Sir Frank Dicksee
British, 1853 - 1928
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English painter and illustrator. He studied in the studio of his father, Thomas Francis Dicksee (1819-95), who painted portraits and historical genre scenes; he then entered the Royal Academy Schools, London, where he was granted a studentship in 1871. He won a silver medal for drawing from the Antique in 1872 and a gold medal in 1875 for his painting Elijah confronting Ahab and Jezebel in Naboth's Vineyard (untraced), with which he made his début at the Royal Academy in 1876. He also began to work as an illustrator during the 1870s, contributing to Cassell's Magazine, Cornhill Magazine, The Graphic and other periodicals. During the 1880s he was commissioned by Cassell & Co. to illustrate their editions of Longfellow's Evangeline (1882), Shakespeare's Othello (1890) and Romeo and Juliet (1884).
Dicksee's paintings are executed with textural fluidity and rich orchestrations of colour. They reveal a curious blend of influences, in particular the classicism of Frederic Leighton and the abstracted idealism of G. F. Watts. His predilection for the decorative aspects of painting grew out of his studies with Henry Holiday, a designer of stained glass. He passionately championed the Victorian ideals of High Art and publicly condemned the artistic trends that emerged towards the end of his life. His work covers a wide range of subject-matter and genres, including biblical and allegorical paintings; among those derived from literary sources are Chivalry (1885; priv. col., see The Royal Academy Revisited, exh. cat. by C. Forbes, New York, Met., 1975, p. 38). He also painted society portraits and social dramas, such as The Confession (1896; priv. col., see Great Victorian Pictures, exh. cat. by R. Treble, ACGB, 1978, p. 30).
Dicksee was elected ARA in 1881, RA in 1891 and PRA in 1924. He was knighted in 1925 and made KCVO in 1927. His sister Margaret Isabel (1858-1903) and brother Herbert Thomas (1862-1942) were also painters, as was his uncle John Robert Dicksee (1817-1905).
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