The Life of John Church Dempsey (1802-1877), artist

John Church Dempsey found his way on to my radar as we have previously looked at a couple of his paintings, ‘Black Charley‘ and ‘Jemmy, The Rockman‘ and so, I wanted to find out a little more about his life.

John was baptised in 1802 at the non-conformist chapel in Walcot, Bath, to parents Edward and his wife, Martha. Edward was possibly the master of St. Michael’s Poorhouse, in Bath, who died in 1826 from apoplexy, but further proof is needed to confirm this at present. According to baptism records, John appears to have been an only child and possibly born later in their marriage.

In 1819 at Bedminster, Somerset there is a curious marriage entry for a John Church Dempsey to a Hagar Maber. If this was his marriage and there’s no reason to doubt it, then he married at a mere 17 years old. There is no sign of his bride after their marriage, nor any evidence of her demise so far, so quite how long this marriage lasted remains unknown.

1, Chapel Row, Bath. Google maps
1, Chapel Row, Bath. Google maps

Two years after this marriage John was advertising his services as a portrait painter in the Bath Chronicle of 13 December 1821, the property still exists as you can see from above. Given that he was a mere 19-years-old, it seems highly unlikely that he had received any formal training as an artist, so perhaps just a natural talent for capturing likenesses.

And this one just a couple of days later.

Quite how much time John spent living in Bath seems unclear, as his paintings seem to show that during the 1820’s he travelled all around the country from north to south and east to west, over a period of just two years, during which time he painted at least 51 paintings of some fascinating characters, perhaps he thought he would achieve more by painting ‘ordinary people’ rather than the great and the good who lived Bath to take the waters and socialise.

He then seems to vanish for a number of years, reappearing in 1841 in the St James’s district of Bristol where he continued to work as an artist and was living with someone by the name of Sarah. It seems unclear as to who this Sarah was, but she was about 7 years his junior and not from the county. The 1841 census was a little vague on information so it was impossible to tell who this woman was at that stage.

Mark Custings, known as Blind Peter and his boy, Norwich, 1823 by John Dempsey. NPG, Australia
Mark Custings, known as Blind Peter and his boy, Norwich, 1823 by John Dempsey. NPG, Australia

However, three years later John married for a second time, interestingly his new wife was Sarah Neal Muirhead, the widow of Alexander Muirhead of Alverstoke near Fareham, Hampshire. John and Sarah married at nearby Portsea, so it seems feasible that his new wife was the one named on the 1841 census and perhaps it just took them a while to make their relationship legal.

Their marriage entry confirmed that John was also a widow and that his father, Edward, was a gentleman, as was John. John has been described as a semi-itinerant, quite how that description befits a gentleman I’m not quite sure.

Wilkerson, Crier, Ipswich 1823 by John Dempsey NGP Australia
Wilkerson, Crier, Ipswich 1823 by John Dempsey NGP Australia

In 1845, not only was John an artist but both he and Sarah were running a stationery shop and from there they were not only selling art-related material but also dealing in pictures, lamps and chandeliers.

This diversion from his art was perhaps due to lack of funds as the following year he was declared a bankrupt. The couple moved from their home to one on Barr’s Street, Bristol sometime after this where John was to continue working as an artist, but also interestingly, took on an additional role as a tin plate worker.

By the 1860s clearly, John was aware of the progression of the medium of photography and this fairly new technology was one that John was to embrace as he described himself as a ‘photograph artist’ on the 1861 census.

Dempsey, John Church, fl 1820s-1870s :Rev John H Bumby, late General Superintendant of Wesleyan Missions in New Zealand. Published by J Dempsey, Artist, Gallery of Likenesses, Lower Arcade, Bristol [ca. 1840]
Dempsey, John Church, fl 1820s-1870s: Rev John H Bumby, late General Superintendant of Wesleyan Missions in New Zealand. Published by J Dempsey, Artist, Gallery of Likenesses, Lower Arcade, Bristol [ca. 1840]
He obviously felt this new technology wasn’t for him and by 1871 he returned to being a landscape artist, so right back to where he began his career. John was to die on 9th February 1877 at his home, 32, Upper Arcade, Bristol. Sarah lived for a further 24 years, spending the remainder of her life living at Trinity Almshouse, Bristol.

