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Biography for Louisa Starr Canziani

Nationality:British (English)
Born:1845 - Liverpool
Died:1909

Employment

Louisa Starr attended Heatherley's art school. During this period artistic training was dominated by the Royal Academy Schools, which gave it students a rigorous grounding in life-drawing and painting, presided over by Frederick Leighton and staffed by some of the leading artists of the time. Competition to enter the RA schools was very great, and at 16 Louisa Starr became the youngest student ever to attend, being 1 of 2 students selected out of 38 entrants. That she was a woman is also significant. She signed her work 'L Starr' so that her gender was not apparent, and when her identity became known, was told that it was not permitted by the constitution to admit female students. (Women had attended the RA Schools before but not in any great number and not for some time.) When she asked to see the clause, it could not be found, and they ended up admitting 6 women students, so that they could chaperone each other. She had an outstanding career as a student, winning a Silver medal for the best copy of Murillo's 'Beggars' in 1865 - which was the first medal ever awarded by the RA to a woman, and a Gold medal for the most successful historical painting in 1867. She met her future husband, Enrico Canziani, an Italian cousin, whilst visiting relatives in Italy. Her independent outlook and progressive thinking were somewhat at odds with traditional Italian village life, and Enrico understood and encouraged her work by setting up a studio space and helping to find local models for her to paint. He was a civil engineer, who had built a sugar refinery in Italy and established paper-mills and chemical product factories. They married in Dover in 1882, and her attitude to life and work continued to be assertive and uncompromising. For example, she removed the 'and obey' from the marriage service, and it was decided that she would continue to live and work in England, and Enrico would be the one to move. He settled in England, but as much of his business was in Italy he continued to visit at least three times a year. Estella was born in 1887

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