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Female Artists of the Victorian Era: Emma Sandys


Despite all the recent research, a very little is known of the life of Emma Sandys. A 19th century English Pre-Raphaelite artist and figure who sustained a successful career as an artist in the reign of Queen Victoria. It is believed that Emma was influenced by her brother Frederick Sandys, an associated artist of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, and his friend Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Emma Sandys was born in Norwich and had received her early lessens in drawing and painting from her father Anthony Sands who was a dyer and an artist himself. It was around 1853, the family put a “y” to their surname.

The medievalism in Emma Sandys paintings clearly exhibits the Pre-Raphaelite influences upon them. Her works were mainly portraits in both oil and chalk and most of them are seen to be gazing thoughtfully out of the frame enclosed in their own world. Sandys works are engrossing but we know so little of her that many of her paintings were previously considered as the work of her brother. Only recent researches have denoted them as the work of her. Her earliest dated work is believed to be from about 1863 and she exhibited her paintings between 1867 and 1874 in London and Norwich.

Sandys was a fascinating artist. Some of her remarkable works include: A Lady Holding a Rose (Birmingham Museums Trust), Viola (Walker Art Gallery), Pleasant Dreams (University of Dundee Fine Art Collections), La belle jaune giroflée (Ferens Art Gallery), Study of a Head (Norfolk Museums Service), Elaine (National Trust, Wightwick Manor). But we are yet to know and discover a lot about her life and her work.



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