Art, On this day..., Painters

On this day… died Adelaide Claxton

Adelaide Sophia Claxton was a Londoner illustrator, painter and inventor of the 19th century. She was one of the two daughters of British painter Marshall Claxton, both Adelaide and her sister Florence followed her father example becoming painters. Nevertheless, Adelaide did not share her father’s love for large oil paintings.

She studied at Cary’s School in the Bloomsbury area, there she began to focus on figure painting in watercolour.

In 1850, Claxton and her family travelled to Australia, where she remained for four years. And in her way to London, she visited in India the city of Calcutta.

Claxton’s work combines literary and fantasy elements, as ghosts and dreams, with scenes of domestic life. She began exhibiting in the Society of Women Artists in late 1850s and in 1896 she exhibited several times at the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Hibernian Academy and Royal Society of British Artists, however she kept exhibiting too at the Society of Women Artists.

Some of her works were so popular that she needed to paint copies, like A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Hampton Court (5 copies) or Little Nell (13 copies). And other works inspired other artists, as Wonderland, a painting of a little girl reading Brothers Grimm tales by a candlelight.

Wonderland (popular print based on a watercolour)

She worked selling satirical and comic illustrations to more than half a dozen periodicals, being one of the first female artists to get part of her living through commercial press like Bow Bells or The Illustrated London News, Judy or London Society. In Judy she was the chief of the illustrators, becoming one of the first British women to work regularly in the magazine market.

Claxton authored two illustrated books: A Shillingsworth of Sugar-Plums in 1867 and Brainy Odds and Ends in 1904.

When she got married in 1874, she started to work less as illustrator, turning her interest to invention, in 1890 several patents were registered under her name, as curiosity, some of her inventions were the “Armpit-Crutch for Bed-Rests and Chair-Backs” or “Ear-caps for outstanding ears”.