Posted 2nd January 2018
Watts Contemporary Gallery
The British watercolourist Helen Allingham RWS (1848-1926) is best known for her depictions of rural England.
Born Helen Paterson in Derbyshire, she initially studied at the Birmingham School of Art before moving to London aged just 17 to pursue a professional career. Training at the Royal Female School of Art, the prestigious Royal Academy Schools, and later at the Slade School of Art, Allingham became a successful illustrator and artist.
Allingham began to pursue a career as a graphic artist and book illustrator while studying at the Royal Academy. Following in the footsteps of John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt and Frederick Sandys, Allingham created illustrations for the popular journal Once a Week. This led to commissions from a wide range of periodicals including Cassell's Magazine, London Society and the Illustrated London News.
An established illustrator by 1870, Allingham became the only female founding member of The Graphic. Gaining a reputation for fine figurative work, in 1874 Allingham illustrated the first publication of Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd. Over 30 years later Hardy would still refer to Allingham as the 'best illustrator I ever had'.