Although she considered herself merely an amateur artist, Louisa Anne, Marchioness of Waterford became widely known as a Victorian era self-taught artist whose watercolor images of children and Biblical scenes reflected her dynamic, natural talent.
As the daughter of Sir Charles Stuart, Great Britain’s ambassador to France, and Lady Elizabeth Yorke, Louisa was educated to be an aristocratic lady. During her childhood, she copied drawings with her sister Charlotte, and both children demonstrated inherent talent in art. Although she was born in Paris and returned from 1828 to 1830, she spent most of her youth in England with her family.
In 1835, Louisa was presented at Court and was greatly admired for her beauty. She became acquainted with other artists of the social elite and modeled for painters and sculptors including Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm and Sir Francis Grant. In 1842 she married Henry de la Poer Beresford, the third Marquess of Waterford. They lived together at his estate in Waterford, Ireland, and the couple became renowned for their interest in community welfare. With their financial support, two new churches were erected, a cloth factory was opened, trees were planted, and businesses were maintained in order to help the struggling poor of Waterford during the famine of the 1840s.
Louisa continued sketching and producing watercolor paintings in her available time, and in 1848 published a series of drawings of children in Babes in the Wood
. Although she anticipated criticism for her lack of formal training, her version of Babes in the Wood
became widely popular for its illustrations. When her husband died in 1859 in a hunting accident, Louisa moved to her family estate in Ford, Northumberland where she devoted herself to restoring its traditional beauty. She began corresponding with John Ruskin who encouraged her interest in the Pre-Raphaelite style which aligned with her literary themes and representations of traditional values. Because she had no formal artistic training, she benefited from his critiques of her work. In 1862, Louisa began working on a series of murals for the village school in Ford. Using watercolor on paper stretched on wooden frames, she painted almost life-size scenes of children from the Bible. She continued working on this project until her death in 1891.
Although she exhibited sporadically in amateur and charity shows, Louisa never considered herself a professional artist. Committed to being a proper, aristocratic lady, she devoted her time to managing her family’s estates. The work she produced in what little time she reserved for painting was widely appreciated among her contemporaries and aristocratic friends and acquaintances.
friend of Charlotte Canning
friend of John Ruskin
friend of Sir Edwin Landseer
friend of Dante Gabriel Rosetti
friend of Sir Edward Burne-Jones
friend of George Frederick Watts
friend of Miss Grace Palliseer
Honorary Member, Society of Women Artists, London, England (1887)
Patroness, Society of Women Artists, London, England (1865)
8 Carlton House Terrace, London, England (1910, 1892)
Royal Academy of Arts, London, England (1893)