Henrietta Rae
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Henrietta Rae was born in Hammersmith on December 30 1859. She had three sisters and three brothers. Her father was a civil servant; her mother was a musical artist. Her mother (being a musician) wanted her to study music, but instead, she studied art at the Queen Square School of art in Bloomsbury. She also studied at Heatherley’s school of art and Newman Street (here she was the first student to attend night classes).
She attempted to get into the Royal Academy five times. After that fifth attempt she finally succeeded in 1877. In 1881, she exhibited her first painting at the Royal Academy. In 1884 she married Ernest Normand (1857-1923). He was also a well known painter. The two of them made their home in Holland Park, Kensington. This was close to Henrietta’s close mentor and friend Sir Fredric Leighton.
The couple had two children. In 1886, their son was born, in 1893, their daughter. Henrietta painted many nudes. They were innocent nudes by today’s standards, but back then, some people were against it. She received a letter asking her to stop painting the sinful nudes. Their doctor told them to contact the writer and tell him/her that their son came into the world nude. Later, the Normands went to Paris to study. Henrietta attended
In 1894, she once again exhibited in the Royal Academy. The painting shown was Psyche Before the Throne of Venus. This was a large painting, created through much hard work. This was supposed to establish her as a leading artist, though her critics dismissed it as a serious piece of artwork.
Though she was severely disappointed, and her ambitions were reduced, she still continued to paint. Her work was treated with respect in the Royal Academy. She also won a few medals from the World Fair in Chicago and in Paris. Her husband died in 1923, and she died five years later, on the sixth of January.
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