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Francesca Alexander
Dates: American, 1837 - 1917
Biographical Account:

Esther Frances Alexander was an American artist and writer who lived in Florence from the age of about 15. She was the daughter of a portrait painter and a wealthy heiress, and though she didn’t receive any art lessons, her father encouraged her to write poems and illustrate them herself.


Alexander was a noted figure in Florentine artistic circles but she spent much of her time teaching, looking after and drawing people from poorer households in around Florence’s countryside. In doing this, she learned many ancient or traditional songs and stories from these farming and artisanal communities. She compiled these songs and her pen-and-ink drawings into a book ‘The Roadside Songs of Tuscany’, which she published in collaboration with John Ruskin whom she had met in 1882. She published several similar books over the following decade, which brought her fame amongst American and British tourists in Florence. She remained friends with Ruskin until his death and it was he who gave her nick-name 'Francesca', which she used in her publications.


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