Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (1872-1945)
The last Pre-Raphaelite: ‘One of the most popular artists of the Edwardian era’.
Eleanor was a successful artist, illustrator and designer who worked in the Pre-Raphaelite style. She painted in oils, illustrated books of poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning, designed First World War government posters, and created commemorative stained glass windows for over 20 churches.
She studied at London’s Crystal Palace School of Art and at the Royal Academy Schools, exhibiting her first oil painting at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1899. Three years later she became the first woman member of the Institute of Painters in Oils.
Alongside her prolific output of paintings, drawings and illustrations, Eleanor also taught at the art school in Kensington. She lived in Shepherd’s Bush with her sister Kate, and often travelled to Europe, taking inspiration from the artworks she saw there.
Eleanor had a studio in Holland Park for some years, opposite Leighton House. She exhibited work at Leighton House in 1902, and some of her work – including her war posters – are in the collection there.
Tragically for such a talented artist, her eyesight failed in later years and she was dogged by ill health. After her death in 1945, Eleanor’s distinctive style began to fall out of fashion. She became known as the ‘last Pre-Raphaelite’.