Ralph Peacock (b.1868)

The painter and illustrator Ralph Peacock was born in Wood Green, London. He trained as a civil servant, but took evening art classes at the South Lambeth Art School. When aged 18, the artist John Pettie saw one of his portraits, and was impressed enough that he recommended the young man become a full-time artist. Following his advice, Peacock attended the St John's Wood Art School for a year, and then in 1887 was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools. Among his fellow students there was Gerald Moira. Peacock won a gold medal and travelling scholarship from the Royal Academy for his historical painting Victory, showing a Gaul with supplicant woman pleading on behalf of a captured Roman, and in 1892 travelled around the Mediterranean and Switzerland. Some of his works are quite Symbolist in tone. Later on, he made a career as a successful portraitist, among his sitters being Holman Hunt. But he specialised in elegant ladies, and oversweet little girls.

Peacock also did book illustration from around 1890, signing his rather lively wash drawings with a flourishing signature or simple R. P.

While illustrations by Peacock are widely distributed in the magazines of the day, including Punch, paintings by him are hard to find. A double portrait called The Sisters is in the collection of the Tate Gallery - the older girl in this picture became Peacock's wife. Another group portrait, The Marvin Sisters, is in the J. B. Speed Art Museum in America.

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