Sophie Anderson (1823-c.1898)

The genre painter Sophie Anderson, known for her typically sentimental pictures of Victorian children, was born in France, daughter of a Parisian architect and English mother. She was largely self taught, though studying portrait painting briefly under Baron Charles von Steuben in Paris. In 1848, with the Revolution, she went with her family to America, residing in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. There she became a successful portrait painter, and married another painter, the Englishman Walter Anderson. She returned with her husband to England in 1854, living first in the north (Dalston), then moving south. However, ill health caused them to spend more and more time in the warmer climate of Italy, and they took up full time residence in Capri by 1871. Anderson continued to send her work back to England for exhibition, and returned herself in 1894, living in Falmouth.

Above all, Sophie Anderson is known for pictures of over-sweet little girls, sometimes boys, and with titles such as 'Peek a boo' and 'Little Red Riding Hood'. But her technique was good, and her depiction of nature almost photographic, with the flowers and leaves in her paintings most naturalistic. She also took particular care over her depiction of fabrics and drapery, and often the light effects in her pictures are of great merit. As well as children, Anderson also produced some pictures of grown-ups, including subjects from literature, and some with a somewhat Orientalist bent.

Her best known work is No Walk Today, showing a little girl looking out at the rain sadly. The Children's Storybook is in the collection of the Birmingham gallery, a feeble Neapolitan Child is at Leicester, and a more serious picture is Elaine (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), the subject being from Tennyson's poem 'Lancelot and Elaine'.

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