Helen Allingham in 1903
Helen Mary Elizabeth Paterson
26 September 1848
|Died||28 September 1926|
|Other names||H. Paterson|
|Occupation||illustrator and watercolour artist|
|William Allingham (1874-1889)|
|Website||Helen Allingham society|
Helen Mary Elizabeth Paterson was born on 26 September 1848, at Swadlincote in Derbyshire, the daughter of Alexander Henry Paterson, a medical doctor, and Mary Herford Paterson. Helen Paterson was the eldest of seven children. The family moved to Altrincham in Cheshire when she was one year old. In 1862 her father and her three-year-old sister Isabel died of diphtheria during an epidemic. The family then moved to Birmingham, where some of Alexander Paterson's family lived.
Paterson showed a talent for art from an early age, drawing some of her inspiration from her maternal grandmother Sarah Smith Herford and aunt Laura Herford, both accomplished artists of their day. Her younger sister Caroline Paterson also became a noted artist. She initially studied art for three years at the Birmingham School of Design (founded 1843). She spent a year at the Royal Female School of Art in London, before following her aunt Laura Herford to the National Art Training School, one of the Royal Academy Schools, which would later become the Royal College of Art. In the early stage of her life, Helen was very interested and talented in drawing things. She was inspired by her grandmother, known as Sarah Smith Herford, and her aunt Laura Herford. Although her father died when she was thirteen, Helen continued to grow and express her desires for art. In 1867, she was enrolled in Royal Academy School. She used to sketch figures in black and white colors to sell for money to pay for her expenses. After that, her work sometimes appeared in children's books. Later on, she was very popular for her artworks. She was an watercolourist and illustrator.
While studying at the National Art Training School, Paterson worked as an illustrator, eventually deciding to give up her studies in favour of a full-time career in art. She painted for children's and adult books, as well as for periodicals, including The Graphic newspaper. One highlight was her commission to provide twelve illustrations for the 1874 serialisation of Thomas Hardy's novel Far from the Madding Crowd in Cornhill Magazine. Her illustrations from this era were signed either "H. Paterson" or "H. Allingham". She became a lifelong friend of Kate Greenaway whom she met at evening art classes at the Slade School of Fine Art.
While Vincent Van Gogh was developing as an artist by studying English illustrated journals he was struck by Paterson's work in The Graphic. Although females could not gain the same recognition as men at this point in history, it shows that they made a massive impact in art for centuries, as artists like Van Gogh were influenced by her.
On 22 August 1874 she married William Allingham, Irish poet and editor of Fraser's Magazine, who was almost twice her age. After her marriage she gave up her career as an illustrator and turned to watercolour painting. In 1881 the family moved from Chelsea to Witley in Surrey. Her first son was born in November 1875 and was named Gerald Carlyle. Her daughter was born on 21 February 1877 and her last son on 11 May 1882. Helen started to paint the beautiful countryside around her and particularly the picturesque farmhouses and cottages of Surrey and Sussex for which she became famous. To her critics, however, despite elements of protest in 'The Condemned Cottage' for example, hers was an overly sentimental, conservative vision of the area. She went on to paint rural scenes in other parts of the country - Middlesex, Kent, the Isle of Wight and the West Country - and abroad in Venice, Italy. As well as landscapes, she completed several portraits, including one of Thomas Carlyle. In 1890, she became the first woman to be admitted as a full member of the Royal Watercolour Society. Allingham exhibited her work at the Palace of Fine Arts at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.
William Allingham 1876
A Cottage With Sunflowers At Peaslake
Thomas Carlyle, historian and essayist (1795–1881)
The signature H. Paterson, afterwards so familiar, was seen for the first time in the number for April 16, 1870, ...