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FRANK DICKSEE was a member of a noted artistic family, his father, brother, and sister Margaret were all well-known painters, and the family lived in the Bloomsbury area of London. He was initially trained by his father, before entering the Royal Academy schools 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.

Frank Dicksee was elected ARA in 1881, and became a full RA ten years later. 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. Many of these portraits are so beautiful, it is really difficult to disapprove of them - happy was the fashionable lady whose portrait was painted by Dicksee! He also painted landscapes. Dicksee lived in St Johní»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. Dicksee was knighted in 1925 and died in 1928.


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