Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Emma Sandys

Emma Sandys (1843–1877) was born in Norwich, the daughter of Anthony Sands (bap. 1804, d. 1883), a local artist who was formerly a dyer, and his wife, Mary Ann Brown (d. 1883), and the younger sister of (Anthony) Frederick Sandys. In 1853 the family added a ‘y’ to their surname, implying (wrongly) a connection to an ancient Cumbrian family. Taught by her father, Emma was advised by Frederick, an associate of Pre-Raphaelite circles from 1857. She specialized in portraits and female heads in oil, often in medieval or period costume against decorative backgrounds; examples are Elaine (c.1862–5; Lanhydrock, Cornwall, National Trust collection), Lady in Yellow Dress (c.1870; Norwich Castle Museum), and Viola (c.1870; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool). Sandys worked from about 1862 and exhibited in London and Norwich between 1867 and 1874. She died in Norwich, where she had continued to live throughout her career, in November 1877.

Lucy Madox Brown [see Rossetti, (Emma) Lucy Madox Brown] (1843–1894), who married W. M. Rossetti in 1874, her half-sister Catherine, and Marie Spartali [see Stillman, Marie], were all trained in art by Ford Madox Brown in the 1860s and thus came into contact with D. G. Rossetti and his associates. Shakespearian subjects, aesthetic themes, richness of colouring, and decorative treatment of background connect Lucy Madox Brown's work with Pre-Raphaelitism. The most prolific of the three, Spartali depicted single female figures from literature and history, and as symbols (often with symbolic attributes) against rich decorative backgrounds. Her most ambitious and highly acclaimed paintings were multi-figure compositions with themes drawn from the Morte d'Arthur and Italian literature, often in D. G. Rossetti's translations. Her two Arthurian themes exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1873 led Henry James to describe her as ‘a spontaneous, sincere, naïve Pre-Raphaelite’ (James, 93). Catherine Emily Madox Brown [married name Hueffer] (1850–1927) was born on 11 November 1850 and baptized on 18 April 1852, the first child of Ford Madox Brown (1821–1893) and Emma Matilda Hill (b. 1829) (later his second wife), and the second of Brown's three surviving children. As an infant and during her girlhood she modelled for her father, and after leaving Queen's College, a girls' school in Harley Street, she trained under her father, for whom she continued to work as a model and studio assistant. Between 1869 and the mid-1870s she exhibited portraits and subject pictures, chiefly in watercolour, at the Royal Academy and the Dudley Gallery, and also in Manchester and Liverpool. After her marriage in 1872 to the musicologist Francis (Franz) Hueffer (1845–1889), and the birth of their three children, her exhibition appearances became rare. Her best-known work, an outdoor portrait, Ford Madox Brown at the Easel (1872; priv. coll.), strongly recalls her father's own work. After resuming her career in the 1890s she exhibited for the last time in 1901. She died in 1927.

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