Ladies who lithograph

Posted on 24th January 2022 by simonbeattie

For some time, I’ve been aware that lithography seems to have been a useful medium for amateur women artists in the nineteenth century. I blogged once before about one such artist, Josepha Hart Gulston, and I thought I’d share a couple more examples I recently came across.

This volume, entitled ‘Morning Hymn’ on the cover and possibly produced about 1860, contains a series of hand-coloured lithographs, mainly of religious texts, in the style of Owen Jones, Henry Noel Humphreys and their contemporaries.

It has fortunately been possible to piece together something of the artist’s life.  She was born at Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight on 16 February 1836, the daughter of Henry William Keile (sic), a staff surgeon in the Royal Navy, and his wife Caroline Louisa.  Her family were based first on the Isle of Wight, where Ellen, together with her elder brother and three elder sisters, spent their early years.  Sometime in the 1840s the family decided to change the spelling of their name from Keile to Keele before moving to Highfield in South Stoneham near Southampton in the 1850s.  Ellen continued to live with her father and her sister Isabella and when her father died in 1875 at the age of 85 it would appear that Ellen devoted the remainder of her life to raising funds at bazaars for St Denys Church and doing charitable work.  There is a long report for the Hampshire Advertiser when her funeral took place in which she is described as ‘a lady, who did a great deal of good work’ and of the ‘Mother’s Union in which the late Miss Keele took great interest.’

This is an example of a published book, Elvira Anna Phipps’ Memorials of Clutha: or Pencillings on the Clyde (London, 1842), an account of a journey by steamer from Liverpool to Greenock, and visits to Gourock, Fairlie, Dumbarton, Glasgow, Loch Lomond, Eglintoun, and Arran, with many quotations from the poets, as well as three poems by the author. 

The author was the daughter of Colonel Pownall Phipps, who had inherited from his father, a slave owner, valuable estates on St Kitts.  Elvira was born in 1815 at Agra, Uttar Pradesh, in British India, but was settled with a family outside Brighton where she started her education.  On Col. Phipps’ return to England, the family took up residence in the floors above Hatchard’s Library in Piccadilly.  Elvira married Joshua Wilson, a barrister in the court of chancery, and they had five children before her death in 1850.

For more details of these books, please see my recent e-list Image is Everything.

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