Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue
Sir (Samuel) Luke Fildes (1843-1927), Illustrator and genre and portrait painter
His early success led to a commission to illustrate what proved the last novel by Charles Dickens, whose death Fildes marked with The Empty Chair (1870). The expressive graphic style of these works influenced the young Van Gogh. Fildes was also known for genre and Venetian subjects.
Fildes described his aim as ‘to paint pictures dealing with my own times, and to treat subjects with which most of us are quite familiar ... the interest of your commonplace subject, and the value of your picture, depends upon the sincerity of your treatment and the strength of your feeling about it’.  On his death he was described as one of the public’s favourite painters, a useful and competent member of the RA, a valued former chair of the Arts Club and a genial and well-loved friend.  Today, Fildes’s social realism is more highly valued than his popular fancy pictures.
Dr Jan Marsh
Footnotesback to top
Referencesback to topDakers 1999
Dakers, C., The Holland Park Circle: Artists and Victorian Society, New Haven and London, 1999.
Davis, J.E., ‘Fildes, Sir (Samuel) Luke (1843–1927)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; online ed. May 2006.
Charles Dickens: An Exhibition to Commemorate the Centenary of His Death, exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1970.
Downey & Downey 1890–94
Downey, W., and D. Downey, The Cabinet Portrait Gallery: Photographs by W. & D. Downey, 5 ser., London, 1890–94.
Fildes, L.V., Luke Fildes, R.A.: A Victorian Painter, London, 1968.
Fox, J., ‘“Traitor Painters”: Artists and Espionage in the First World War 1914–18’, British Art Journal, vol.9, no.3, 2009, pp.62–8.
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Ward, E.A., Recollections of a Savage, London, 1923.