12 Eleanor Fortesque-Brickdale (1872-1945)


Mary Eleanor Fortesque-Brickdale was a painter, illustrator, and stained-glass window designer. She regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Water-Colour Society. Her style has been labeled Neo-Pre-Raphaelite. She preferred watercolors, painting only one obligatory oil painting per year. She illustrated many poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning, she illustrated songbooks, and made her own book of illustrations, Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale's Golden Book of Famous Women. Eleanor was elected the first woman artist to the Institute of Painters in Oils and the first woman to the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolors, both in 1902.

'Mary for All Generations'

Eleanor was born in her parent's home, Birchamp Villa in Upper Norwood, Surrey. Her father was a barrister. At 17, she studied art under Herbert Bone at the Crystal Palace School of Art.in Sydenham (London). She entered the Royal Academy (RA) schools in 1896 (age 24) and exhibited there the same year. That year she designed and painted a prize-winning lunette for the RA dining hall. She moved to the Holland Park area of West London, where she lived the rest of her life. She had a solo show in 1901 under the title Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made Of! (from Shakespeare's The Tempest). In 1909 she was hired by the Leicester Galleries to paint 28 illustrations for the poet Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King.

'Catherine of Sienna'

While studying at the Royal Academy, Eleanor met the painter John Byam Shaw. In 1911 he founded his own school and made Eleanor a teacher there. Unfortunately, he died eight years later during the Spanish Flu. Eleanor joined the Society of Graphic Art following WWI, and showed in their first exhibition in 1921. She later worked in stained glass, despite her ill health and failing eye sight, and donated her works to churches, particularly Bristol Cathedral. Eleanor died in 1945. Most of her works on paper are preserved in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.


'The Deceitfulness of Riches', 


'Catherine Barlass'

'Vivian & Merlin'

'Bottom & Titania'

'Maud Is Only Seventeen'

'Love & His Counterfeit'

'Dante & Beatrice'

'Laura & Petrarch'

'Time & Immortality'

'The Lover's World'

'In Honor of C.S Rolls, Pioneer of Motor & Aerial Transport'

'The Pale Complexion of True Love' 1899, inspired by Shakespeare's As You Like It

'The Uninvited Guest'

'Portrait of the Artist Winifred Roberts'

'The Cunning Skill to Break a Heart'

'Queen Catherine of Aragon'

'The Ugly Princess'

'The Rusty Knight'

'Joan of Arc'

'Vivian Lord Tennyson'


'A Gift Better Than Rubies'

'Love Will Find the Way'

'The Physician'

'Gilded Apple'

'Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson'

'Tudor Girl'

'If One Could Have That Little Head of Hers'

NOTE: some information taken from the Grove Dictionary of Art and from Marie Gispert, writing for Awarewomenartists.com