A summer's day
Oil on canvas: 30(h) x 20(w) in /
76.2(h) x 50.8(w) cm
Signed lower left: DOROTHEA SHARP.
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Dartford, Kent 1873 – 1955 London
A summer’s day
Signed lower left: DOROTHEA SHARP.
Oil on canvas: 30 x 20 in / 76.2 x 50.8 cm
Frame size: 38 x 27 ½ in / 96.5 x 69.8 cm
Arthur Howell, St George’s Gallery
Private collection, then by descent
Private collection, Barnstaple
The work of Dorothea Sharp is articulated through the warm, idyllic world she continuously creates in her impressionistic oil paintings. Female, British artist Dorothea Sharp, harmoniously depicts the two, young ambling girls of A summer’s day in her most characteristic style. Joyful yet nostalgic, Sharp’s touching tributes to childhood are some of the greatest composed. The present work captures the unencumbered joy of childhood whilst demonstrating Sharp’s mastery of Impressionism’s bold and vivid brushwork, it is a painting imbued with an almost dream-like haze of sentimentality.
Dorothea Sharp did not see the work of the Impressionists and Claude Monet (1840-1926) for herself until she was studying in Paris during her late-twenties. The experience entirely shifted her early practice. ‘The inspiration of their work was so instant and dramatic that she suddenly switched styles, no longer able to paint in her previous, more conventional way. She recounts in her book that the colours she now used were light French Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, a very little amount of Vermilion or Rose Madder added to Flake White, in order to create rich shadows which often played the most important part in accentuating the warm, sunlit areas in her paintings.’ In A summer’s day, Sharp’s spontaneous, energetic brushstrokes and her use of bright, seasonal colours adds to the vitality of the scene; which beautifully conveys long-lost days of adventure and the carefree innocence of youth.
Dorothea Sharp, Over the hills and far away Dorothea Sharp, At the seaside
Oil on canvas: 97 x 114 cm Oil on canvas: 82.8 x 85.3 cm
Mansion House, Cardiff National Museum Wales, Cardiff
The Editor of The Artist praised Dorothea Sharp as ‘one of England’s greatest living woman painters’, and commented upon the particular attraction of her art: ‘No other woman artist gives us such joyful paintings as she. Full of sunshine and luscious colour, her work is always lively harmonious and tremendously exhilarating … the chief attractions of Miss Sharp’s delightful pictures are her happy choice of subjects, and her beautiful colour schemes. Rollicking children bathed in strong sunlight, playing in delightful surroundings, her subjects appeal because they are based on the joy of life. And she presents them equally happily, with a powerful technique which enables her to make the most of her wonderful sense of colour’ (Harold Sawkins, Dorothea Sharp, ROI, RBA, The Artist, April 1935, pp. 55-8).
Born at Dartford in Kent, it was not until the age of twenty-one that Sharp seriously took up painting. The death of an uncle, who left her one hundred pounds, enabled her to study at the art school run by C. E. Johnson, RI, in Richmond, Surrey. She then attended the Regent Street Polytechnic where she was greatly encouraged by Sir George Clausen and Sir David Murray, visiting critics to the Polytechnic Sketch Club. It was in Paris that Sharp achieved her complete artistic development. There she studied under Castaluchio, ‘from whom she states she learnt all she knows’. It was the work of Claude Monet, however, that was to have a profound and lasting effect on her art, resulting in the highly impressionistic and spontaneous style that she was to adopt for the rest of her life. Sharp exhibited regularly throughout her career at many institutions including the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of British Artist, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Society of Women Artists of which she acted as President for four years. She held her first one-woman show at the Connell Gallery in 1933, which proved a great success and was constantly attended by admiring visitors. Although primarily a painter of pictures, Sharp also designed posters and covers for magazines, and wrote a series of articles on Oil Painting, which first appeared in The Artist, and were later published by James Connell and Sons.
 Helen Entwisle, The Biography of Dorothea Sharp, Rock Pools & Sunshine, York: The Ebor Press, 2008, p.42