better late than never ... an exhibition of works by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale at the Lady Lever Art Gallery on the Wirral. Curated by Pamela Gerrish Nunn, my old friend and Pre-Raphaelite colleague, this is the first real showcasing of EFB's work for several decades, and comes neatly in advance of Tate's autumn show to demonstrate the long-running influence of the movement. Brickdale's subjects were striking and diverse, and where the subjects were provided, as in her many illustrated books, the compositions are frequently unexpected, so there is seldom any sense of sugary romanticism [ sorry, for those who like Pre-Raphaelite sugar ] but a direct apprehension of the mise-en-scene and many lovely effects of colour.
As Brickdale's work is little known, and many works remain virtually undiscovered, this is a great opportunity to assess her output and decide to what extent, if at all, it suffered from being associated with such an outdated art movement as Pre-Raphaelitism, rather than responding to any subsequent influence - Impressonist, Symboliste, Post-Impressionist etc. Hopefully too it will focus attention on some of EFB's other neglected works, including the LadyChapel triptych in Newland church, Forest of Dean, sadly in need of conservation.
On the right a suavely flattering portrait in the exhibition of Winifred Roberts, granddaughter of George and Rosalind Howard. She was EFB's student and went on, as Winifred Nicholson, to be a painter in a quite different mode. But a nice example of the female baton being passed on.