Dicksee, Frank (1853-1928; English)
The Crisis 1891
Oil on canvas, 122.4 x 158.1
Purchased, 1891 (advice of Hubert von Herkomer)
National Gallery of Victoria (p.396.2-1)

In this exemplary late Victorian image, “intense feeling” is clearly to the fore, as Herkomer emphasized in recommending it (as quoted in NGV 1894).

Echoes of Rembrandt (particularly his images of his dying wife Saskia) may have informed Dicksee’s work, and this would presumably also have added to Herkomer’s appreciation of this painting. In the same year, Herkomer recommended a group of the Dutch master’s etchings to Melbourne: see now Rembrandt 11 etchings {1891} NGV [ET].

Dicksee became a member of the Royal Academy in the year this work was painted (for further details, refer artist entry).


AR 1891, p.24; SB, p.396 (acquired Oct.1891); NGV 1894, pp.30-31 (I.La Trobe Gallery, no.41; ill.; quoting Herkomer); NGV 1905, p.30 (I.La Trobe Gallery, no.54; ill.) [£1,260] 

For Dicksee’s painting, see also Gott, 19C (2003), p.107

Rembrandt’s wife Saskia, who was often bedridden from 1635 onwards, and died in June 1642 (aged 29), was the subject of many of the artist’s drawings and a few etchings during the period, including a sketch of a woman asleep (possibly Saskia), on the verso of a sheet of studies of c.1635, acquired through the Felton Bequest in 1936 (NGV inv.no.356/4): see Gregory & Zdanowicz Rembrandt (1988), pp.45ff (reproducing several comparative examples). See also Ben Broos in Albert Blankert, Rembrandt: A Genius and his Impact (exh.cat.), NGV, 1997, pp.334 (cat.75: the Melbourne sheet) and 348 (cat.82: a poignant drawing of Saskia near the end of her life [Ashmolean Museum, Oxford])