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Slovak Aura

about Marianne Stokes

Although she was probably the most accomplished woman painter after the Impressionists, Marianne Stokes is basically omitted from most accounts of women artists. She mastered a range of styles and media, and painted across many different genres, including her unique record of Slovak and other peoples of Hungary. She studied at the Graz Drawing Academy, before moving to Munich in 1874 to study painting under Gabriel von Hackl, Otto Seitz, and others. She appears to have met Johann Strauss, who dedicated a polka-mazurka, Licht und SchattenLight and Shadow —, to her in 1875.

Born Preindlsberger in 1855, in Graz, Austria, Marianne painted in the countryside and Paris, and, as with many other young painters, fell under the spell of the rustic naturalist Jules Bastien-Lepage. Her style continued to show his influence even when her subject matter changed from rustic to medieval romantic and biblical themes. While in France she met the Finnish painter Helene Schjerfbeck, in whose company she visited Pont-Aven in 1883. Two years later, after her marriage with painter Adrian Stokes, she took to using the name “Mrs. Adrian Stokes”.

Together with her husband, Marianne spent the summers of 1885 and 1886 at Skagen in the far north of Denmark where there was an artists’ colony which became known as the Skagen Painters. There the couple struck up a close friendship with Michael and Anna Ancher. In summer 1885 they also visited Ireland. Having no children, they regularly travelled abroad, frequently to the Tyrol, and in 1905 to Hungary and the High Tatra. Here they spent about half a year sketching and painting in the villages of Važec, Mengusovce and Ždiar. Adrian Stokes concentrated on landscapes, with images of hay-harvesting and picturesque cottages, while Marianne Stokes painted portraits showing the fine detail of the garments. These paintings provide a valuable record of the Slovak culture.

After abandoning oils, and inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Marianne painted flat compositions in tempera and gesso, her paintings giving the impression of being frescoes on plaster surfaces. She was an Associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours. She died in London in August 1927.

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