George Elgar Hicks, RBA
1824 - 1914 | British
Signed “G E Hicks 1860”
Oil on panel
This painting was recorded in the artist’s notebook entry for 1860 as The Drive, representing “2 Misses Perry”.
This charming portrait by George Elgar Hicks captures two elegant ladies as they take a carriage ride on a bright, winter morning. Just as they have taken a great deal of trouble over their appearance for their excursion, so too does Hicks take pains to articulate the finer details of the women’s apparel, contrasting the light and dark-haired women in harmonious tones of white, grey, lilac and purple. Hicks painted a variety of subjects including religious scenes, landscapes and his preferred form of genre scenes. His most famous works were his extraordinarily detailed portrayals of Victorian life, which are reminiscent of the great Victorian novelists Dickens and George Augustus Sala in their narrative intensity and documentary power.
Hicks lived most of his life in London and Hampshire. He studied for a medical degree at University College, London, before becoming an artist. He undertook his artistic studies at Sass’s Academy and the Royal Academy Schools, which he entered in 1844, and won a silver medal. A follower of William Powell Frith, Hicks enjoyed a career as both a painter of modern-life subjects and, later as a society portrait painter. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1848, and developed his skill as a portraitist. Many of his works reached their greatest fame through their exhibition at private galleries, which gained enormous prestige in the mid-19th century art world. The vast dissemination of these compelling images in the form of prints ensured Hicks’ enormous and enduring popularity.
The Athenaeum commented upon the significance Hick’s views of Victorian life would hold for future generations: “Mr. G. E. Hicks hit upon a good idea when he resolved to paint for us the scenes which take place at some of the well-known places of business of the City of London...Such pictures, even less well painted than these really are, will be interesting for the future time, and therefore we shall be thankful to get them as creditably executed as [those of Hick’s are.]”
Panel: 9 ¾” high x 7 ¾” wide
Frame: 19” high x 17” wide
Private collection, UK
Rosamond Allwood, George Elgar Hicks: Painter of Victorian Life, exhibition catalogue, Geffrye Museum, London & Southampton Art Gallery, ILEA, 1982, p. 55 (artist’s notebook entry for 1860)
Society of British Artisits, Suffolk Street
Grosvenor Gallery, England
Manchester City Art Gallery, England
Southampton Art Gallery
Geffrye Museum, London
Museum of London
Tate Britain, London
Capetown Museum, South Africa
Royal Society of British Artists
Referrences:Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 1976, E. BénézitDictionary of British Art, Volume IV: Victorian Painters, 1995, C. WoodVictorian Painting, 1999, L. LambourneDavenport’s Art Reference & Price Guide, 1994, R. J. Davenport