Valentine Cameron Prinsep was born in Calcutta in 1838 on St Valentine’s Day, was educated at Eton and in 1858 he worked with Rosetti in Oxford. He bought beachland and a house “Santa Claus” in Pevensey in 1879 – (the house is now called White Lodge) and he had a studio at the rear of the house – which has been extended to become this wonderful home. He and his wife bought many cottages in the area and also 90 acres of marshlands – eventually owning most of the marshland and beachland in Wallsend Pevensey Bay.
Born 14 February 1838 – Calcutta, India
Died 11 November 1904 (aged 66) – London
Known for oil painting
Spouse(s) Florence Leyland
Valentine Cameron Prinsep was a British painter of the Pre-Raphaelite school.
Born in Calcutta, India, he was the second child of Henry Thoby Prinsep, a civil servant of the British Raj, and his wife Sarah Monckton Pattle, daughter of James Pattle. His mother was a sister of the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and Maria Jackson (née Pattle), grandmother of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.
Henry and Sarah Prinsep returned to England in 1843. They settled in 1851 at Little Holland House, and made it a centre of artistic society.
Studies, travel, painter
Portrait of Prinsep by Alphonse Legros, British Museum
Henry Thoby Prinsep was a friend of the painter George Frederic Watts, under whom his son first studied, and travelled with Watts in 1856–57 to Sir Charles Thomas Newton’s excavation of Halicarnassus. He then went to Charles Gleyre’s atelier in Paris. There James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Edward Poynter, and George du Maurier were among his fellow students, and he was later the original for Taffy in Du Maurier’s novel Trilby. After Paris, Prinsep passed to Italy. With Edward Burne-Jones he visited Siena and there made the acquaintance of Robert Browning, of whom he saw much in Rome during the winter of 1859–60.
Prinsep was a close friend of John Everett Millais, and of Burne-Jones, with whom he travelled further in Italy. He had a share with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and others in the decoration of the hall of the Oxford Union. With other members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, he taught at the Working Men’s College during the mid-19th century. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1862 with his Bianca Capella, his first picture, which attracted notice as a portrait (1866) of General Gordon in Chinese costume. Prinsep lent the costume to Millais who used it in his own painting Esther.
From 1862 to his death Prinsep was an annual exhibitor at the Royal Academy. He was elected A.R.A. in 1879 and R.A. in 1894. His marriage in 1884 made Prinsep a wealthy man, and he became a company director and landowner.
Death and monument
Monument in Brompton Cemetery, London
Prinsep died at Holland Park, west London in 1904, and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London He was buried with his wife Florence. The distinctive Roman style monument lies on the western path between the north entrance and the central buildings. He was an enthusiastic volunteer, and one of the founders of the Artists Rifles.
Prinsep’s major paintings were Miriam watching the infant Moses (exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1867), A Venetian lover (1868), Bacchus and Ariadne (1869), News from abroad (1871), The linen gatherers (1876), The gleaners, and A minuet.
In 1877, Prinsep returned to India and painted a huge picture of the Delhi Durbar. It was a commission from Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton, the Viceroy of India. It was exhibited in 1880 at the Royal Academy, presented to Queen Victoria and afterwards hung at Buckingham Palace. This “colossal work” attracted press comment, positive and negative. Later exhibits were À Versailles, The Emperor Theophilus chooses his Wife, The Broken Idol and The Goose Girl.
Prinsep wrote two plays, Cousin Dick and Monsieur le Duc, produced at the Royal Court Theatre and the St James’s Theatre theatres respectively; two novels; and Imperial India: an Artist’s Journal (1879).
Prinsep, 1883 by Frank Dudman
Prinsep married in 1884 Florence, daughter of Frederick Richards Leyland of Wootten Hall, Liverpool. She survived him with three sons. Of those sons, Anthony Leyland Val Prinsep (1888–1942) married in 1911 Marie Lohr, and managed the Globe Theatre in London with her from 1911 to 1928, when they divorced. He then married Margaret Bannerman. The other sons were Thoby and Nicholas. Nicholas John Andrew Leyland Prinsep (born 1894) married in 1930 Anita Elson.