Dorothea Sharp

1874 – 1955

Dorothea Sharp was a landscape, figure and still life painter who worked in oils. She studied art at the Regent Street Polytechnic and continued her training in Paris several years later. Like Elizabeth Forbes and Christabel Cockerell, she was at the forefront of the British Impressionist School and is particularly well known for her informal subjects of children, often at play in the garden or on the beach.

Dorothea Sharp lived in London, Blewbury in Berkshire and St. Ives in Cornwall.

Born at Dartford in Kent, it was not until the age of twenty-one that Dorothea Sharp seriously took up painting. The death of an uncle, who left her one hundred pounds, enabled her to study at the art school run by C. E. Johnson, RI, in Richmond, Surrey. She then attended the Regent Street Polytechnic where she was greatly encouraged by Sir George Clausen and Sir David Murray, visiting critics to the Polytechnic Sketch Club.

It was in Paris that Sharp achieved her complete artistic development. There she studied under Castaluchio, ‘from whom she states she learnt all she knows’. It was the work of Claude Monet, however, that was to have a profound and lasting effect on her art, resulting in the highly impressionistic and spontaneous style that she was to adopt for the rest of her life.

Dorothea Sharp’s work was exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1901-4, in the provinces and also abroad. She was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists in 1907 and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1922 and the Society of Women Artists of which she acted as President for four years. She held her first one-woman show at the Connell Gallery in 1933, which proved a great success and was constantly attended by admiring visitors.

Although primarily a painter of pictures, Dorothea Sharp also designed posters and covers for magazines, and wrote a series of articles on Oil Painting, which first appeared in The Artist, and were later published by James Connell and Sons.

The Editor of The Artist praised Dorothea Sharp as ‘one of England’s greatest living women painters’, and commented upon the particular attraction of her art: ‘No other woman artist gives us such joyful paintings as she. Full of sunshine and luscious colour, her work is always lively harmonious and tremendously exhilarating … the chief attractions of Miss Sharp’s delightful pictures are her happy choice of subjects, and her beautiful colour schemes. Rollicking children bathed in strong sunlight, playing in delightful surroundings, her subjects appeal because they are based on the joy of life. And she presents them equally happily, with a powerful technique which enables her to make the most of her wonderful sense of colour’ (Harold Sawkins, Dorothea Sharp, ROI, RBA, The Artist, April 1935, pp. 55-8).

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