1874 - 1955

Dorothea Sharp was born in Dartford, Kent in England. She studied at Regent Street Polytechnic school in London under Sir David Murray and the plein air painter George Clausen, before going on to study in Paris where she was influenced by the work of the French impressionists. Upon her return to London, she became actively involved in the Society of Women Artists in London, exhibiting with them from 1902 on, and at one point became the group’s vice-president.

She also showed work with the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of British Artists, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Paris Salon. Sharp had a permanent base at Blomfield Road, Maida Vale in London (to which the inscription on this work refers), but traveled widely. In the company of the Canadian artist Helen McNicoll, she visited and painted in the artist’s colonies at St Ives, England, in Brittany, at Grès-sur-Loing in France and in Italy. She also traveled and painted throughout southern Europe with fellow artist Marcella Smith.

Sharp became strongly associated with St Ives in the 1920s, visiting in the summers and immersing herself in the subject matter she became renowned for, joyful images of children, often at the beach. Her training and practice as a plein air painter and her absorption of the impressionists’ use of colour and light brought freshness and spontaneity to her images of children in works such as this. In 1928 Sharp was elected an honorary member of the St Ives Society of Artists, and in the late 1930s she settled in the colony for several years. Deeply immersed in artistic life there, she showed with such well-known artists as Laura Knight, Alfred Munnings and Stanhope Forbes. For several years she managed Lanham Galleries in St Ives, which showcased the work of Newlyn and St Ives School painters. In the mid 1940s Sharp returned permanently to her Blomfield Road studio in London, where she remained until her death in 1955.

Suggested reading:

The Shining Sands - Artists in Newlyn and St Ives 1880-1930. Tom Cross. 1994 Halsgrove.
St Ives - Portrait of an Art Colony 1883 - 1993. Marion Whybrow
Morning Tide - John Anthony Park and the Painters of Light. St Ives 1990- 1950. Austin Wormleighton. 1998 Stockbridge Books