The Presentation, Sir Lancelot and the Wise Virgins

English artist and illustrator Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (1872 – 1945) was born in Upper Norwood, Surrey. The late Victorian period produced a fine school of artist-illustrators of whom Fortescue-Brickdale was one of the best. She illustrated many books and also painted in oil and watercolour in a romantic and poetic style derived mainly from the style of Burne-Jones. Her pictures are often in sets of two or three panels usually in frames designed by herself. She was trained first at the Crystal Palace School of Art, under Herbert Bone and entered the Royal Academy in 1896. Fortescue-Brickdale soon began exhibiting her oil paintings at the Royal Academy and her watercolours at the Dowdeswell Gallery, where she had several solo exhibitions.

While at the Academy, Fortescue-Brickdale came under the influence of John Liston Byam Shaw, a protégé of John Everett Millais and much influenced by John William Waterhouse. When Byam Shaw founded an art school in 1911, Fortescue-Brickdale became one of the teachers.

  • In 1909, Ernest Brown, of the Leicester Galleries, commissioned a series of 28 watercolour illustrations to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, which Fortescue-Brickdale painted over two years. They were exhibited in the gallery in 1911, and 24 of them were published the following year in a deluxe edition of the first four Idylls.

Fortescue-Brickdale lived during much of her career in Holland Park Road, opposite Leighton House, where she held an exhibition in 1904. Later, Fortescue-Brickdale also worked with stained glass.

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