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Heatherley's Art School, circa 1900

SKU: 4779
Oil on canvas

Size:
Height – 61cm
Width – 45.7cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Anissa Helou collection; Private collection
Presentation:
framed


Exhibitited: The Edwardian Era, Barbican Art Gallery, (November 87-February 88), no 56.

Literature: The Edwardian Era, Barbican Art Gallery, (November 87-February 88), p 40.

Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.12.

Heatherley’s, founded in 1845, is one of the oldest independent art schools in London and was the first to admit women to the life room on equal terms with men. In Joshua’s highly observed work she depicts the school’s large collection of historical dress, ceramics and armour which formed a costume studio for the use of students. One of the two students depicted ‚- both wearing matching painting smocks in hues of blue ‚- is likely to be a self-portrait.

Heatherley’s, as it is affectionately known, is one of the oldest independent art schools in London and the first to admit women to the life room on equal terms with men. Women artists who attended the school include Emily Mary Osborn, Kate Greenway and Laura Herford‚ the first woman to be admitted to the Royal Academy Schools in 1860. In Nellie Joshua’s highly observed work she depicts the school’s large collection of historical dress, ceramics and armour which formed a costume studio for the use of students. The painting seems to relate to a contemporary photograph in Heatherley’s archive which shows the same view of the costume studio and two seated women students (see biographical entry for Joshua). The students who are wearing matching painting smocks in hues of blue ‚Äì perhaps one is the artist herself‚ appear to be looking at a sketchbook.

Samuel Butler’s work Mr Heatherley’s Holiday: An Incident in Studio Life (1874, Tate) depicts another view of the school’s costume studio.

In a letter to OTJ Alpers (17 February 1902), Butler wrote: ‚”When I was studying painting in my kind old friend Mr. Heatherley’s studio, I remember hearing a student ask how long a man might hope to go on improving”. Mr Heatherley said: “As long as he is not satisfied with his own work!”.

Commentary by Alice Strickland, curator for the National Trust in London and the South East. Her research interests include British women artists, with a particular focus on their education and exhibiting opportunities. She is an active member of the Tate’s British Women Artists 1750‚ – 1950 Network.

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THE ARTIST

Nellie
Joshua
1877 - 1960

Nellie Joshua was a genre painter who made works that primarily centered around figures and interiors. Her sister Joan Joshua (1884 – 1965) was also an artist. Nellie attended the Heatherley School of Fine Art in the 1890s and lived in London throughout her career, exhibiting at the RA, the ROI and the SWA between 1902 and 1911.

As well as her intricate, realistic depictions of everyday scenes, she also produced paintings that explore folklore, such as Dragonfly (Fairy Boy) (c.1905), which had some success as popular prints.

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