Henrietta Rae - 1859-1928
SKETCH FOR PSYCHE BEFORE THE TEMPLE OF VENUS
oil on canvas
47.5 by 76.8cm., 18½ by 30½in.
About this painting: Rae began the six-foot long Psyche Before the Throne of Venus in 1892 encouraged and criticised by her neighbour Leighton and William Blake Richmond who lent her his studio in which to paint it. She later took a studio at Norwood in south London and continued to work upon the large painting, eventually finishing it in 1894. The painting received mixed reviews at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1894 but was bought for the prestigious collection of the Scottish mining engineer George McCulloch. More
She gained recognition and success early in her career, specializing in classical, allegorical, and literary subjects, often treated in a grand style and scale; her Psyche at the Throne of Venus (1894) measured 12 feet by 7 feet (305 by 193 cm) and contained 13 figures. Her painting, Eurydice, won medals at exhibitions in Paris and at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
In 1884 she married fellow artist Ernest Normand; but kept her maiden name after marriage, under which she'd already begun to establish her reputation. She and her husband lived in Holland Park with many other artists of the day. Their studio was constantly visited by Leighton, Millais, Prinsep, Watts, and others.
The Normands traveled to Paris in 1890 to study at the Académie Julian with Jules Joseph Lefebvre and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant. In 1897 Rae organized an exhibition of the work of women artists for the Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
Like some other women artists of her time, Rae was a supporter of feminism and women's suffrage.