top of page
  • Writer's pictureLilium

Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale - Gifted Gallery

Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, born 25 January 1872, was an English artist known for her paintings, book illustrations and for a number of works in stained glass.

Fortescue-Brickdale was born at her parents' house, Birchamp Villa in Upper Norwood, Surrey as Mary Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale the daughter of Matthew and Sarah Fortescue Brickdale. Her father was a barrister.

She was trained first at the Crystal Palace School of Art at the age of 17, under Herbert Bone and entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1896. In that year she also exhibited a work at the Royal Academy, RA, and won a prize for designing a lunette, Spring for the RA Dining Room.

Her first major painting was The Pale Complexion of True Love (1899). She soon began exhibiting her oil paintings at the Royal Academy, and her watercolours at the Dowdeswell Gallery, where she had multiple solo exhibitions.

In 1899 a London gallery commissioned a personal exhibition of her watercolours, which was inaugurated in 1901 under the title Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made of! (from Shakespeare’sThe Tempest). The exhibited works were also reproduced in an illustrated book. After the exhibition’s critical and commercial success, the painter received several other similar commissions.

From then on, the artist would favour watercolours, although she did produce at least one oil painting a year, as the Royal Academy’s regulations obliged her to. She lived during much of her career in Holland Park Road, opposite Leighton House, where she held an exhibition in 1904.

While at the academy, Fortescue-Brickdale came under the influence of John Byam Liston Shaw, a protégé of John Everett Millais much influenced by John William Waterhouse. When Byam Shaw founded his art school in 1911, Fortescue-Brickdale became a teacher there.

Photograph of Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale and Byam Shaw, 1911-12

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 at the gallery in 1911, and 24 of them were published the following year in a deluxe edition of the first four Idylls.

Fortescue-Brickdale exhibited at the first exhibition of the Society of Graphic Art in 1921. Later, she also worked with stained glass. She was a staunch Christian, and donated works to churches.

She died on 10 March 1945, and is buried at Brompton Cemetery, London. Amongst her best known works are The Uninvited Guest and Guinevere. Her work was highly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite artists whose love of detail, colour, symbolism, storytelling and nature was so hugely influential on mid Victorian Britain. Eleanor's own work carried the Pre-Raphaelite style forward into the 20th century. Indeed she became known as 'the last Pre-Raphaelite'.



Reading Recommendations & Content Considerations

Alfred Tennyson Illustrated in full colour by

Illustrations by Eleanor F. Brickdale Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale


bottom of page