Dicksee’s ability to flatter his female sitters is evident in the portrait of the forty-eight year old ‘Mamie’ Mary Frances Mackenzie (née Linton 1870-1948), eldest of the three daughters of Captain James Henry Wingfield Linton. She married her second husband Austin Mackenzie in 1913 and wrote playfully in her unpublished memoires: ‘Austin Mackenzie wanted to marry me, and as I had no cook, and he had, I thought it would be the best thing to do.’ She also recalled the sittings for this glamorous portrait by Dicksee; ‘We had a very nice time when my picture was being painted. Frank Dicksee had a house with a big studio in Greville Place just off the far end of Maida Vale. I had twenty-two sittings. We used to walk to Dorchester House just after breakfast and get a No. 16 bus that took us right up Maida Vale to his turning: we always went on top, in front as a rule, and only once was it wet and we had to go inside. The studio was full of beautiful things, pictures, books etc.’ (Unpublished memoirs of M. F. Mackenzie, 1943, vol III, pp. 56-57) Dicksee was initially unsure about how best to pose Mamie and the placing of her left arm was problematic. She asked Dicksee to paint her with her arm resting on the head of Rubie, her beloved Labrador but he tactfully thwarted this idea by saying that he could not paint dogs, despite the fine portrayal of his cousin Herbert’s French bulldog Shaver in his portrait of his neice Dorothy Dicksee painted a year earlier (sold in these rooms, 10 March 2005, lot 247). ‘I told him afterwards that when the picture came out of the Academy I would get an animal painter to put Rubie in, this upset him very much as it seems he admired my arms very much and he told me the painting of my left arm was the best bit of painting he had ever done in his life.’ The painting of Mamie’s other arm was less disputed and she liked the inclusion of a fan as she never felt dressed in the evening unless she was carrying one.
Dicksee’s virtuosity as a painter of textures is demonstrated in Mamie’s portrait with the contrasts of fine lace over ivory chiffon and flawless skin. Dicksee sat Mamie on one of the Chippendale-style sofas that appear in many of his portraits leaning against expensive embroidered cushions, with a tapestry of golden peacocks behind. On her gown she has a fine jewel and in her hair is a diamond pin in the form of a butterfly. 'Dicksee had a distinctive, thickly impasted and textured style of painting; his sensitivity to the qualities of surface is evident in the portraits he painted, where he emphasises the contrasts of textures between materials and the skin and hair of his subjects, as in any of his subject pictures.' (Society Portraits 1850-1939, exhibition catalogue for Colnaghi and The Clarendon Gallery, 1985, p.78)
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale