Margaret Sarah Carpenter (1793-1872)
Her earliest training lay in making copies from the collection of Lord Radnor at Longford Castle. In 1814 she moved to London and very swiftly established herself as a highly fashionable portrait painter, supplying 236 works for public exhibition at the Royal Academy, the British Institute and the Society of British Artists between 1814 and 1866. As this portrait demonstrates, her fluid and accomplished manner was most clearly influenced by the work of Sir Thomas Lawrence and she finished his portrait of Mrs Brandling. Our portrait is entirely characteristic of her charming portrayals of young children absorbed in their own pleasures. Her leading points were firmness of touch and brilliancy of colouring, be it in water or in oil colours. She sent pictures to the Society of Arts for three years continuously. She was acknowledged for her talent and industry. She was awarded gold a medal for “Study of Boy’s Head”.
Margaret’s determination and ambitious nature along with her talent helped her acquire a high and admirable position throughout her life. She was married to William Hookham Carpenter in 1817. He was the keeper of prints and drawings in the British Museum. In spite of marriage and several children, her professional output rarely flagged. As a woman, she could not call upon nobility and gentry, but despite that, her account list showed more than 600 clients from all walks of life. Carpenter had to support her poverty-stricken parents and her own family. This meant money was a crucial factor for her.
After the death of her husband in 1866, she received £100 as pension from Queen Victoria. This was due to her husband’s service as well as recognition for her artistic merits. She died on 13th November 1872 in London. She was in her 80s.