birth place: London England
birth date: 27 November 1853
zodiac sign: Sagittarius
death place: London England
death date: 17 October 1928
Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee (or Frank Bernard Dicksee) was an English Victorian painter and illustrator, best known for his pictures of dramatic literary, historical, and legendary scenes. He also was a noted painter of portraits of fashionable women, which helped to bring him success in his own time.
Francis Bernard Dicksee was born at a time when the first wave of Pre-Raphaelitism was beginning to make its presence felt in Britain and he inherited the romantic spirit of the movement that had been founded only a stone's throw from his childhood home in the Bloomsbury area of London.. After early success with his painting of unrequited love, Harmony, he rose to be one of the most popular artists of the late 19th-century, painting in a sumptuous and dramatic style.
Dicksee's family was a veritable dynasty of artists, his father, brother, and sister Margaret were all well-known painters, but it is Francis who is best known and loved today for his Pre-Raphaelite inspired subjects.
Dicksee's father, Thomas Dicksee, was a painter who taught Frank as well as his sister Margaret from a young age. Dicksee enrolled in the Royal Academy in 1870. Amongst the visiting lecturers who trained him, were the famous senior academicians Leighton [1830-1896] and Millais [1829-1896]. Dicksee was a star student, earning many distinctions and medals.
Like many other artists of the day his early career was largely spent in book illustration, as well as some stained glass window design. He started exhibiting at the RA in the mid 1870s, and also exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, though his real base was always the Academy. Dicksee made his reputation with Harmony, exhibited at the Academy in 1877, and bought by the Chantry Bequest.
Many of his pictures were of dramatic historical and legendary scenes. He also was a noted painter of elegant, highly-finished portraits of fashionable women, which of course helped to bring him material success.
He also painted landscapes. Dicksee lived in St John's Wood, and remained a bachelor. He was, of course, one of the nineteenth century artists who outlived his time, and was, to his credit, very unhappy with developments in the early twentieth century. Rather surprisingly, Dicksee was elected President of the Royal Academy in 1924, fulfilling the role with panache and tact. Physically he was a tall, good-looking, patrician figure, with a charming easy-going manner. Like his predecessor but one Edward Poynter [1836-1919], the traditional orientation of his art gradually isolated him from the artistic mainstream of the day.
He was knighted in 1925, and named to the Royal Victorian Order by King George V in 1927.
In 1921 Dicksee exhibited at the first exhibition of the Society of Graphic Art in London.
Dicksee painted The Funeral of a Viking (1893; Manchester Art Gallery), which was donated in 1928 by Arthur Burton in memory of his mother to the Corporation of Manchester. Victorian critics gave it both positive and negative reviews, for its perfection as a showpiece and for its dramatic and somewhat staged setting, respectively. The painting was used by Swedish Viking/Black metal band Bathory for the cover of their 1990 album, Hammerheart.
A book on Frank Dicksee's life and work with a full catalogue of his known paintings and drawings by Simon Toll was published by Antique Collector's Club in 2016.
Articles and Websites
Title: Frank Dicksee:1853-1928: His art and life
Author: Simon Toll