Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Emilia Francis (née Strong), Lady Dilke (1840-1904), Art historian and trade unionist; former wife of Mark Pattison and second wife of Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke, 2nd Bt

Art historian and critic; born Emily Francis Strong, 2 September 1840 in Ilfracombe, Devon. Brought up in Oxford, where she met John Ruskin and members of the Pre-Raphaelite school; studied at National Art Training School, South Kensington and with William Mulready; married Mark Pattison, rector of Lincoln College, Oxford 1861; became scholar of French art and culture, then art editor of The Academy 1873–83; publications include The Renaissance of Art in France (1879), Claude Lorrain, sa vie et ses oeuvres (1884) and four volumes on painters, sculptors, engravers, architects and draughtsmen in eighteenth-century France (1899–1902); special interests included the role of women as both artistic producers and subjects; married politician Sir Charles Dilke 1885, henceforth writing under the name Emilia Dilke and extending her interests to social reform and trade union affairs concerning women workers; died 24 October 1904, in Surrey.

Seen in her twenties, her appearance resembled a painting by Greuze or Perroneau: ‘the pale pretty head blonde cendrée; the delicate smiling features and white throat, a touch of black, a touch of blue, a general 18th century impression as though of powder and patches’. [1]

Her personality was striking; according to Richard Jebb, she was ‘difficult to describe – she is very clever, she has tenderness; great courage; and an exquisite sense of humour. In manner she is inclined to be brusque, though … she never fails in perfect taste; she is joyous and affects a certain specially Oxford type of feminine fastness – she talks of art and books and philosophies…’ [2]

To Beatrice Potter Webb, she was ‘a brilliant woman with strong sense, great industry and capacity for manipulation’ but ‘coarse to the backbone: a born intriguer, with an unswerving faith in “cleverness”; an utter cynic as to “righteousness”’. [3] According to her niece Gertrude Tuckwell, however, ‘the same high courage, the same capacity for tireless work, the same sense of public duty’ characterized Emilia and her husband.

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) Ward 1918, p.109–10.
2) Quoted Israel 1999, p.171.
3) Mackenzie & Mackenzie 1982–5, vol.1, p.294.


Referencesback to top

Askwith 1969
Askwith, B., Lady Dilke: A Biography, London, 1969.

Baldry 1901
Baldry, A.L., Hubert von Herkomer: A Study and a Biography, London, 1901.

Clarke 2005
Clarke M. E., Critical Voices: Women and Art Criticism in Britain, 1880-1905, Aldershot, 2005.

Courtney 1892
Courtney, W.L., ‘Professor Hubert Herkomer ... His Life and Work’, The Art Annual for 1892 (Art Journal Christmas number), 1892.

Denney 2009
Denney, C., Women, Portraiture and the Crisis of Identity in Victorian England: My Lady Scandalous Reconsidered, Farnham, 2009.

Dilke 1905
Dilke, E.F.S., The Book of the Spiritual Life … with a memoir of the author by the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke, London, 1905.

Downey & Downey 1890–94
Downey, W., and D. Downey, The Cabinet Portrait Gallery: Photographs by W. & D. Downey, 5 ser., London, 1890–94.

Fraser 2004
Fraser, H., ‘Dilke, Emilia Francis, Lady (1840–1904)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; online ed., January 2008.

Gwynn & Tuckwell 1917
Gwynn, S., and G.M. Tuckwell, The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke, 2 vols, London, 1917.

Israel 1999
Israel, K., Names and Stories: Emilia Dilke and Victorian Culture, New York and Oxford, 1999.

Mackenzie & Mackenzie 1982–5
Mackenzie, N., and J. Mackenzie, eds, The Diary of Beatrice Webb, 4 vols, London, 1982–5.

Mills 1923
Mills, J.S., Life and Letters of Sir Hubert Herkomer CVO, RA: A Study in Struggle and Success, London, 1923.

Nicholls 1995
Nicholls, D., The Lost Prime Minister: A Life of Sir Charles Dilke, London, 1995.

NPG CIC 2004
Saywell, D., and J. Simon, National Portrait Gallery: Complete Illustrated Catalogue, NPG, London, 2004 (first edition 1981).

Pietsch 1901
Pietsch, L., ‘Herkomer’ in series Kunstler-Mongraphien, ed. H. Knackfuss, Bielefeld and Leipzig, 1901.

Ribeiro 2000
Ribeiro, A., The Gallery of Fashion, London, 2000.

Trevelyan 1978
Trevelyan, R., A Pre-Raphaelite Circle, London, 1978.

Trevelyan 1994
Trevelyan, R., Wallington, National Trust, 1994.

Ward 1918
Ward, M., A Writer’s Recollections, London, 1918.

Dr Jan Marsh