Description: signed and dated l.r.: FRANK DICKSEE / - 1911 – oil on canvas
Dimensions: measurements note 127 by 102 cm.; 50 by 40 in.;
Royal Academy, 1911, no. 15
Notes: PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
Request more information
Dicksee was one of the best-known painters of sophisticated portraiture in the later nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. His first portrait entitled The House Builders was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1879. It depicted Sir William Welby-Gregory and his wife Victoria at a table upon which is a model of their new home, Denton Manor. The portrait was Dicksee's third exhibit at the Academy and followed in the wake of fame created by his medieval romance Harmony of 1877. It was a great success and Dicksee was soon inundated with commissions for portraits. Wishing not to fall into the trap of becoming a society painter at the expense of his narrative work, he tactfully declined most of these requests and it would be almost two decades before he exhibited his second portrait exhibit, of Gladys Palmer the beautiful daughter of his great confidant Lady Jean Palmer (of Palmer's Biscuits), who became the Dayang Muda of the Indonesian Island of Sarawak.
In the twentieth century Dicksee concentrated increasingly upon commissions for portraits rather than his narrative pictures, although he continued to be selective of those sitters he painted. He gained a reputation for flattering his female sitters and for emphasising their beauty with accessories and glorious fabrics. Among his most successful female portraits were those of the Duchess of Westminster, Miss Elsa Hall, Lady Aird, Lady Hillingdon and Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos. Dicksee painted the wealthy wives and daughters of men of industry, politics and aristocracy with a technical panache which captured the lustre of high society, of polished mahogany and the sparkle of diamonds and shimmer of fine silk.
The sitter for this sumptuous portrait was the wife of Dr George Pinckard, the founder of the Clerical, Medical and General Life Assurance Society. The portrait of Mrs Pinckard is similar to that of Lady Inverclyde (FIG 1. Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery) also exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1911. It is accessorised so harmoniously, that the image is wholly successful. The art critic for the New York Times felt that, 'Among the half dozen exhibits by Frank Dicksee shows one of the prettiest women in London in his portrait of Mrs George Prickard [sic.]' (New York Times, 29 April 1911). All of the furniture that appears in the portrait suggests that the sitter had impeccable taste and a beautiful home. However the damask wall fabric, Chinese vase and golden stand and the rococo chair were all furnishings of the artist's studio at Greville House on Greville Place in St John's Wood. Mrs Pinckard could perhaps claim credit for the choice of costume, although certain elements such as the necklace and fan were almost certainly the preference of Dicksee who painted similar details in his comparative picture of Lady Inverclyde.