Promenade through the Honeysuckle
Signed bas droite
Oil on Canvas
95cm x 197cm
Valentine Cameron Prinsep, often known as Val Princep, was an artist and writer of the late nineteenth century. He was highly acclaimed as an artist, socially gifted and remarkably well connected.
He was born in Calcutta on 14.2.1838. His father was Henry Thoby Prinsep, who for many years was a member of the Council of India, and his mother was Sarah Monckton Pattle. One of his mother’s sisters was the pioneering photographer Julia Cameron, and another became grandmother to Virginia Woolf. He was educated at home
in England, then attended Haileybury School in Hertfordshire. His parents were at the centre of artistic society and close family acquaintances included Rossetti, Caryle, Gladstone, Disraeli, Halle and Darwin.
Val Prinsep trained to become an Indian Merchant, but was also a talented artist and was persuaded by his good friend and mentor G.F. Watts to take up painting as an occupation. Watts, the outstanding artist of his generation, was married to the actress Ellen Terry.
Prinsep studied under Watts, and then in Paris, in the studio of Gleyne, where he became friends with fellow students E.J. Poynter, Du Maurier and Whistler. He was the model for Taffy in Trilby.
In 1859 -60 he travelled to Italy went to Italy with Burne-Jones and John Everett Millais and they met Browning in Rome.
W hen he came home he achieved rapid success as an artist and was an active member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of artists.
He played a part with Rossetti in the decoration of the hall of Oxford Union.
Prinsep first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1862 and thereafter annually until 1904. He also exhibited regularly at Suffolk Street, the Grosvenor Gallery, New Gallery, Paris and elsewhere. He was elected Associate of the Royal Academy in 1879 and Member in 1899. He became Professor of Painting to the Royal Academy from 1900 to 1903.
In 1876 Prinsep was commissioned by the Indian Government to paint a picture, to commemorate the Declaration of Queen Victoria as Empress. He travelled to India accordingly in 1877 and painted the Delhi Durbar, the mass assembly in Coronation Park, Delhi, held by the Earl of Lytton as Viceroy of India, and produced the painting entitled “The Golden Gate”. This was exhibited to great acclaim, and afterwards hung at Buckingham Palace. Prinsep also later published a book recording his travels to India in “India; an Artist’s Journal” in 1879.
In 1884 Prinsep married Florence Leyland; she was the daughter of a well-known industrialist and art collector, Frederick Richards Leyland. Leyland was also the patron of Whistler and Rossetti. Prinsep, already very successful became, after his marriage, very rich too.
As an artist Prinsep excelled in portraits, genre and classical subjects.
Works based on a single girl were a favourite theme. He was however also a writer and wrote two plays, “Cousin Dick” and “Monsieur Le Duc”, which were produced at the Court and the St. James Theatres respectively. He also wrote two novels. He was an enthusiastic volunteer, and one of the founder members of the Artists Corps.
Prinsep lived in Holland Park Road, Kensington. He died from the effects of an operation on 11.11.1904 and is buried in Brompston Cemetery, London.
There is a photogravure of Prinsep by Frank Dudman in the National Portrait Gallery.
Works by Prinsep are currently held in many notable collections, including “Leonara di Manua “ held by the Walker Art Gallery, and “Ayesha”, held by the Tate.
The identity of the girl or model in this painting is not known for sure, but it is likely that she is one of the Pettigrew sisters, Rose, Hetty and Lilian, who acted as models for several of the Pre-Raphaelite artists.
This painting is very large, with the girl appearing as life-size. The painting is best appreciated in surroundings of appropriate proportions, and was for many years displayed in a gentleman’s club in London.