Henrietta Rae
British artist



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Henrietta Rae
British artist
Average: 5 (2 votes)

Date of Birth

December 30, 1859

Place of Birth

Hammersmith, United Kingdom

Date of Death

January 26, 1928

Place of Death

Upper Norwood, United Kingdom

More about Henrietta Rae

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To pursue her passion at a young age, 14-year-old Henrietta Rae dropped out of school to copy paintings at the British Museum.

If I had known that was an option, I probably would have deuced out of my school too. But don’t worry, she didn’t remain uneducated for long; after a year, she joined Heatherley’s art school. It was soon after this that Rae’s perseverance would really be put to the test. She had to apply to the Royal Academy six times until she was accepted in 1877. Not only did she have to deal with the sting of the four previous rejection, but the fifth time she applied she was accepted only to have it revoked when the Academy realized that they had admitted too many people. Ouch…

When she finally made it into the Academy, Rae flourished. Her first painting, A Portrait of Miss Warman, was hung by the Academy in 1880 when she was only 20 years old and still a student. It was also during her time at the Academy that she fell in love with her future husband and fellow painter, Ernest Normand. Now let me put things in perspective, it was HARD to find yourself a man at the Royal Academy. The men and women were strictly kept separate at the school and when they did run into each other, they often fought over studio space. Yet somehow Rae and Normand were able to find each other and they were married in 1884. Come on Hollywood, why has this not been made into an artsy romantic comedy yet?

Rae’s art continued to rise in popularity and in 1895 after self-proclaimed “20 years of hard painting” she produced her first uber successful work, Psyche at the Throne of Venus. By this time, she had developed her signature soft colors and allegorical style. She showed a keen interest in mythological and classical figures and by ‘figures’ I mean both the characters and their nude bodies. After painting the nude in A Bacchante and Ariadne, Rae received a letter telling her to stop painting such sinful pieces. When she told her family doctor about this exchange, he famously proclaimed that she should reply to the letter saying that Rae’s "recently born son had arrived in the world nude."

Rae may have been enormously successful, but she, like many artists, was very hard on herself. She was well known for being very self-deprecating. So I’ll leave you with this inspiring quote about her advice for aspiring artists: “Out of my own experience, I can say to any young artist who may be depressed through lack of immediate success- Don’t give up because you have failed to get that commendation for which you had hoped. Even when the cup of success was offered to me there was a big, bitter drop mingled with its sweetness, for one of the critics facetiously described my picture as a glorified Christmas card!”



  2. Henrietta Rae: (Mrs. Ernest Normand) By Arthur Fish

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Henrietta Rae

Henrietta Emma Ratcliffe Rae (30 December 1859 – 26 January 1928) was a prominent English painter of the late Victorian era, who specialised in classical, allegorical and literary subjects. Her best-known painting is The Lady with the Lamp (1891); depicting Florence Nightingale at Scutari.


Henrietta Rae was born on 30 December 1859 in Hammersmith, London, to Thomas Burbey Rae, a civil servant, and Ann Eliza Rae (née Graves), a musician who had been a student of Felix Mendelssohn. She had three brothers and three sisters.

Rae began formally studying art at the age of thirteen, being educated at the Queen Square School of Art, Heatherley's School of Art (as the school's first female pupil) and at the British Museum. Rae reportedly applied to the Royal Academy of Arts at least five times before eventually gaining a seven-year scholarship. Her teachers there included Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, who had the strongest influence on her later work, as well as Frank Bernard Dicksee and William Powell Frith.

In 1884 she married painter and fellow Royal Academy student Ernest Normand, but kept her maiden name – a choice considered unusual at the time – because she had already begun to establish her reputation as an artist, having been a frequent exhibitor at the annual Royal Academy exhibitions since 1881. Rae and Normand lived in Holland Park, the residence of many other artists of the day. Frequent visitors included Leighton, Millais, Prinsep, and Watts. However, the attention was not always welcomed. In her memoirs, Rae described the overbearing attitudes and conduct of some of the more senior artists. In one such case, Prinsep dipped his thumb in cobalt blue paint and marked up one of Rae's pictures. In retaliation, Rae "accidentally" burnt his hat on her stove.

Rae and Normand travelled to Paris in 1890 to study at the Académie Julian with Jules Joseph Lefebvre and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant. In 1893, they moved to Upper Norwood, into a studio that was custom-built for them by Normand's father. The couple had two children, a son (born in 1886) and a daughter (born in 1893).

Rae exhibited her work at the Palace of Fine Arts and The Woman's Building at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

Rae was a supporter of feminism and women's suffrage. In 1897 Rae organised an exhibition of the work of female artists for the Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

She died on 26 January 1928 at Upper Norwood.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Henrietta Rae.