Edith Hayllar was the second eldest daughter of the artistic Hayllar family. Edith and her sisters, Jessica, Mary, and Kate, were all talented artists trained by their father, James Hayllar, a highly acclaimed painter known for his genre paintings of Victorian life. Like their father, the four sisters, the most successful of which were Edith and Jessica, painted scenes of day-to-day activities including playing children, boating and tennis parties, and tea gatherings on charming English afternoons.
The Hayllar family lived on the quaint estate of Castle Priory in Wallingford, England from 1875 to 1899. Edith and her sisters were given art classes by their father, learning drawing, painting, modeling, etching, mezzotint, and engraving among other media. The strict Victorian regiment of classes from ten to four each day ensured the girls’ mastery of proportion and perspective. Art aside, the girls enjoyed an active childhood, participating in outdoor sports, gardening, and gathering with their artist neighbors. Edith and Jessica, born two years apart, often set up their easels next to each other and painted from the same model. The girls’ and their father were frequently each other’s subjects, as were the residents and activities of their quiet and picturesque Berkshire village. Edith’s specialty were scenes of relaxation after the day’s sports, painted with photorealist qualities that document upper middle class Victorian life at leisure.
Edith’s first exhibition was at the Royal Society of British Artists in London in 1881, and the following year she exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts. She also showed her works at the Institute of Oil Painters and Dudley Gallery. In fact, every year during the late 1880s and 1890s, Edith, her sisters, and father all had at least one picture each exhibited at the Royal Academy. Upon marrying Reverend Bruce MacKay in 1900, and moving to Sutton Courteney shortly afterwards, Edith ended her art career. Similarly, her sisters and father’s artistic output drastically decreased after moving from Castle Priory, suggesting that the grace and magic of their childhood home was their source of inspiration.
daughter and student of James Hayllar
sister of Jessica Hayllar
sister of Kate Hayllar
sister of Mary Hayllar