Valentine Cameron Prinsep

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Valentine Cameron Prinsep

English artist

Born 1838 - Died 1904

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Valentine Cameron Prinsep
by Paul Ripley

Val Prinsep was the son of an senior Indian Civil Servant, Thoby Prinsep, and his far more extrovert wife, Sara, one of the celebrated Pattle sisters, the most famous of whom was Julia Margaret Cameron 1815-1879, the great pioneering photographer. If any one individual could be described as a Pre-Raphaelite photographer it was she.

Prinsep was brought-up at Little Holland House in London, where his mother kept open house, and the most interesting artistic salon of the day. Habitues included Dickens, Tennyson, Bourne-Jones, Browning, Rossetti, and Carlyle. In the famous words of Sara Prinsep, G F Watts 'came to stay three days; he stayed thirty years.' Here under Watt's influence the young Val Prinsep decided to become a painter. Prinsep was a tall, powerfully built, imposing individual.

He became ARA in 1878, and a full RA in 1894. He was Professor of Painting at the RA from 1901 until his death. He married Florence Leyland, daughter of the industrial magnate and art collector Frederick Leyland, thus becoming extremely wealthy. Prinsep painted genre pictures and portraits. It is widely felt that Prinsep did not achieve his true potential- Watts felt that he just did not work hard enough. His paintings are held to be very uneven in quality. He was, though, an important figure in the Victorian art world.

Source: Victorian Art in Britain.

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March 11th, 1897

Dear Gabe,
You are coming up for electing at the Arts Club next Tuesday and as your proposer I shall have to answer for you as to whether you are ready & willing to take up your election at once. This implies taking a 10 pound share in the company and paying the years subscription. Will you kindly let me have an answer to this question as soon as possible.

Your friend

Val Prinsep

I think I can answer for your election without a doubt.


Image courtesy of Don Kurtz

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Image courtesy of Don Kurtz