This month author Hazel Gower will be talking about her new book on Ellen Sharples – founder of the RWA and driving force behind a remarkble family of artists…
Daughter of a Lancashire blacksmith, Ellen Sharples was a remarkable entrepreneur and artist who made her fortune on both sides of the Atlantic as a portrait painter, with subjects including the first five US presidents. Based in Bath and Bristol, she supported the family financially, educated her daughter Rolinda and trained her to become a painter of contemporary events (Rolinda’s famous painting of a party at the Clifton Assembly Rooms, on show in the Bristol Museum, is familiar to Jane Austen fans worldwide).
Though her life and her legacy are little known, Ellen was a Georgian era pioneer. She created what is still the UK’s only regional Royal Academy of Art, donating her collection and providing funds for the spectacular (now Grade II* listed) RWA building on Whiteladies Road.
In her new book Painted out of History, author Hazel Gower quotes from Ellen’s journal to explore this unusual mother daughter relationship, presenting an inspiring portrait of the pair. Chronicling their passion, commitment and resourcefulness, this is the forgotten story of two women artists and their adventurous lives on both sides of the Atlantic.