There are still many of his paintings in the collection which need to have their stories told … maybe one day they’ll all be clearly identified.

Bunman, Plymouth by John Dempsey NPG Australia
Bun man, Plymouth by John Dempsey NPG Australia

Sources

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 7 December 1826

Births, Marriages and Death registers

Featured Image 

‘The Singing Minstrel’, Billy Button (b.c.1778–1838). John Church Dempsey (1802–1877)  Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

18th Century Bristol

Many people immediately think of places such as Bath, Harrogate and Cheltenham when thinking about iconic eighteenth-century towns and cities, but Bristol still retains much of its Georgian era heritage. Following a trip to the city recently we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the old buildings.

Bristol stands on the River Avon and is spanned by the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which opened in 1864, but was based on a design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1753 as a means of crossing the Avon Gorge and the design was contributed to by the inventor, Sarah Guppy.

View of the Avon and Hotwells Showing the Foundations for Windsor Terrace by Thomas Leeso Rowbotham
View of the Avon and Hotwells Showing the Foundations for Windsor Terrace by Thomas Leeso Rowbotham; Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives.

Bristol was well-known as a centre for trade and was the second largest port until the mid-eighteenth century when Liverpool took over the position as it had more capacity. Bristol’s main trades were in sugar, coffee, tobacco and chocolate which were produced in the Caribbean by the slave trade.

One of the main streets in Bristol that has survived largely intact is that of Corn Street, which now accommodates banks, shops, restaurants and an indoor market, known as St Nicholas Market.

Corn Street, Bristol © Sarah Murden
Corn Street, Bristol © Sarah Murden

Within the market itself, there is an old pub, known as the Rummer, which has stood there since 1742 and is still open today.

The Rummer Hotel © Sarah Murden
The Rummer Hotel © Sarah Murden

The building had side structures with two storeys of shops and offices which were used by insurance dealers. One of these became the Corn Exchange and was formally opened on 18th October 1813.

The Exchange, Bristol © Sarah Murden
The Exchange, Bristol © Sarah Murden

From the Cheltenham Chronicle, 28 October 1813

On Monday last the new established Corn Market in the Exchange, Bristol was regularly opened. The boxes in which samples are exhibited upon the plan of Mark Lane, London, form a line on the south side. Considerable business was transacted; and no doubt great benefit will be derived from the establishment. The market days are Monday and Thursday. A very respectable party dined together at the Rummer Tavern, after business was over to celebrate the opening.

The Corn Exchange building which leads into the markets was built around 1740, by John Wood the Elder.  Outside the building are four pillars, known as ‘the nails’.

The Nails, Corn Street, Bristol © Sarah Murden
The Nails, Corn Street, Bristol © Sarah Murden

The oldest pillar is reputed to date back to the end of the Elizabethan era. The second oldest was given by Bristol merchant Robert Kitchen, who died in 1594. The other two are dated 1625 and 1631. On top of the pillars were ‘containers’ with slightly raised edges which were used by merchants, the money would be placed inside the container without risk of it falling out. It is said that the phrase ‘paying on the nail’ originates from the use of these (it’s a great story, but probably not true).

Also, on the front of the building, there is a clock, You can see from this photo that there are two ‘minute’ hands, one in red, the other black. The reason for this is that Bristol had its own time which was ten minutes slower than Greenwich Mean Time but, with the advent of the railways, it was necessary to have a standard time, i.e. GMT, but Bristol also retained its own local time.

The Corn Exchange clock, showing the 2nd minute hand, ten minutes behind GMT © Sarah Murden
The Corn Exchange clock, showing the 2nd, minute hand, ten minutes behind GMT © Sarah Murden

The Commercial Rooms

The Commercial Rooms, Bristol © Sarah Murden
The Commercial Rooms, Bristol © Sarah Murden

In November 1808 funds were raised to build an exclusive club for merchants to meet. The sum of £10,000 was raised within a 24-hour period, but it wasn’t until February 1810 that adverts began to appear in the newspapers for tradesmen to apply via sealed bids to carry out the work and the first stone was laid on 19th March 1810.  The portico is of the Grecian Ionic order, with the three statues above personifying the City, Commerce and Navigation. The first president of the Commercial Rooms was John Loudon McAdam, the inventor of Tarmac.

