The Art of Anne Brontë
  The Galleries

Anne's brother, Branwell, is the member of the family usually associated with art. He was immensely talented in this field, and from an early age his family 'expected him to have a distinguished career as an artist'.135  By the time he was eighteen years old he was receiving private tuition from William Robinson, a professional portrait painter based in Leeds, and making plans to enrol as a student at the Royal Academy in London. However, he never did take the step of enrolling at the Academy, possibly because he had a greater interest in the writing of poetry and prose: he put much effort into his attempts to get his literary work recognised, and did succeed in having a number of his poems published in a variety of newspapers, such as the Halifax Guardian, and the Bradford Herald; however, the degree of success he attained in this field was quite limited. His failure to enrol at the Royal Academy meant that his family's hopes of an outstanding artistic career for him were never realised, though he did set up his own studio in Bradford, where he worked as a professional portrait painter for almost a year.

Branwell's sisters are rarely associated with art, however, all three were accomplished artists. Here, I present a small selection of Anne's work.

Anne had a great appreciation of being able to re-produce 'the beauties of nature' through drawing and painting, and art was more to her than just a tool of the governess' trade. Her attitude towards art, is, to some degree, expressed in her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, where she makes her heroine a highly competent artist - who, after running away from her brutal husband, maintains herself and child by this means. The following paragraphs from her novel give some indication of how Anne perceived art:

'I almost wish I were not a painter,' observed my companion.
'Why so? One would think at such a time you would most exult in your privilege of being able to imitate the various brilliant and delightful touches of nature.'
'No; for instead of delivering myself up to the full enjoyment of them as others do, I am always troubling my head about how I could produce the same effect upon canvas; and as that can never be done, it is mere vanity and vexation of the spirit.'
'Perhaps you cannot do it to satisfy yourself, but you may and do succeed in delighting others with the result of your endeavours.'
'Well, after all I should not complain: perhaps few people gain their livelihood with so much pleasure in their toil as I do.'
. . . The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.136

In their book, The Art of the Brontës, Christine Alexander and Jane Sellars go on to say:

'The passages in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall [presented above] which describe the beauties of nature as seen through the artist's eye also indicate an innate sensitivity to the visual world. At her best, Anne Brontë drew with an assured eye and a highly competent hand. It is possible . . . to sense her enjoyment in describing in finely pencilled detail the luxuriant foliage of a summertime tree. Although Anne has been characterised in Brontë biography as a gentle, fragile being, it would appear that she was in fact far more pragmatic than her sisters. This, perhaps, was the key to her attitude towards her art: it helped her to earn her living as a teacher and it gave her pleasure in her leisure hours.' 137

Considering the amount of time Anne spent at Scarborough, it is inconceivable to think that she did not make paintings or sketches of the resort: sadly, none are known to have survived. There is only one extant drawing, believed to have been produced while she was at Scarborough, though it is not of the resort itself: it is titled 'What You Please', and presented in 'Gallery 1'.

 N.B:  The background in the galleries has been dimmed to enhance picture radiance. 

  Gallery 1  (7 pics - total 138K)

  Gallery 2  (5 pics - total 129K)


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