Helen Allingham

(26 September 1848 - 28 September 1926)


A popular British artist best-known for her watercolour depictions of rural life, cottage gardens and idealised scenes of domestic bliss. She often included children, cats or birds in her pictures. Her original works now fetch very high prices and many of her paintings have been reproduced on greeting cards.

She was born Helen Mary Elizabeth Paterson on 26 September 1848 in the South Derbyshire town of Swadlincote, where her father ran a small medical practice from his home in High Street. The property still stands today, on the corner where High Street meets Belmont Street.

Her mother Mary Chance Paterson (formerly Herford) did not care for her South Derbyshire surroundings. She became very depressed there and in letters to friends described Swadlincote as 'a dirty and miserable village' and its inhabitants as 'very changeable and uncivil.' It was therefore not surprising that the Allingham family left Swadlincote when Helen was only one year old.

For that reason her origins have been generally forgotten, but Helen Allingham is unquestionably of Derbyshire birth. Throughout her life she produced hundreds of paintings but is not thought to have even once depicted the county of her origin. Her two books - Happy England (1903) and The Cottage Homes of England (1909) are now highly collectable.

She died of a sudden illness on 28 September 1926, aged seventy-eight. Her Derbyshire origins have never been widely acknowledged, so perhaps a plaque should be erected at her birthplace to commemorate the remarkable life and work of 'HELEN ALLINGHAM OF SWADLINCOTE'.

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Mrs. Helen Allingham, eldest child of Alexander Henry Patterson, M.D., was born near Burton-on-Trent. After Dr. Patterson's son's death the family removed to Birmingham. At the beginning of 1867, Miss Patterson came to reside in London under the care of her aunt, Miss Laura Herford, who about five years previous had practically opened the schools of the Royal Academy to women. Miss Patterson herself entered the Royal Academy Schools in April, 1867. She afterwards drew on wood for several illustrated periodicals. She also furnished illustrations to novels running in the Cornhill Magazine; Far From the Madding Crowd and Miss Angel. In the intervals of drawing on wood she produced several water-colour drawings, some being exhibited at the Dudley Gallery; "The Milkmaid" and "Wait for Me" being hung in the Roya Academy, 1874. In 1875, she was elected Associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours, and in 1890, to the honour of full membership. Among her later works are several portraits of Thomas Carlyle. Miss Patterson was married in 1874 to the late Mr. Wm. Allingham, the poet. -- Strand Magazine

Helen Paterson Allingham, 1848-1926, Author: Huish, Marcus Bourne, 1845-1921;
Happy England as painted by Helen Allingham, R.W.S (1903)
Subject: Watercolor painting -- Great Britain; England -- Pictorial works - The artist's early work.--The artist's Surrey home.--The influence of Witley. --The woods, the lanes, and the fields. -- Cottages and homesteads. -- Gardens and orchards. -- Tennyson's homes. -- Mrs Allingham and her contemporaries

View painter's art: Helen Allingham (1848-1926)

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