IRONSIDE, Adelaide Eliza (1831-1867)

IRONSIDE, Adelaide Eliza (1831-1867)
was born in Sydney on 17 November 1831. From a child she showed literary ability, contributing to the press both in prose and verse. In 1855 she decided to study painting in Europe, and towards the end of that year went with her mother to London. She had a letter of introduction to Sir James Clark, through whom she met Ruskin who showed much interest in her work. From London she went to Rome and remained there for the rest of her life. In 1862 she was represented in the New South Wales court of the London exhibition, and her two pictures received good notices from the critics. In Rome she had an excellent reputation as a painter, at the time of her death a fellow artist spoke of her flowers "painted as never were flowers painted before . . . her rich Titian-like colouring united to a purity of feeling that recalled the visions of Beato Angelico". She sold paintings to among others the Prince of Wales and W. C. Wentworth (q.v.), but she was of a delicate constitution and died at Rome at the age of 35 on 15 April 1867. Good as her reputation was in Rome she was soon forgotten in her native country, and no specimen of her work is in any of its national galleries. Three of her pictures, "The Pilgrim of Art", "The Marriage in Cana", and "The Presentation of the Magi" were sent to Australia and lent to the national gallery at Sydney, where Francis Adams (q.v.) found them about 1888 stored "in a sort of shed" as there was "not room enough in the gallery". Adams praised them highly, and suggested that room might be found in the Melbourne gallery by taking out three by Folingsby (q.v.), and putting Miss Ironside's pictures in their place. They eventually found a home in the dining hall of St Paul's College, Sydney university.
J. H, Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates; W. Moore, The Story of Australian Art; The Athenaeum, 11 May 1867; F. W. L. Adams, Australian Essays, pp. 58-9; Sir William Dixson, Journal and Proceedings Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. VII, p. 159.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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