Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee, (Frank Dicksee)
(27 November 1853 - 17 October 1928)
He won a silver medal for drawing from the Antique in 1872 and a gold medal in 1875 for his painting 'Elijah confronting Ahab and Jezebel in Naboth's Vineyard' (untraced), with which he made his debut at the Royal Academy in 1876. He also began to work as an illustrator during the 1870s, contributing to Cassell's Magazine, Cornhill Magazine, The Graphic and other periodicals. During the 1880's he was commissioned by Cassell & Co. to illustrate their editions of Longfellow's 'Evangeline' (1882), Shakespeare's 'Othello' (1890) and 'Romeo and Juliet' (1884).
Dicksee's paintings are executed with textural fluidity and rich orchestrations of colour. They reveal a curious blend of influences, in particular the classicism of Frederic Leighton and the abstracted idealism of G. F. Watts. His predilection for the decorative aspects of painting grew out of his studies with Henry Holiday, a designer of stained glass. He passionately championed the Victorian ideals of High Art and publicly condemned the artistic trends that emerged towards the end of his life. His work covers a wide range of subject-matter and genres, including biblical and allegorical paintings; among those derived from literary sources are 'Chivalry' (1885; priv. col., see The Royal Academy Revisited, exh. cat. by C. Forbes, New York, Met., 1975, p. 38). He also painted society portraits and social dramas, such as 'The Confession' (1896; priv. col.).
Looking back upon his student days, Mr. Dicksee acknowledges first of all the splendid training he received from his father, who though a self-trained artist, prepared him thoroughly for the academical course. The drawings which secured his admission to Burlington House were made in his father's studio.
No one was much surprised when, in 1881, Mr. Dicksee was elected as Associate of the Royal Academy, for though he was only twenty-seven years of age, he had well earned the honour, alike by his academic career and the distinction of his exhibited pictures. 1891 was a very notable year in Mr. Dicksee's career; before the exhibition had run its course he was elected a Royal Academician -- an honour well deserved by his brilliant achievement, and PRA in 1924. He was knighted in 1925 and made KCVO in 1927. His sister Margaret Isabel (1858-1903) and brother Herbert Thomas (1862-1942) were also painters, as was his uncle John Robert Dicksee (1817-1905).
Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee
[(Excerpts from: Frank Dicksee (Royal Academician): His Life and Work, By Edward Rembrault Dibdin, 1905.]