the antique, with a progression through to the life school. Unlike at the Academy, girl-students were able to paint the half draped or costume model alternately with the nude female model, and there was an emphasis on applied and decorative art, with male and female students together. Students of the South Kensington School who illustrated at least occasionally included Amelia Bauerle, Lady Butler, Kate Greenaway, Evelyn Paul and Mary Ellen Edwards.

Bookplate by Celia Levetus

Outside London, the Birmingham School of Art was extremely important in training book illustrators, and Kate Bunce, Georgina Gaskin, Celia Levetus and Mary Newill all studied there. Herkomer's Bushey School trained Lucy Kemp Welch, primarily a painter, but who illustrated Black Beauty, and the illustrator Amy Sawyer was another favorite pupil there.

Studying abroad was an option for the well off - for example Louise Jopling went to a Paris atelier and Clara Montalba learned to paint in Paris and Venice. Both of these were important painters and occasional illustrators.

Once established, more successful artists like Lady Laura Alma Tadema would have their own substantial studios [fc02311 mod art] and Kate Greenaway made enough money to have large artist-built house in Hampstead.

Lady Butler in studio Windsor 11 1899/1900 Maud Earl studio Windsor 9 1898/9

Coming Home, from Romola

The art The woodblock illus included above all the Bham School: Gertrude M Bradley 650 Celia Levetus Windsor 9 1898/9 Decorated page - EF Brickdale headpiece 134 Pall Mall 7 1895, tailpiece Pallmall 10 1896 Full page Bauerle Windsor 11 1899 - art nouveauish; Windsor 9 1898/9 Simple line illus Brikdale Headpieces Georgina Gaskin Jessie M King Levetus Helen Stratton Gertrude M Bradley Mary Newill Amelia Bauerle Normal illus Kate Greenaway Helen Allingham MEE Maud Clarke Clara Olmstead Caroline Slader Miriam Kerns Great Painters Lady Butler Lucy Kemp Welch Louisa Starr Canziani Clara Montalba Margaret Dicksee Kate Bunce Wash, Watercolour Beatrix Potter Evelyn Paul Frances Ewan Marcella Walker Beatrice Offor MEE Quiver 1876, Miriam Kerns ditto, Caroline Slader ditto, Clara Olmstead Windsor 26 1907 Kemp-welk Windsor 9 1898/9 Maud Clarke EIM88 Clara Montalba EIM1887 Louisa Starr Canziani Strand 1891 Towards turn of century and beyond, full page pics of a rather sentimental nature once again were popular, Marcella Walker mwalker Windsor 25 1906/7, Beatrice Offor ditto; both in Windsor 9 1898/9 also Colour pics ditto - Alice Havers Salley in our Alley Pall Mall 10 1896 Wash Frances Ewan PallMall10 1896; Windsor 11 1899/1900; Windsor 9 1898/9 Portraits - Kempwelk Windsor 9 1898/9 Margaret Dicksee ditto

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