Lady Dilke, French art historian: photographs

Scope and Content

Photographs and illustrations mounted on card of French 18th century interior decoration, furniture and architecture.

Administrative / Biographical History

Lady Dilke (1840-1904), born Emilia Francis Strong , was an author, art historian and Trade Unionist. As a child she was encouraged to take up cultural pursuits as her father was active in Oxford art circles which saw the family come into contact with important figures in the Victorian art world including John Ruskin and William Holman Hunt.

She moved to London in 1858 and studied for two years at the Government School of Design at South Kensington. She was especially interested in anatomical drawing but was refused access to life drawing classes because she was a woman - instead she took private classes. On completing her studies she returned to Oxford where she married in 1861 her first husband Mark Pattison (1813-1884). Following her marriage she undertook serious scholarship in the fields of French cultural history and art. The marriage was an unhappy one and she spent increasing amounts of time in France where she was able to concentrate on her research interests.

From the mid 1860s she wrote articles and reviews on art for the periodical press and between 1873 and 1883 she was the art editor of 'The Academy'. In 1879 her first book was published ‘The Renaissance of Art in France’ which was well researched. Further important studies of French art followed, the Wallace Collection has all four of her books on French art and architecture. Two of these were given to the library by her family in 1913:

'French painters of the XVIIIth century', London : G. Bell and Sons, 1899.

'French engravers and draughtsman of the XVIIIth century', London : G. Bell and Sons, 1902.

Lady Dilke was also asked to write the preface of the first Wallace Collection Catalogue in 1897, and she wrote the introduction to the following:

Molinier, Émile, 'The Wallace Collection (objets d’art) at Hertford House', London: Goupil & Co.; Paris: Manzi , Joyant & Co., 1903.

In the later years of her life she became involved in the Women’s Trade Union League, becoming its president in 1886. Following the death of Pattison she married again, her second husband being the radical Liberal politician Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke (1843-1911).

Conditions Governing Access

Access restricted until catalogued, contact for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Readers are permitted to use cameras on the purchase of a reprographics permit. The charges are £2 for a daily or £5 for a weekly permit.


No accruals expected.

Related Material

Other papers of Lady Dilke are held at the British Library; London Metropolitan University: Trades Union Congress Library Collections; and the Parliamentary Archives.