Fry’s Chocolate

Those like us who are lovers of chocolate will be pleased to know that Bristol was also renowned for its chocolate manufacture; way back in the late 1720s Joseph Fry senior invested in an apothecary, Walter Churchman who found the ideal way to produce chocolate and set up a factory, Castle Mills.

So confident of his new product was Walter, that he published the technical specifications for it in the London Evening Post in 1737.

Sadly ‘the great chocolate maker’s’ life was to end only 4 years later. The business was continued by his brother, Charles Churchman and in 1761 Joseph Fry and his partner John Vaughan acquired the patent for a water-powered machine which ultimately led to the establishment of the brand we know today as Fry’s chocolate.

Below is an advert from 1750 for his chocolate detailing how to eat it and its benefits.

Chocolate advert, 1750

Advert for Frys chocolate - Caledonian Mercury 11 May 1801
Advert for Fry’s chocolate – Caledonian Mercury 11 May 1801

Royal York Crescent, Clifton

The Royal Crescent, Bristol perched high above the city. © Sarah Murden
The Royal Crescent, Bristol perched high above the city. © Sarah Murden

The area of Clifton stands above the city and was where the affluent of Bristol live, to avoid the squalor of the city itself in the Georgian Era. The main street was the Royal York Crescent. A plan, known as ‘The Bristol Tontine’ was devised on 26th December 1782 by Mr James Lockier, a merchant, to build the Crescent, consisting of 46 houses. There would be 700 shares at £100 each, after the properties were built they were to be sold making the shareholders a substantial profit.

Their aspect was to be nearly due south with views of the Clifton Hill. Each house was to be 25 feet in front and 54 feet in depth. They would have drawing-room 27 feet by 23 feet, dining room 27 feet by 17 feet, with excellent lodging rooms, good offices and everything that can contribute to render them desirable dwellings for families of respectability and consequence, with a spacious terrace and shrubbery in front.

It was a fascinating city to visit and far too much to see to include everything in this post, but hopefully, it gives a flavour of the city. It was amazing to see places that would have been so familiar to our Georgian Heroine who lived there in the early 1800s, both in the city itself and also at Clifton.

Featured Image

View over the Avon. British School. Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives

Update – Ellen Sharples mother of Rolinda Sharples

As promised a brief update on the death of Ellen Sharples. One of the first rules you learn when researching anyone is to always check information and seek validation whenever possible. Regarding Rolinda’s mother, Ellen – lesson learnt, we naively assumed that the location of Ellen’s burial was Wybunbury, Cheshire as that seems to have been cited on several websites.

We did think it looked strange given that we knew Ellen had remained in Bristol, but of course we couldn’t trace the source of this supposition. Armed with only a year of death we checked the National Burial Index and nothing except for a curious entry for the burial of an Ellen Sharples at St Chad, Wybunbury.  At first we thought it must be her until we checked the date only to find that this Ellen was buried some two hundred years previously. This led us to check the Births, Marriage and Death records which confirmed that an Ellen Sharples had died early 1849 in Bristol – this must be the right one. So next we checked the Bristol newspaper for that year and bingo, we found her funeral details – quite a funeral it was too. It just goes to prove that you shouldn’t always believe what you read on the web and that you must check it out for yourself!

Bristol Mercury – Saturday 24 March 1849

The late Mrs Sharples:-  The funeral of this lady whose death is recorded in this day’s obituary, and whose memory deserves to be cherished by every lover of the fine arts in this city as long as Bristol endures, took place on Wednesday last, at Clifton church. Many of our readers will recollect that some five years since Mrs. Sharples presented to the trustees of the Bristol Fine Arts Academy the sum of £2000, for the purpose of founding and supporting that institution; and it now appears from the deceased lady’s will that, after deducting certain bequests and legacies, the residue of her property is bequeathed to the academy.  We may, therefore, reasonably hope that ere long we shall witness in our city the erection of a building exclusively devoted to art, which shall be an enduring monument of the munificence of the deceased, and one of the architectural glories of Bristol.  The funeral procession left St Vincent’s parade, the late Mrs Sharples residence, about 11 o’clock in the forenoon, in the following order:-

Chariot containing the officiating minister, the Rev. J Hensman,

 

Truncheonmen

 

THE HEARSE

Mourning coach, in which were J.S Hardford Esq, President;

P.W.S Miles Esq., 

The High- Sheriff, and G.H Ames, Esq., the Treasurer of the Fine Arts Academy;

The Hon. Secretary, Jere Hill, Esq., and Robert Bright, Esq one of the trustees of the academy, followed on foot, together with the members of the committee, and nearly all the resident artists of Bristol, in deep mourning

The private carriages of the High-Sheriff, of P.W.S Miles, J.S Harford and G.H Ames Esqrs, closed the procession.

