John Roddam Spencer Stanhope: (1829 - 1908) Stanhope came from an aristocratic, monied background, and was educated, unsurprisingly, at Eton and Oxford. It would be wrong to imagine that his privileged background gave him an easy entre into the world of art, as his parents were opposed to his becoming an artist, and actively discouraged his artistic ambitions.
Though older than Burne-Jones, Stanhope was strongly influenced by him and was initially a follower of his. As he matured as an artist the painter developed his own distinctive style. His works were allegorical and mythical, and he was a great colourist. Initially Stanhope studied with G F Watts, with whom he visited Italy twice in the 1850s. He worked on the unsuccessful murals at the Oxford Union in the also in the 1850s, meeting Rossetti at this time. The painter sometimes exhibited at the Royal Academy, though he mainly used the Grosvenor, the Dudley, and the New galleries.
Stanhope suffered severely from asthma, and as a result moved to live in Florence in 1880. Burne-Jones felt that Stanhope’s art suffered from his move to Italy, which took him away from his artistic milieu, and the painter regarded himself as an exile. Florence remained his home for the rest of his life, and he painted frescoes in the Anglican church there. Stanhope was the uncle and teacher of the painter Evelyn de Morgan nee Pickering (1855-1919). I always feel that the Stanhope, Strudwick, and Evelyn de Morgan who were all influenced by Burne-Jones, produced beautiful decorative pictures of a very high standard.
Recently the de Morgan Foundation left Old Battersea House, and set up its own museum. To finance this move the Stanhope pictures it held in its collections were, controversially sold, and failed to reach their expected price. I note from a report in The Daily Telegraph on Monday 27th January 2003, that “Love and The Maiden,” often held to be Stanhope’s masterpiece has been purchased from the Australian collector John Schaeffer, by the Trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, for the Californian Palace of the Legion of Honour, a museum overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. The price paid was greater than the £727,500 paid by Schaeffer at Christie’s in 1997. Once again public collections in the United States have shown more awareness of the value of Victorian art, than the pseuds and poseurs who make up a major part of the art establishment in Great Britain.