T02108 CANDLEMAS DAY c.1901
Inscribed with the artist's monogram ‘M.S.’ b.l.
Tempera on mahogany panel prepared with gesso, 16 3/8 × 13 3/8 (417 × 341)
Purchased from the Fine Art Society under the terms of the Chantrey Bequest 1977
Prov: Bt.C.M. Moore from the RA, 1901; no further record until with Abbot & Holder 1969; bt. Fine Art Society; sold A. Ballard 1970; sold Sotheby's Belgravia 10 April 1973 (183); Bt. Jeremy Mass; sold John Anderson; Fine Art Society 1973.
Exh: RA, 1901 (504); The Pre-Raphaelite Influence, Maas Gallery, June–July 1973 (19); RA, May–August 1977 (28)
Lit: Alice Meynell, ‘Mrs Adrian Stokes’, Magazine of Art, 1901, pp.241–6; Wilfred Meynell, Art Journal, 1900. pp.193–8
Repr: Royal Academy Pictures, 1901, p.76
Marianne Stokes, née Priendlsberger, was known primarily as a painter of genre and religious subjects. Born in Austria in 1855, she later studied at the Academies of Gratz and Munich before going to Paris. In 1884, while painting in Brittany, she met and married the English painter Adrian Stokes. Thereafter she regularly exhibited in London, at the Royal Academy, Grosvenor Gallery, London Gallery and elsewhere.
‘Candlemas Day’, the title under which this work was first exhibited in 1901, has also been known as ‘Dutch Girl reading by Candlelight’. In subject it relates to a group of genre paintings she exhibited in a ‘Dutch’ exhibition held jointly with her husband at the Fine Art Society in 1900, in preparation for which they had spent part of the previous year in Holland. This picture was not however included in the exhibition, and in her discussion of Marianne Stokes's latest works in 1901 (op.cit.) Alice Meynell makes it clear that they were done in London, probably in the artist's studio at 6 Edwardes Square, Kensington.
Like a number of other painters with whose work Marianne Stokes has affinities - notably Joseph Southall and the Birmingham school - the artist abandoned oils towards the turn of the century in favour of tempera painting, and, ‘Candlemas Day’ is a good example of her work in this medium. According to Alice Meynell, this change occurred in 1899. It followed her reading of Mrs Christina Herringham's influential translation of Cennino Cennini's The Book of the Art of Cennino Cennini with accompanying Notes on Medieval Art Methods of that year, and her own close study of the Italian primitives. It is clear that Marianne Stokes associated the use of tempera with the purity and simplicity of an earlier art; Wilfred Meynell (op.cit.) noted that ‘Mrs Adrian Stokes regards the choice of medium as practically a matter of ethics’, and quotes her as saying ‘It seems to me a medium which lends itself most to spirituality, sincerity and purity of colour’.
It has not been possible to establish any early history for this work, all labels and inscriptions having been removed prior to its acquisition by the Tate.
The Tate Gallery 1976-8: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1979