Dorothea Sharp: Most Gifted English Modern Female Artist
Updated: Apr 17
Turning the pages of history towards the nineteenth century imparts knowledge of the rapid development and change, which occurred at a slower pace in previous centuries. For England, there was a fast drift towards converting the rural and agricultural country to an urban and industrialised one. However, with all the positive changes of the industrial revolution, and democratic developments, there was a massive societal dislocation through mass movements, which altered the nature of society. The specific period which exactly describes the period was the Victorian era, which began in 1837 and ended in 1901 however, the period can include the years before the outbreak of World War I in 1914. As you know, we are certainly not here for the lesson of history but to understand the humanities section through an artist's story. So let us take a turn, running through our track. Previously, I described to you in an article how Queen Victoria helped develop the artistic revolution. Additional to Queen's efforts, the international exhibitions further made a recognition of English artists they never had before. I have always forecasted you in my articles that it is always the situation and environment of society, which develops the art of any artist. Hence, as England changed with radicalisation, there was a change in the techniques and styles of art. During this intact period, we see modern art and artists like Van Gogh, Paul Cezzane and Pablo Picasso, which changed the concepts of extremely arduous principles of Renaissance art to the internal reflection of an artist's mind, personalising their journeys through artworks. Obviously, with these famous artists, we lost track of numerous artists who existed with their paintings. And surprisingly, some women artists took a lead and had their presence dominate the market. One of the female artists who drew with the impressionist style and had a very successful career was Dorothea Sharp.
1874, Dartford, Kent
A Morning Stroll, 1992
Dorothea Sharp was one of the Vice Presidents and Acting Presidents in Laura Knight's term of 35 years as President of the Society of Women Artists. She exhibited her artworks at the Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Glasgow Institute and the Royal Hibernian Academy. Throughout her career, she had many orders of paintings, and she successfully sold her works to the National Museum of Wales, the Laing Art Gallery and Newcastle.
Life of the Artist
Born in Dartford, Kent, Dorothea Sharp was the daughter of James Sharp, a timber merchant and Emily Jane. Now there is less information on her childhood, but we know she was already so sure to be a painter from a young age. However, her family's financial uncertainty let her not join any institute till Dorothea was 21. Dorothea attended the school of C. JOHNSON until her finances of 100 pounds didn't exhaust, whereupon she went to an evening class at the Regent Street Polytechnic. She benefited from the advice of Claudsen and David Murray, who were the critics of the polytechnic sketch club. In her earlier days, she wished to go to Paris, but due to her strict mother, who did not allow her to go unchaperoned, she postponed the trip, but after her mother began healing of sickness, Sharp went with her. She would spend every single morning studying in the church and noon painting at Castaluchio's atelier. Dorothea also encountered the works of Monet, which changed her paintings through the use of light. After she returned to England, Dorothea declined a marriage offer to concentrate fully on her career, and it was from her tiny bedroom that she started to paint. After a few times, she submitted paintings to the Society of British Artists, which got her its membership at the age of twenty-six.
Dorothea Sharp sent her first work to the RA in 1901 and continued till 1948. Till 1924, she made fewer paintings as she had to take care of her mother, but after her demise, she had an excellent output and reputation. In 1933, she exhibited her first solo show at the James Connell & Sons Ltd Galleries. Dorothea's works used to get sold in the market immediately. She has a close friend, Marcella Smith. In the exhibition, Women Artists in Cornwall 1880-1940, held at Falmouth and Plymouth Art Galleries in 1996-9797 and Creative Tension, a public display of British art at the Harris Art Gallery, Preston, in 2005, there were artworks of the artist displayed. And in 1937, Dorothea completed a manual for the Pitman series aimed at the students.
If you look at her genres of artworks, they are more probably about children, outdoor plays, suffused with light and sunshine. If you look closely at her works, they have a rich texture and broader brushstrokes, which resembles Monet's style. Among all of the paintings, she created, the genre for which she is known for her command of excellency is the children's theme.
In her lifetime, she had a great demand for her work. Now that you know a brief about her life, let us move on to learning about her paintings.
Briefly Looking at Dorothea Sharp Art.
The first painting exhibited in Royal Academy in 1901 by Dorothea Sharp was Playmates, which showcases a little girl feeding the swarm on the shores of a lake. She used varied brushstrokes with a great colour combination of greens, blues and yellow as a contrast. The artist not only gave us a visual of the best colour but also filled with the innocence of a child and a harmonious connection between humans and animals.
One of the other Dorothea Sharp paintings, Over the Hills and Far Away, showcases an impressionist-style landscape on the hills with children. If you look closer, the children's poses seem realistic, forming an immense connection with our real lives. The choice of colours usually takes us to a beguiling place where there is only joy and love.
Again in the Children on the Rocks artwork, Dorothea didn't fail to impress us through her wise choice of colours, showing the gleeful landscape with the innocent faces of children. The seagulls, with the contrast of colour and rocks, are an exceptional choice of an artist in the artwork.
Other crucial artworks from the Gallery of Dorothea Sharp are Children Paddling, Paddlers and Walking with Big Sister.
The treasured colours of the artist are so relatable that on viewing them, we see what the experience of joy and happiness looks like. Dorothea Sharp was a leading artist from Britain who not only got recognition enough for her works but also was an inspiration among the entire society.
1. A biographical dictionary of women artists in Europe and America since 1850 by Dunford and Penny.
2. The Dictionary of British Women Artists by Gray, Sara.