This watercolour painting titled ‘Old Cottages, Horsham’ is signed by the artist, Helen Allingham. The painting is finished with a high-quality water gilded frame and Tru Vue Museum Glass® which eliminates reflection, blocks up to 99% of harmful UV rays and maintains the colour and quality of the artwork.
About Helen Allingham
Helen Allingham RWS (née Paterson) was born in 1848 in Derbyshire, and died in 1926. She was a well-known watercolourist and illustrator.
Helen was the eldest of seven children. A year after she was born, her family moved to Altrincham in Cheshire. In 1862 her father and her three-year-old sister Isabel died of diphtheria during an epidemic. The remaining family then moved to Birmingham, where some of Alexander Paterson’s family lived.
Allingham showed a talent for art from an early age, inspired by her grandmother Sarah Smith Herford and aunt Laura Herford, who were both accomplished artists of their day. Her younger sister, Caroline Paterson, also became a noted artist.
Helen initially studied art for three years at the Birmingham School of Design. She spent a year at the Royal Female School of Art in London, before following her aunt Laura Herford to the National Art Training School. In 1867 she enrolled in the Royal Academy School, which would later become the Royal College of Art.
While studying at the National Art Training School, Helen worked as an illustrator, eventually deciding to give up her studies in favour of a full-time career in art. She painted for children’s and adult books, as well as for periodicals, including The Graphic newspaper. One highlight was her commission to provide twelve illustrations for the 1874 serialisation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd in Cornhill Magazine. Her illustrations from this era were signed either “H. Paterson” or “H. Allingham”. She became a lifelong friend of Kate Greenaway whom she met at evening art classes at the Slade School of Fine Art.
While Vincent van Gogh was developing as an artist by studying English illustrated journals, he was struck by Helen Allingham’s work in The Graphic. Although females did not gain the same recognition as men at the time, Helen was one of the women artists who made a considerable impact, as artists like Van Gogh were influenced by her.
In 1874, Helen married William Allingham, Irish poet and editor of Fraser’s Magazine. She then gave up her career as an illustrator and moved on to watercolour painting. In 1881, the family moved from Chelsea to Witley in Surrey. Helen started to paint the countryside around her and particularly the picturesque farmhouses, cottages and gardens of Surrey and Sussex, for which she became famous.
In 1889, William Allingham died. Helen then felt the pressure to support her 3 young children and stepped up the production of her watercolour paintings. These were done with great attention to detail and avoiding any sense of squalor or hardship. Her work then became very popular. She went on to paint rural scenes in other parts of the country – Middlesex, Kent, the Isle of Wight and the West Country – and abroad in Venice, Italy. As well as landscapes, she completed several portraits, including one of Thomas Carlyle.
In 1890, Allingham became the first woman to be admitted as a full member of the Royal Watercolour Society. At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois she exhibited her work at the Palace of Fine Arts.