Magdalen Evans
Sansom & Company Ltd., Bristol, 2009
ISBN 978-1-906593-01-8
ISBN 978-1-904537-85-4

Examples of Adrian Stokes' Paintings
Examples of Marianne Stokes' Paintings
Book: Hungary


The painting lives of Marianne and Adrian Stokes

Amongst the young artists assembled in Brittany in 1883 were the Austrian Marianne Preindlsberger and her Finnish friend Helene Schjerfbeck. Like many of their fellow students travelling to the west coast of France to study plein air realism, they benefited from the rigorous training in the atelier system, and the inspiration of lessons from some of the most celebrated French artists of the day.

Born in Graz in 1855, Marianne had won a scholarship to study for five years in Munich and her reputation was enhanced by the composition of a piece of dance music for her by Johann Strauss 11 in 1875.

The Lancashire-born Adrian Stokes, trained at the Royal Academy Schools, met Marianne in Pont-Aven, and their romance was followed by success for both at the Paris Salon, and at the major London exhibiting societies. In 1884 they married in Austria and soon set off for Capri. She was searching for subjects for portraits and he for landscapes: he wrote articles recording trips to Ireland and to Skagen, where they befriended many other painters. They soon settled in St Ives, where they lived from 1886-99 and where Adrian particularly made an important contribution to the early history of the art colony. Visits to Holland, Dalmažia and Hungary were highly successful and in 1909 their most enduring joint legacy - the lavishly illustrated and amusingly written Hungary - was published.

Utmost Fidelity, the first biography of either artist, is accompanied by a major UK touring exhibition of paintings from museums here and abroad as well as many from private collections. Its title is chosen from a tribute by Adrian to their close friend, John Singer Sargent, with whom they painted in the Alps, most memorably during their internment as the First World War broke out. Generously illustrated, Utmost Fidelity provides a highly individual snapshot of a changing Europe and a fascinating insight into the working lives and relationships between painters in England and Europe at a decisive moment in international art history.

MAGDALEN EVANS is a freelance exhibition organiser and art researcher. She worked at Agnew's in London for over ten years and has organised several exhibitions since becoming freelance, particularly concentrating on women artists from the early 20th century. Now a contributor to The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and to BBC Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour', she is also Treasurer of the Longford Trust, a charity which awards scholarships towards higher education for prisoners and ex-prisoners in the UK. She has a long-standing interest in the potential of visual art to reach to all walks of society, and has organised events for the London Projects committee of the Art Fund (National Art Collections Fund).

Author of several obituaries for The Independent and The Guardian newspapers, and articles for Galleries magazine and The Journal of the Decorative Arts Society, she has previously published a catalogue, Hungarian Journeys, on the Stokeses' extensive tours round eastern Europe before the outbreak of the First World War, accompanying an exhibition in London and the British Embassy in Budapest in 1996. While working full-time she gave a twice-yearly lecture to the Museum Studies post-graduate course at Leicester University and participated in a symposium on the history of art dealing held at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Marianne Stokes Candlemas Day
© Tate, London 2009

Adrian Stokes The Harbour Bar
Leeds Museums and Galleries (City Art Gallery) / Bridgeman Art Library