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John Da Costa

(British, 1867-1931)

Portrait of Emilia Frances, Lady Dilke

Celebrated Author, Art Historian & Editor, Women's Rights Activist & Founder of the Women's Trade Union League

dated 1895



signed 'da Costa 95' upper right

Oil on Canvas

33 inches by 24 inches (39 inches by 30 inches framed)

In a truly outstanding period carved and giltwood frame

Exhibition history:

Exhibited at John da Costa: A Memorial Exhibition (1974), The Collection of Mrs Elisabeth M Richard, Leighton House , no.1.

Formerly on exhibition in the Collection of the Chelsea Public Library


Emilia Frances, Lady Dilke (Paris, France)

Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke, 2nd Baronet, PC

Bequeathed to Miss Gertrude Tuckwell, J.P. (suffragette, niece of Lady Dilke, and first female J.P. of London); Miss Gertrude Tuckwell was a Union Leader & Womens Rights Activist, and the first female JP of London

Gifted to Chelsea Public Library Collection (gifted by Miss Gertrude Tuckwell 1919-20) 

Collection of Mrs. Elizabeth M. Richards.


This masterpiece of late 19th century impressionist portraiture was commissioned in Paris by the sitter, Lady Emilia Dilke, a widely renowned art historian, connoisseur, author, labour organizer and suffragist.  As a truly immortalized Victorian character, Lady Dilke's intellectual and political career profoundly influenced Victorian society, and she gained celebrity status through George Eliot's "Middlemarch" in which heroine Dorothea Casaubon was modelled after Dilke.World renowned for her progressive work on French art, Dilke spent a large part of her life in Paris, where this work was painted.  She was considered the preeminent British authority on French art, and is still admired as one of the earliest widely recognized female art connoisseurs.

John da Costa (1867-1931) was born in Teignmouth, England and recognized as an artist of great potential early in his career by Frederick, Lord Leighton.  He received awards at the Paris Salon of 1906 and 1907, and he was a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.  In 1974, a memorial exhibition was dedicated to John da Costa of paintings from the collection of Mrs. Elizabeth M. Richards at Leighton House, London, in which this portrait was a featured exhibit.

John Da Costa (British, 1867-1931) ​ Portrait of Emilia Frances Lady Dilke, 1895

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