 

We hope in our next to be enabled to give a few particulars of the history of the deceased, and of her talented daughter, who died some years since, and many of whose paintings have now become  property of the Bristol Academy

 There have been numerous newspaper reports since Ellen’s death relating to the Academy, but one that stood out was in the Bristol Mercury, Saturday 20th May 1882 which confirmed that Ellen left a legacy of £4,500 to the Academy along with 97 pictures. The article went on to criticize Bristol for its lack of interest in the arts, demonstrated by the lack of donations made and worries about the future of the Academy.  A previous article dated  19th February 1853 gave the amount of her bequest as being £6,000; the article also said that the Academy should be for the sole use of artists and no-one else which caused problems as others felt that such a building should be made available for everyone to use; it’s not clear what the outcome of this debate was.

We will of course continue with our research and provide updates as and when we find out anything more about the family.

Rolinda Sharples (1793-1838)

Whilst searching for clues provided for us in old documents by the heroine of  one of our books, we inadvertently stumbled across the artist Rolinda Sharples (1793– 1838). Our heroine says that she had a self portrait painted by ‘the best female artist in Bristol’, around 1815. This led us to the conclusion that there could only be two possible candidates for that position – either Rolinda or her mother. So this of course led us to research Rolinda’s life a little more, to see if we could make any connection. Unfortunately for us there doesn’t appear to be any  record of her commissions, which leaves us unable to prove conclusively that we have found the correct artist. However, the Sharples family life was so interesting that we decided to carry out some further research, hence their place on our blog.

Rolinda was part of an amazing family of artists headed by her father James, who established themselves in England, travelled to America set up an incredibly successful practice there and then returned to England.

Portrait of the Artist by Rolinda Sharples, 1814; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Portrait of the Artist by Rolinda Sharples, 1814; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

We begin Rolinda’s story with the birth of her father, James. James Sharples was born  into a minor landed gentry family from Lancashire. He was the son of George Sharples and was  baptized on 27th May 1748 at St Anne’s Church, Woodplumpton, Lancashire. The Sharples family were deeply divided between Catholicism and Puritanism, James’s side of the family being Catholic. His father was George Sharples and his mother was Ann Harrison, a widow when she married George. Her previous husband had been Richard Talbot of Lancashire, and from this marriage James had a half-sister named Elizabeth (1738-1803) who became a nun in the order of the Holy Sepulchre in Liege. With a fortune of £285 which she donated to the order in return for 17 florins a year for life she took the name of Sister Mary Hellen Aloysia.  She returned with the order as sub-prioress in the 1790’s when it returned to England and became the order of the Holy Cross. Besides his half-sister James had two full siblings, an older brother Henry (1740-1804 who became a successful timber merchant in Liverpool, and a sister Margaret who joined her half-sisters order. Margaret, who was admitted with no fortune at the age of 16 years and 8 months took the name of Sister Mary Felix Joseph and died in 1783.

Some sources say that James was sent to a Jesuit College in France to train for the priesthood, but quickly ‘opted out’ in favour of returning to England to become an artist where he became a pupil of George Romney. He was at the Jesuit College in Bruges in 1770 when his uncle William Harrison wrote to him.  James wanted money to return home, but was criticized by his uncle instead for being of a ‘fickle and unsettled disposition’.  James’ benefactor at the time was Lord Stourton, a Catholic relation of the Duke of Norfolk whose son was also at the Jesuit College at Bruges.  The Sharples family back in Woodplumpton had fallen on hard times; George had died in 1761 and his widow Ann who had carried on in business trading in cloth had been declared bankrupt once.  By 1774 he was exhibiting his work with the Liverpool Society of Artists.

