Theodora Joan Noyes (known as Dora) was born on 8 November 1864 in Harrow, Middlesex. She had two sisters, Mary and Ella Margaret, and their father was a solicitor. The sisters became residents at The Cottage, Upton Lovell, in the early 1900s before moving to Fosters in Sutton Veny at about 1907 where they lived for the remainder of their lives.
Dora’s charming late 19th to early 20th paintings include her best known ‘haymaking on Salisbury Plain’, painted in 1912. She exhibited often at the principal London galleries, with the piece ‘Two at the Style’ exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1894. Her settings included landscapes and portraits, especially of children, and she worked in oil as well as watercolour.
Sometimes travelling with her sister, Dora also illustrated five of Ella’s travel books, the first being ‘Saints of Italy. Legends Retold’, published in 1901 of which modern reprints continue to be produced. ‘The Casentino’ which was produced for the Christmas market in 1905 included 24 of Dora’s line drawings. It was produced as a luxury volume, the publishers feeling the location of the content would continue to be popular with English visitors. Closer to home, Dora received a fee of £25 for her artwork in Ella’s travel book ‘Salisbury Plain’ which included watercolours and which proved to be their final joint publication.
Whilst in Wiltshire, Dora became well known for her lacework, embroidery, weaving and spinning. She was the last surviving of the three, her sisters having died many years earlier, both in 1949. They are buried together in the churchyard at St. John the Evangelist, Sutton Veny.
Salisbury Museum will benefit from the acquisition and are delighted to be able to give a home to the work of such a talented artist; part of a family who fell in love with Wiltshire and, after some years of travelling to foreign parts, became inspired again by home-grown beauty.