Sir Francis Bernard `Frank` Dicksee (British 1853-1928); Portrait of Lady Wood; oil on canvas; mounted in an ornately carved gilt wood frame; Signed and dated 1916 lower right, 100cm x 84cm (39.5 x 33ins) sight (visible canvas) size, 126 x 109cm (49.5 x 43ins) overall size including frame.
EXHIBITED at the Royal Academy in 1916. Exhibit No.428. Illustrated in "The Royal Academy Illustrated" for 1916 (see image).
PROVENANCE: By descent from the sitter (see below) to Sir Anthony Page Wood (8th Bart). Presently the property of a private collector, who has appointed us to offer it for sale on his behalf.
LITERATURE: Illustrated in "The Royal Academy Illustrated" for 1916 (see image).
CONDITION: In fine condition. Ready to hang. The canvas has not been lined and there are no damages to it. The reverse of the canvas has been treated, through which can be seen the faint printed marks of the canvas supplier: "Prepared by / C Roberson & Co Ltd / 99 Long Acre, London" (This firm is recorded as having traded at this address from 1853 to 1937). The painting is in clean condition, with good impasto. Viewed under ultraviolet light, one small (approximately 2in x 1/2in) patch of retouching can be seen in the background just to the left of her right upper arm. This is not visible to the naked eye.
The finely carved gilt wood frame is very likely the original frame of this painting, which it fits perfectly. Nonetheless, we believe that the frame probably pre-dates the painting, the size of which may have been specified to fit it. There are a few minor restorations to some of the extremities, but nothing significant, and the appearance and general wear of the gilding is entirely appropriate and sympathetic to the age of the painting.
VIEWING: This painting is available for viewing by appointment in Wiltshire, England.
SUBJECT BIOGRAPHY: Violet Mary Frances Stuart, Lady Page Wood was the daughter of Henry Stuart Johnson and Mary Bernard Johnson, née Chilcott. Her father adopted the name and arms of Brook and was ADC to his uncle Sir James Brook the Rajah of Sarawak. She married Colonel Sir John Page Wood, 5th Bart, (1860-1912) on 22nd September 1896. (Any additional information would be gratefully received).
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: Dicksee, Sir Francis Bernard (1853–1928), historical genre and portrait painter, was born in London on 27 November 1853. He was the elder son of the painter and illustrator Thomas Francis Dicksee (1819–1895) and his wife, Eliza. Dicksee studied art with his father and from 1870 to 1875, at the Royal Academy Schools where he showed early promise, winning gold and silver medals. While still a student, Dicksee exhibited at the Society (later Royal Society) of British Artists in Suffolk Street in 1872; he began to exhibit regularly at the Royal Academy from 1876, when he showed Elijah confronting Ahab and Jezebel in Naboth's Vineyard, for which he had been awarded the Royal Academy's gold medal the previous year. In 1881 Dicksee was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, and in 1891 he became a full academician.
Dicksee's art was firmly rooted in Pre-Raphaelite concepts. Along with the illustrator and designer Walter Crane, the painter and designer Henry Holiday, and the painter J. W. Waterhouse, he was influenced by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. The romantic, dreamlike visions that they espoused are epitomized by Dicksee's best-known work, La Belle Dame sans Merci (Bristol Art Gallery). Dicksee worked for some time under Holiday, who is perhaps best-known for his stained glass designs.
Early in his career Dicksee also illustrated books and magazines. The best-known of these are probably those for Longfellow's Evangeline (1882) and for Cassell's `royal' editions of Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet (1884) and Othello (1889). Several of his woodcut illustrations for the Cornhill Magazine are in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
He was a strident opponent of modern art. His retrogressive stance, however, did not adversely affect his popularity. In his own lifetime his paintings achieved high prices at auction—the record for his work being set by Too Late (1883), bought for £997 10s. at the A. Shuttleworth sale at Christies on 3 May 1890. In 1900 he won a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition, and the same year his painting entitled The Two Crowns (Tate collection) was purchased by the Chantrey trustees for £2000. Even into the 1920s he continued to exhibit and sell sentimental, melodramatic paintings that had not changed significantly from his much earlier work, such as The End of the Quest (1921; Leighton House, London) and This for Remembrance (1924; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool). Dicksee's romantic scenes found favour with his female audience and for a time he was also a fashionable portrait painter, especially for women, though towards the end of the century his melancholy style was eclipsed by John Singer Sargent's `swagger' school of portrait painting.
In 1924 Dicksee was elected president of the Royal Academy. He was knighted in 1925 and in the following year was nominated by the newly elected chancellor of Oxford University, Viscount Cave, for the honorary degree of DCL. He was created KCVO in 1927. He was a trustee of the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery and president of the Artists' General Benevolent Association. He died, unmarried, on 17 October 1928, at the Cambridge Nursing Home, 4 Dorset Square, London. A retrospective selection of his works was included in the Royal Academy winter exhibition of 1933.
(Extract from Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry by Jennifer Melville)