Artist biography

English painter. The second son of Yorkshire landed gentry, he was educated at Rugby and Christ Church, Oxford. In 1850 he studied in London with G. F. Watts, through whom he entered the artistic circle at Little Holland House, where he met D. G. Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones.Stanhope's close friendship with Burne-Jones proved a more decisive influence on his work that, in the 1860s, consisted of dreamlike poetic and mythological subjects often set in quaint, enclosed spaces, as in I Have Trod the Winepress Alone (c. 1864; London, Tate).

Stanhope married in 1859 and moved to Sandroyd, a house near Cobham, Surrey, designed for him by Philip Webb in 1860, but because of severe asthma he wintered abroad from 1865 and in 1880 moved permanently to the Villa Nuti, Bellosguardo, near Florence. Deeply influenced by Italian art, he had his frames made in gilt gesso by Florentine craftsmen and was one of the first British artists to revive tempera painting, adopting it at least as early as 1877 in Eve Tempted (exh. London, Grosvenor Gal. 1877; Manchester, C.A.G.). His later work, marked by strong, frieze-like compositions of Quattrocento-style figures painted in glowing colours, is exemplified in the 12 frescoed panels of ministrations of angels (1872–9; reworked 1880s) at Marlborough College Chapel, Wilts, painted at the suggestion of the architect G. F. Bodley, with whom he was also associated at the Anglican Church, Florence.

Bibliography
R. Spencer Stanhope (exh. cat., intro. W. de Morgan; London, Carfax Gal., 1909)
A. M. W. Stirling: ‘A Painter of Dreams: The Life of Roddam Spencer Stanhope', A Painter of Dreams and Other Biographical Studies (London, 1916), pp. 287–345
The Last Romantics: The Romantic Tradition in British Art—Burne-Jones to Stanley Spencer (exh. cat. ed. J. Christian; London, Barbican A.G., 1989)

JULIAN TREUHERZ

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