By 1779 he had moved to Cambridge, then, in 1781 he moved again, this time to Bristol where he taught drawing – clearly his wanderlust was beginning to appear! We know that he was in Bristol at this time as a notice was placed in the Bristol Journal, ‘Mr Sharples from Bath, Portrait Painter in oils and crayons, begs leave to inform the nobility that he has removed from Hartwells to Mrs Jeffery’s , milliner, 28 Clare Street , where upwards of one hundred specimens of known characters may be seen.’ In 1783 he gave his address as 45 Gerrard Street in London.

James was to marry twice before meeting his final wife and co-artist Ellen. His first two wives who both died young may have shared his recusant faith, and so records on them are not forthcoming. With his first wife he produced a son George, then, with his second wife, he fathered another son, Felix Thomas. Both of these sons became artists and possibly one of his former wives was a celebrated needlewoman. In 1783 a ‘Mrs Sharpless … Needle Worker exhibited a piece at the Society of Artists, giving her address as 45 Gerrard Street and being described as ‘Embroideress to Her Majesty’.  After the death of his second wife James went to live with his older brother Henry in Liverpool, renting a house on Everton Hill.

Whilst living in Bristol a ‘pupil and young lady of fashion’ caught his eye and became his third wife, she being Ellen Wallas (often shown as Wallace). Some reports say that Ellen was a Quaker, however, if she were a Quaker and James a Catholic it seems curious that they should have chosen to marry at St Mary’s Church, Lancaster on 5th January 1787. The proof of their marriage lies in the marriage register itself with Ellen’s signature – Ellen in fact, signed her name Wallas and not Wallace. The other curious piece of information is that there is a record in the baptism register of St Peter’s Church, Bolton Le Moors, for a child – James Sharples son of James and Ellen dated 22nd May 1785, i.e. prior to their marriage, so we can only draw the conclusion that James was born out of wedlock, although most sources give his birth date as c.1788.

Mrs Ellen Sharples (1769–1849) by Rolinda Sharples, 1814; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Mrs Ellen Sharples (1769–1849) by Rolinda Sharples, 1814; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

The parish register for the 1st October 1793 at Bath Easton, near Bath shows the baptism of Rolinda Sharples, daughter of James and Helen (known as Ellen) Sharples, (some websites inaccurately say that she was born in America). The reality is however, that shortly after the birth, at the instigation of Robert Cary, a London merchant the family packed their bags and set off for America.

Their passage to America was somewhat arduous and early on their ship was captured by a French privateer and the family was interned at Brest for seven months. Later, in 1803 when James (junior) reported news of war with France, Ellen briefly recalls the terrible ordeal in her diary:

War! how dreadful the sound, whichever way contemplated misery precedes,
accompanies, and follows in its train. Our family have experienced; severely
experienced much of its misery, and much did we witness during our seven months
captivity in France, too heart rending to red [sic].

After their release, they continued their journey across the ocean and arrived in America to begin a new life. Records of arrivals in America show that James arrived in New York early 1796, his name being recorded as James Sharpless which, he decided was easier for Americans to understand.

James set about gaining commissions, with his most famous commission being that of a portrait of George Washington, the original being drawn in 1796. Sharples was literally a pastel portrait painter, almost the only serious artist using this medium in the USA at the time. His colours were kept in small glass vessels and applied with a brush; he made a collection of portraits for himself merely requesting a sitting for a portrait to add to his pictures. This was probably an ingenious plan to obtain patronage, for duplicates were generally ordered. He finished a portrait in about two hours and charged fifteen dollars for the profile and twenty for the full face.

George Washington by James Sharples. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
George Washington by James Sharples.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

The whole family engaged in artistic work and became copyists to James. Ellen appears to have been an amazingly independent woman and was one of the first professional female artists in America. With this in mind Ellen paid particular attention to her daughter’s education and development as an artist in her own right. Ellen held very progressive views on the education and independence of women. By 1803 Ellen had begun to encourage Rolinda to take an interest in art and taught her drawing and encouraged her by paying her small amounts for her work. By the time she was 13 Rolinda was a fully fledged member of the family business. She painted small scale pastel portrait of famous people and then copied them and sold them for a profit. Full accounts of the family life still remain in the form of Ellen’s diary, family papers, accounts, details of them building up a family business.

One story about the family tells how they travelled in a stagecoach near Middletown, Connecticut. The horses took fright and dashed off with Rolinda as the only occupant. Although she escaped injury James decided that it wasn’t a safe way to travel so built a large caravan drawn by one horse which they travelled about in from then on – quite the gypsy traveller!

