Marcus Stone RA (1840-1921)

From the 'Graphic' Gallery of Beauty

Marcus Stone, an influential genre painter, was the son of Frank Stone RA. His first picture at the RA, when he was only 18 years old, was Rest (1858), showing a knight asleep underneath a tree. In 1859, the death of his father meant that Stone had to support himself, and for this reason he ventured into book illustration, with the encouragement of Charles Dickens, to whom he had sent an example of his work. He had some modest success in line, most notably at the end of the 1860s for Trollope's works. In any case, a series of oil paintings of historical and literary subjects in the 1860s firmly established his reputation. The Fainting of Hero (1861) was greatly praised by Leighton, and Return from Waterloo to Paris (1863) was also well received. Stone became ARA in 1877, and RA in 1887. Later, he became much influenced by French painting, and from this time he produced genre works tending to grace and prettiness, rest rather than action, and it is these paintings that are most readily associated with Stone today. His most prolific and popular work was a series of paintings showing decorative maidens, such as A First Love Letter, and couples - A Honeymoon, A Prior Attachment, Amour ou Patrie, A Stolen Kiss, Fallen Out and its companion Reconciled, and In Love - the simple titles explain the pictures accurately. He also did many threesomes with similar genre themes - In the Shade (a forlorn maiden determinedly ignoring two lovers), Two's Company, Three's None, Married for Love (a girl with her chosen young man, with a distant rejected older but richer suitor), and A Sailor's Sweetheart (a young lady ignoring two persons gossiping about her).

To quote the Art Journal, Stone was 'at all times a charming painter, and this, together with his beautifully refined sense of colour, smoothness of texture and finish, have won for him a wide and enduring popularity'. His pictures were much reproduced as engravings, and inspired various followers of greater and lesser talent - two of the better ones were Walter Dendy Sadler and G. G. Kilburne.

Stone's important and typical picture In Love (1888) is at the Nottingham Museum and Art Gallery. His diploma picture Good Friends is of course in the Royal Academy. Silent Pleading (1859) is at the Smith Art Gallery, Brighouse, Calderdale. Waiting and a small version of My Lady is a Widow and Childless are at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, and the larger version of the latter picture is, or was, in the Forbes Magazine Collection in America.

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