Sir Samuel Luke Fildes, commonly known as Luke Fildes, wasas an illustrator before turning to portrait painting. He was commissioned by the novelist Charles Dickens to illustrate his last novel ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’, published in 1870. In 1874 Fildes’ large painting of ‘Applicants for Admission to a Casual Ward’, showing the destitute queuing in hope of a night of shelter, brought him overnight fame, when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy, accompanied by a quote from Dickens. Fildes continued to paint social realist subjects, but it was as a portrait painter that he found fame and fortune. His painting of the Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra) of 1894 led to a series of royal commissions.
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