Whenever I articulate my thoughts about previous centuries, based on my learning, I often get stuck in the eighteenth century especially. It is because of the reason that Europe’s history turned entirely due to its intellectual, social and political ferment. Often this period is referred to as the Age of Enlightenment, as it faced all the previous ideologies of spirituality and artistry implemented on a broader scale. And we saw a drastic increase in the number of artists, especially women. As it held the foundations of change in the 1800s, when we focus on knowing about women artists, England faced tremendous artistic activity during the reign of Victoria. You must realize that the queen highly promoted the artisans, further elevated by the substantial International exhibitions. However, despite the persistent practices, women somehow worked extra for making their own place in craftsmanship. As I talked about earlier in my articles that one thing which I often feel about the feminist side is the disabled entries of women artists in academies. However, despite these challenges, the earnest efforts of the women artists made their art sell more. The usual theme on their canvases were sentimental genres, domestic scenes and still lifes. One woman artist who excelled in her artworks through these scenes was Rolinda Sharples, whom we are discussing today. So let us learn about her and her exquisite gallery of paintings.
Artist Abstract: Who Was Rolinda Sharples?
Rolinda was a British artist who produced various subjects on canvases in watercolours, oils and pastels. One of the Honorary members of the Royal Society of British Artists, she worked in the Bristol Art Gallery, exhibiting extensively in the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists and the Royal Hibernian Academy.
|Birth||1793, probably in Bath|
|Death and Cause||1838, Bristol, Breast Cancer|
|Famous Painting||The Trial of Colonel Brereton after the Bristol Riots|
|Masters||James Sharples, Ellen Sharples and then briefly under Philip Reinagle.|
Early Life of the Artist.
Born in 1793, probably in Bath, Rolinda was the daughter of Ellen Wallace Sharples and James Sharples. Her mother, Ellen, was a superior portraitist of Britain who exhibited in the Royal Academy. Rolinda probably studied art under her father James Sharples, then briefly under Philip Reinagle in London, known for his portraits, animal paintings and landscapes. There isn’t much known about her childhood, but through her mother’s life, we can trace her movements and art. During the timespan of 1794-1801 and 1809-11, she lived in the USA, but after her father died in 1811, she moved to Clifton, Bristol, with her mother. Unlike her mother, she painted on a large scale and employed a fuller palette in oil on canvas and panel, progressing to more natural and varied poses. From individual portraits to figure groups, genre and narrative artworks; she became the first British woman artist to depict contemporary events. She painted flowers and shells in oil, pastel or miniature.
There is a diary entry from Ellen describing Rolinda and her art. Let me tell you what it reads,
“independent of the smiles or frowns of fortune.”
“Rolindra drew the portrait of a young lady of her acquaintance in crayons, which was greatly admired for the correctness of the likeness, and which decided her becoming a professional artist. The praises bestowed on her performances, with small gold pieces in exchange, were very exhilarating and made her apply with delighted interest, improving rapidly.”
Though we know she painted around 70 portraits from her diary, only 15 have been located to date. Which were the most famous paintings from her gallery? We shall read them in a later section.
Looking at the Rolinda Sharples’ Paintings.
The first group painting from Rolinda was Cloakroom, the Clifton Assembly Rooms, which holds its place in the Bristol Museum. Rolinda Sharples painted this oil painting showing a group of ball-goers approaching the Clifton Assembly Rooms in Bristol. She showcased a flurry of gossip among people of all ages as they prepare to enter the ballroom. Behind them, a young man wraps a wrap around the shoulders of a young woman. A maid is helping the woman put on her shoes in the foreground. In accordance with the fashion at the time, most young women wear white, while older women wear darker colours. The warm colours and amazing catastrophic light contrasts fill the painting with beauty.
Her first exterior scene painting was A Market, which showcased animated figures in the painting and was exhibited in her first Royal Academy exhibition in 1820.
The next painting, which brought introduction and development in a more complex composition with deeper space, a background of buildings, hills and cliffs with a group of figures in contrasting lights and darks, was Rownham Ferry. If you look closely, each figure is engaged in merry activity as the ferry exactly looks, and more concisely, they shape up like a fairy place.
Rolinda attained her mature style in the Artwork, Stoppage of the Bank and Money from Cowrie Shells to Credit Cards. In the painting, Stoppage of the Bank, the artist presented a stock market crash in 1825 that led to the failure of many banks. Rolinda Sharples presents her narrative on Guinea Street, a fictional street, although several buildings are modelled after those in Bristol, especially on Corn Street. According to Sharples, the subject matter suited a variety of expressions since so many people had rushed to the bank for their capital, only to become financially ruinous as a result. After showing the painting in London in 1827, she worked on it again later.
In the artwork Money from Cowrie Shells to Credit Cards, Rolinda displayed a group of figures with various states of alarm in a stage-like space that extends into a receding city street and landscapes with warmer earth tones and colour accents.
In her other painting, St Names Fair and Village Gossips, Rolinda showcased facial expressions and interaction among the figures and surrounding elements, reflecting genre paintings.
One of her crucial paintings of the time was The Trial of Colonel Brereton after the Bristol riots, which involved hours of sketching during the trial, portraying the 1831 riots of Bristol as a reaction to inefficient local government and demand for parliamentary reform. It lengthens around 1.8 metres long, consisting of more than 100 portraits, and shows evident sympathy towards Coloned, who committed suicide just two days after the trial.
Other paintings from the artist’s gallery include- Self Portrait, Artist and her Mother, Madame Catalini.
Rolinda was one of the terrific painters from Britain that the state never got after her. There is a proud moment among all the art nerds like me to see such a painter who received every honour due to her art and is still in our hearts through her incontestably finest art.
1. Women Artists: Recognition and Reappraisal from the Early Middle Ages to the twentieth century By Petersen, Karen.
2. Dictionary of Women Artists, 1997.
Frequently Asked Questions.
Rolinda Sharples was an English painter of the Victorian era who became immensely popular for her portraiture and domestic scenes. Further, she exhibited her art at the Royal Academy making her one of the few female artists to do that and make themselves crucial in history.
Rolinda Sharples was a Neoclassicist who used watercolours, oils and pastels and depicted sentimental genre art through domestic scenes and portraitures.
Rolinda Sharples died of Breast Cancer in 1838, aged 45 years.