In 1801 the family returned home, living in Bath, Bristol and London for some years.  A planned return to America in 1806 was hampered by fears of war with France, and only James Jr and Felix took passage.  James senior, his wife Ellen and daughter Rolinda finally sailed for America in 1809.

The Hot Wells, Bristol; British School, 1800; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
The Hot Wells, Bristol; British School, 1800; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Tragically, on February 6th 1811 whilst in New York, James died, aged 59, according to the New York Evening Post, leaving an estate worth some thirty-five thousand dollars. After burying James at the catholic cemetery Ellen returned to Bristol taking Rolinda with her; the two boys James and Felix remained in America. George, James’s son from his first marriage did not appear to be with the family, but was mentioned in his father’s will.

Felix Thomas worked mainly in Suffolk County, as a pastellist. He was described as being extremely fond of his food and drink. Rumour has it that whilst working in Yardley at the home of the Winder family, Felix made a hasty departure in 1812, never to be heard of again. Various rumours suggested that he fell victim to small-pox, that he drowned in a shipwreck and that he committed suicide. However, the reality was that he joined the army. American records show him as having joined Gayle’s 61st Regiment, Virginia Militia, in 1812 reaching the rank of Corporal. He died in the 1830’s of natural causes and was buried at Yeatman Plantation Cemetery, Matthews County.

 

Rolinda, by this time was moving on from painting small portraits and earned her living painting portraits in oil and more ambitious genre and contemporary history paintings that depicted groups. In 1814, Rolinda painted a self-portrait, and in 1815 she completed a double portrait entitled ‘The Artist and Her Mother’.

The Artist and Her Mother by Rolinda Sharples, 1816; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
The Artist and Her Mother by Rolinda Sharples, 1816; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Rolinda was elected an honorary member of the Society of British Artists in 1827 and was one of the first female artists to paint multi-figure compositions.  Her major works include ‘The Cloak Room, Clifton, Assembly Rooms’, ‘Racing on the Downs’ and ‘The Trial of Colonel Brereton’. Her works were exhibited at Bristol, Leeds, Carlisle and Birmingham.

The Cloak-Room, Clifton Assembly Rooms by Rolinda Sharples, 1818; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
The Cloak-Room, Clifton Assembly Rooms by Rolinda Sharples, 1818; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

One of her most famous paintings was that of ‘The Trial of Colonel Brereton‘ painted after The Bristol Reform Riots of 1831. The riots were a protest at the House of Lords preventing the Reform Bill from passing through Parliament. Lieutenant Colonel Brereton was court-martialled in January 1832 for sending his squadron away on the Saturday night in the midst of the chaos. Some people thought that Brereton could have done more to save the city from destruction if he had acted earlier and more decisively. For others, however, Brereton had been trying to hold his troops back from violence against the rioters. Many people thought that he was being made a scapegoat for the failure of the city magistrates to support him and give him orders to cope with the rioting. Tragically, Brereton shot himself four days after the trial began. Rolinda not only sketched during the trial, but also as some of those attending to sit for her. A slight element of artistic licence here – the lady seated at the bottom centre of the painting was none other than her mother, positioned in such a way as to appear to be overseeing the proceedings – very clever!

The Trial of Colonel Brereton by Rolinda Sharples, 1834; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
The Trial of Colonel Brereton by Rolinda Sharples, 1834; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

For the last few years of her life she lived with her mother in the Hotwells district of Bristol and died of breast cancer in 1838. There remains a plaque at Rolinda’s old house on Canynge Road in Clifton which reads “Ellen Sharples (1769-1849) and Rolinda Sharples (1793-1838) mother and daughter artists lived here 1821-1832”.

A year and a half after Rolinda’s demise James junior was also to die of pneumonia leaving just Ellen who spent her remaining years accompanied by her servant Maria Johnson at St Vincent’s Parade, Clifton, until her her death aged,80. She was to die leaving no heirs leaving no heirs so she decided to donate over 90 pictures to The Museum at Bristol, as well as her own and Rolinda’s and James Junior’s.

Jane Austen has been described as a ‘provincial novelist’ and Rolinda as a ‘provincial artist’. There appears to be a wide gap of public awareness between the two women, what’s your view of this?

Further information about  about Ellen Sharples and here