Elizabeth Southerden Thompson Biography | Oil Paintings.

11-3-1846 Lausanne, SUI – 10-2-1933 Meath, IRE

Thompson, Elizabeth Southerden

Elizabeth Southerden Thompson was born in Switzerland and grew up in Italy, receiving her art instruction starting in 1862 at the age of sixteen. At twenty, she went to London to study at the Female School of Art in South Kensington. The family moved to Florence in 1869 where Thompson attended the Accademia di Belle Arti under the tutelage of the artist Giuseppe Bellucci. Elizabeth and the whole family converted to Roman Catholic while in Florence.

In Italy, she mainly concentrated on religious subjects like The Magnificat, but a year later upon going to Paris in 1870 she saw the battle scenes painted by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier and Édouard Detaille and was so moved and impressed that she immediately switched her focus to war paintings. With the painting Missing, a Franco-Prussian War battle scene painted in 1873, she earned her first submission to the Royal Academy. The following year when After Calling the Roll After An Engagement, Crimea, better known as The Roll Call, was shown at the Academy, she became a nineteenth-century celebrity, due to the paintings' immense popularity. The work had been commissioned for £100 (equivalent to US$14,000 today) by a Manchester industrialist Charles Galloway, however, Queen Victoria insisted, and she bought it.

Elizabeth Southerden Thompson oil paintings were patriotically realistic in detail with British troops shown in action, or shortly after it while also showing soldiers in confusion, mud, and exhaustion, but avoiding moments of close hand-to-hand combat. The paintings often are from the viewpoint of the enemy, but relatively few of the opponents are ever shown.

Elizabeth Southerden Thompson's career and fame crested when in 1877 at the age of thirty-one, she married Sir William Francis Butler, a distinguished Irish officer of the British Army. Now she would not have all the time she needed to paint as she did, traveling to all the parts of the British Empire with her husband and raising their six children. Although Lady Butler came under the influence of her Irish husband's belief that colonial imperialism was not in the best interest of the natives, she continued to paint scenes showing the valor of the ordinary British soldier.

When her husband retired from the army in 1905, they moved live in Bansha Castle in Ireland. Lady Butler was widowed in 1910 but continued to live at Bansha until 1922 when she took up residence with the youngest of her six children.

Elizabeth Southerden Thompson specialized in painting scenes from British military campaigns and battles, including the Crimean War and the Battle of Waterloo.

Artists Influencing Elizabeth Southerden Thompson: Giuseppe Bellucci, Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier, Édouard Detaille.
She Traveled To Italy, France, England, Ireland, India.
Artist Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.

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