Dorothea Sharp was a British Impressionist known for her vibrant and spontaneous paintings of children at play in rural landscapes and on the coast. Dorothea Sharp was born in Dartford, Kent, and following an inheritance of £100, from an uncle, began her artistic training at the age of 21. She studied first in Richmond and then at the Regent Street Polytechnic under David Murray and George Clausen. It was following the encouragement of Clausen that she continued her studies in Paris. It was there that she first absorbed the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist appreciation of movement and colour that was to define her style and career. In Paris, she also discovered Claude Monet, whose work, particularly his use of colour and loose handling, had a strong influence on her work.
Sharp exhibited her first painting, Playmates, at the Royal Academy of the Arts in 1901, and until 1948, she exhibited 54 paintings at that venue.
In 1907 she was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists, and in 1922 to the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. She also exhibited at the Paris Salon and across the British Empire. Though Sharp was elected to a number of societies and was indeed prolific, she was most active as a member of the Society of Women Artists. Elected an associate in 1903, she became a full member in 1908, and served as the Vice-President for four years, exhibiting 107 paintings. In 1933, a solo show of her work was held at the Connell Gallery. The exhibition was a great success, and she was described as ‘one of England’s greatest living women painters’ by Harold Dawkins, editor of The Artist.
Sharp never married and travelled widely. Considering she never had her own children, her paintings suggest that she delighted in the spontaneous joys and energies of youth. Throughout her life, she lived in London and Beaconsfield but spent time particularly in St Ives, Cornwall, with her lifelong friend and fellow painter, Marcella Smith, and in 1928 was made an honorary member of the St Ives Society of Artists. She died in London, on 17 December 1955.
Her work is represented in numerous public collections.