The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Henry Stacy Marks, 1829-1898

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1829.09.13
Place of Birth: Great Portland Street South, London
Date of Death: 1898.01.09
Place of Death: St Edmund's Terrace, Primrose Hill, London


Henry Stacy Marks was a history, genre and animal painter, watercolourist, illustrator and designer. He was the youngest of the four children of the solicitor and coach builder Isaac Daniel Marks. In 1856 he married Helen Drysdale. His second wife was May Harriet Hope, whom he married in 1893.


Marks studied under James Mathews Leigh, at the Royal Academy Schools, in Paris under François-Edouard Picot and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In 1853 he made his début at the Royal Academy with Dogberry, a work which showed the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites. He was close friends with Philip Hermogenes Calderon, Val Prinsep, Walter William Ouless, George Adolphus Storey and Alfred Parsons. Charles Edward Mudie became an important patron.

From 1861 to 1862 he wrote for the Spectator under the pseudonym 'Drypoint'. In the 1860s he was involved in painting furniture for the Gothic Revivalist architect William Burges. He was also employed by the stained glass designers Clayton & Bell and was responsible for the design of the proscenium for the Gaiety Theatre, London. In the 1870s he turned primarily to painting animals and birds, meriting the praise of John Ruskin. He was a principal figure in the St John's Wood Clique.

Marks exhibited annually at the R.A. until 1897. He was elected an associate of the R.A. in 1871, becoming a full member in 1878. In 1883 he was elected a member of the Royal Water Colour Society. He was also a member of The Arts Club from 1871 to 1896. His address at the date of his nomination on 11 February 1871 was 15 Hamilton Place, St John's Wood. Before this, from 1862 to 1869 he lived at Camden Villa, Hill Road. From 1871 to 1895 he was resident at 15 Hamilton Terrace. From 1896 to 1897 his address was 5 St Edmund's Terrace, Regent's Park.

In 1878 Marks backed Ruskin's case in the Whistler v. Ruskin libel trial. According to JW, Marks was 'prepared to stand up and say that he could paint a Whistler Nocturne in five minutes in Court!!' (#00322). By the 1890s however, the two men were on better terms. Both men exhibited at the 21st Autumn Exhibition of Pictures, Corporation of Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1891. They were also both parodied in Du Maurier's Trilby, published in Harper's Monthly Magazine in 1894, Marks appearing as 'Macey Sparks'. Marks followed JW's example at the Beefsteak Club, demanding Du Maurier's resignation from the Arts Club of which they were both members (#04017).

Marks was the author of Pen and Pencil Sketches (2 vols; 1894). His portrait was painted by Ouless, Calderon and Hubert von Herkomer.


E. R., 'Henry Stacy Marks', 1901, Dictionary of National Biography Online, Oxford, 1997 (accessed 24 March 2004); Walkley, Giles, Artists' houses in London 1764-1914, Aldershot, 1994; McEvansoneya, Philip, 'Henry Stacy Marks', Grove Dictionary of Art Online, Oxford, 2003, (accessed 19 March 2004) ; Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, on-line edition (accessed 2004).