“An Early Victorian” (1906) by William Logsdail

In 1890, Logsdail left London for the warmth of the French Riviera, to alleviate his ailments. By the time he had returned in January 1892, his health recovered, he had produced a series of sixty nine small landscapes. In London he was introduced to Mary (May) Ashman:

“…there was something uncommonly attractive about her that made me ask her if she would care to see my studio…She arrived in a whiff of snow…after her walk from Hampstead.”. May became his model and, in the month of May that year, his wife.

Very soon thereafter, the couple moved to Venice, where they lived until 1900 in the Palazzo Contarini. Their first child, Mary, was born in 1894, and Edward William appeared in 1896.

At the turn of the century, William and May decided to return to England so that their children could be educated there. Meaning to stay a short time in Taormina, they lingered for two years, Logsdail producing fifty two paintings.

Their children enrolled at the Froebel Educational Institute, West Kensington, Logsdail began planning a new series of paintings of English cathedrals. He also painted individual portraits of his wife and children.

To his surprise, the portrait of his daughter Mary, shown above, was proclaimed “The Picture of the Year” after being shown at the annual Royal Academy exhibition in 1907. Another surprise to William and May that year was the arrival of a third child, Stuart.

From that year forward, Logsdail concentrated primarily on portraiture (in 1912, he was invited to join the Royal Society of Portrait Painters):

“….no more rising at dawn, no more searching for models and paying them for their services, no more out in the open at the mercy of all weathers with all the difficulties of complicated subjects, no more doubt as to the sale of my work when done.”.

In 1922, Logsdail moved his family to the village of Noke, just north of Oxford, which would be his home until he died in 1944. Edward, who was a test pilot for the RAF, was to die in a plane crash in 1923.

Mary married in 1926, and Stuart in 1932.

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