Antique miniature portraits of the Tormey-Holder Collection

 

 


Core Holdings of the Tormey-Holder Collection: Edith Margaret Cannon

 

 

Portrait miniature by Edith Margaret Cannon, depicting a turn of the century English débutante wearing a décolleté dress of blue tulle


Turn of the Century English Débutante
Wearing a Décolleté Dress of Blue Tulle

English
dated 1900
by Edith Margaret Cannon (1856-1937)
(signed E. M. Cannon)

2 3/4 x 3 1/2 inches

watercolor on ivory; housed in a gilt metal pendant frame

 

About the Artist: Born in 1856, in Bolton, Lancashire (about 10 miles northwest of Manchester), Edith Margaret Cannon was the eldest of eight children born to John Cannon (1819-before 1891) and Ellen Badger (1834-1879). During her childhood, her father was a master cotton spinner. Working in partnership with his own father, William Cannon (1782-1867), he managed over 250 employees in their large, family-owned mill. (At the time, Bolton was a textile boomtown, one of the most active textile producing centers of of the world in the nineteenth century.) Upon the death of Edith's grandfather in 1867, the family cotton mill was sold and her father lived a life of independent means thereafter, serving as a gentleman justice of the peace. Edith's mother, Ellen, died in 1879. Shortly thereafter, her father remarried, marrying Georgiana Powell Francis, 25 years his junior, a family employee who had served for several years as governess of the Cannons' youngest children. Considering the young age of Edith's new step mother, one could easily imagine a strained relationship between the two, but they had long prior formed a close bond and seemed, in many respects, like sisters. By the year 1881, the family had relocated to Ealing, in West London, residing at 7 Windsor Road. Also that year, at the age of 25, Edith was identified for the first time as an artist by profession, appearing as such in the 1881 England Census. Research has not revealed, however, details of her prior education and artistic training. It was not until 1892, at the age of 36, that Edith first exhibited her work. Her father had by then died, and Edith continued to live in Ealing with her step-mother and younger siblings. For the next 12 years, until 1904, Edith continued to exhibit at both the Royal Academy of Arts and the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers (a/k/a the Royal Miniature Society). Her stepmother, Georgiana, died in 1905, at which point Edith ceased exhibiting her work. Having herself never married, Edith continued to reside in London for the remainder of her life. She died in 1937, at the age of 81, while on holiday at the seaside town of Hove, on the south coast of England. In addition to painting miniature portraits in watercolor on ivory, Miss Cannon is known to have also painted full-sized portraits in oil on canvas. One such portrait that has recently come to auction bears the signature, "E. M. Cannon, Roma 1893", indicating that the artist had visited or perhaps even studied briefly in Rome. Listed by Arturi Phillips (page 41), Blättel (pages 200, 201), and Foskett (page 505).*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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