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Isabelle de Steiger
""Photo of Isabelle de Steiger.jpg
Born Isabelle Lace
(1836-02-28)February 28, 1836
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Died January 1, 1927(1927-01-01) (aged 90)
Rock Ferry, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Education Heatherley School of Fine Art, Slade School of Fine Art
Known for "Painting, "Theosophy, "Writing
Spouse(s) Rudolf Adolf von Steiger von Riggesberg (m. 1861–1870)

Isabelle de Steiger, née Lace (28 February 1836 – 1 January 1927), was an "English painter, "theosophist, "occultist and writer. She became a member of several "esoteric societies in "London, and was a close friend and co-worker of "Anna Kingsford.



Isabelle Lace was born in "Liverpool, the daughter (and one of seven children) of Joshua Lace, a "solicitor. She was educated first in Liverpool, then in "Stratford-upon-Avon. In 1861, she married a Swiss cotton merchant, Rudolf Adolf von Steiger von Riggesberg. The couple divided their time between England and Switzerland, then settled down, for professional reasons, in Egypt, where her husband died of "Tuberculosis in 1870.[1]

Isabelle de Steiger returned to England in 1874 and studied art, first at the "Heatherley School of Fine Art, then at the "Slade School of Fine Art in London. Having obtained her degree, she began a career as a professional painter, going on to exhibit at various galleries, such as the "Royal Academy in London, and the "Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Her style was strongly influenced by "Lawrence Alma-Tadema and his historical paintings, such as Cleopatra after the Battle of Actium etc. She was also known for her flower painting and book illustrations. She illustrated, for example, the occult magazine The Unknown World (1894-1895), edited by "A. E. Waite.[2] She painted some figures in the Theosphical movement but unfortunately much of her work was destroyed in a fire. She also experienced the prevailing prejudice against women which made it difficult to rent studio space and attend life classes, as well as social obstacles to women having an independent career.[1][3]

In the early 1870s, Steiger was drawn towards "spiritualism and in 1878 joined the "Theosophical Society. She came into contact with "Madame Blavatsky, "Mabel Collins and "Anna Kingsford, the latter being especially esteemed by Steiger and becoming a close friend. Later, after a split within the Theosophical society, she became a member of the Hermetic Society, founded by Kingsford; she was also a member of the "Society for Psychical Research.[3]

Steiger became a friend of the alchemist "Mary Anne Atwood, and her own writings were also strongly influenced by Alchemy; on Atwood's death, in 1910, she successfully republished Atwood's principal work, A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery. She joined the "Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1888, and, after a factional split of the society in 1903, left with A. E. Waite, joining his "Holy Order of the Golden Dawn", despite their disagreements on the subject of Alchemy. She also founded, in 1912, an Alchemical Society. Towards the end of her life she followed the teachings of "Anthroposophy.[1][4]

Steiger wrote several books on mystical subjects, including a translation of "Karl von Eckartshausen's "Cloud upon the Sanctuary", and an autobiography. She also wrote articles which appeared in various journals. She died in "Rock Ferry, "Cheshire in January 1927.["citation needed]


Books by Steiger:

Translated or edited by Steiger:

See also[edit]

English women painters from the early 19th century who exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art


  1. ^ a b c Steiger, Isabelle de, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  2. ^ The Unknown World (Answers.com).
  3. ^ a b Holden, 1983
  4. ^ Pert, Alan. Red Cactus: The Life of Anna Kingsford (Alan Pert, 2006) p. 80..

External links[edit]

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