"Mrs Stokes' aim is to build up, evolve, create some beautiful thing: a picture which shall be, in the broadest sense of the word, a piece of 'decoration' for a wall, harmonious and beautiful." [critic writing in 1900]
Marianne Stokes was born in Southern Austria (Marianne Preindlsberger), and studied art under Lindenschmidt in Munich. While in that city, she had the good fortune and talent to win prize money left by a drawing master a hundred years before for the best Styrian art student a century after his death. Afterwards, financially independent, she made her way to France, studying under Dagnan-Bouveret, Courtois and Colin. Her first Salon picture, Reflection (1884) was shown the next year at the Royal Academy, and then in Liverpool, where it was purchased for the Museum and Art Gallery. Others of her early pictures are in Munich, Austria and America. In Pont Aven she met the English painter Adrian Stokes. They were married in 1884, and travelled considerably before settling in England at St Ives, Cornwall. Marianne Stokes exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy from the end of the 1870s through to the 1900s, and her work included portraiture and historical painting somewhat in the style of the later Pre-Raphaelites, though while at St Ives she was a member of the Newlyn School, and could be described rather as a colourist. She also largely abandoned oil painting to work in gesso and tempera. Much of her later work used flat compositions with a purposeful avoidance of any perspective, in the manner of woodcuts.
Marianne Stoke's work is not easy to find in the galleries. Apart from Reflections mentioned above, Candlemas Day is hidden away in the Tate Gallery, and Childhood's Treasures is in the Nottingham Castle Art Gallery. A portrait of John Westlake is in the National Portrait Gallery. A tapestry, Honour the Women, is in the Whitworth collection in Manchester.