Marianne Stokes

Candlemas Day

c.1901

On display at Tate Britain

Artist
Marianne Stokes 1855–1927
Medium
Tempera on wood
Dimensions
Support: 416 x 340 mm
frame: 548 x 474 x 57 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1977
Reference
T02108

Display caption

The Austrian artist Marianne Stokes was based in Britain and enjoyed an international career; her work brought together many ideas in European art, past and present. Candlemas Day was made after working in Holland and recalls Johannes Vermeer as well as more modern impressionist images of Dutch country girls. The subject was also influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and Stokes was part of the revival of medieval egg tempera paint, applied in tiny strokes, which created the pale, pure effect here.

Gallery label, February 2016

Catalogue entry

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.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1976-8: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1979