top of page

Exhibition of paintings by Edith Emma Martin at the Grange

An exhibition of paintings by artist Edith Emma Martin 1875-1960 are being exhibited at the Grange Gallery in Rottingdean from 3rd-14th August.

The paintings for the exhibition at the Grange Gallery in August 2020 have been in the possession of the Martin family from early in the 20th century. The artist’s love for the Sussex countryside is evident in all her work.

Edith Emma Dunkley was born in Battersea in 1875. Her family moved from London to near the more countrified Wandsworth Common in the 1880s. From an early age Edith sketched, painted portraits and landscapes in watercolour and oil.

After studying drawing, music, and languages at a finishing school in Düsseldorf in 1891/2, Edith visited her brother Ferdinand, a musician, in Albany NY. She stayed there for a year continuing her painting and sketching. In 1896 she married Alfred Stanley Martin; their only child, Laurence, was born in 1900. By 1907, the family had moved to Wallington and, when Laurence went to school, Edith enrolled as a student at Croydon School of Art.

Some of the paintings in this exhibition date from before the Great War but most date from the 1920s when Edith’s work was most prolific. The family divided their time between Wallington (and later Croydon) and Sussex where from 1912 the Martins owned a cottage on the Downs near Lewes. After the Great War they spent many winters at an apartment in Pimlico. Fred, who worked for the silversmiths, H A Atkins, mainly in their head office near Hatton Garden, developed his own talent in metalwork and painting.

Edith’s exhibitions included the Society of Women Artists (1921), the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (1923) and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (1925). Flower miniatures by her were purchased by Queen Mary at the Chelsea Flower Show (1927 & 1928). She exhibited in Paris, and also in Birmingham, Alabama when her brother Ferdinand was resident there.

Edith’s local art group made trips to Bruges and Honfleur. She painted on annual holidays with Fred, travelling by train to Normandy, Brittany, Paris, the Loire valley, Savoy and Provence between 1920 and 1932. Edith would rise early and sketch. Her surviving sketch books of pencil and pen drawings together with her watercolours and oils depict local people engaged in their daily activities.

Her work in England is mainly of London and Sussex. She painted the parks, Thames bridges and sailing barges in both oil and watercolour. In Sussex, she captured, in watercolour, the Downs with the fine cloudscapes together with rural and contemporary farming life.

In the mid-1920s, Edith continued her life drawing classes at Croydon School of Art. She also experimented with embroidery pictures (one was shown at the Royal Academy), block- printing on paper and textiles and pottery.

Her life changed dramatically in March 1934 when Fred died suddenly after a heart attack. The trips abroad ceased and it appears that Edith lost the will to paint. She lived until 1960 leaving her many artworks, framed and unframed, to Laurence. These are now mostly in the possession of her grandchildren. They and two further generations are now pleased to pay tribute to a fine artist and show a selection of her work to a wider world.


bottom of page