Biography: Winifred Sandys was the oldest of the five daughters of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Frederick Sandys and his partner and model, Mary Emma Jones. Like her sisters Ruth, Mildred Gertrude (Girlie), and Constance, she often posed as a model for her father, exclusively in his later work. She and her sisters were considered great beauties: a pencil drawing of Winifred, dating from 1896 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), reveals a young woman with luxuriant cascading hair of stunning and exotic beauty. And yet her younger sister, Gertrude, was considered the beauty of the family. In 1913, against the wishes of her parents, Gertrude married Lionel Francis Crane, the son of the artist Walter Crane. Upon Gertrude's death in 1920, Winifred took charge in raising the couple's son, Anthony, and married the widowed father a year later.
All the daughters seem to have had some artistic talent. Winifred excelled at miniature painting, often re-creating her father's large-scale works in this diminutive form. After his death she took up a correspondence with Samuel Bancroft, who became a significant patron of her work and supporter of her family. In addition to being a painter, Winifred seems to have been a poet: her poem "Daffodils" is inscribed on one of her father's paintings, dated about 1895. Sandys's biographer Betty Elzea records that Winifred's father was quite proud of his daughter's literary talents.
Few additional details are available regarding the life of Winifred Sandys, who died in 1944. A snapshot of her personality comes through in her letters to Samuel Bancroft (now in the Samuel Bancroft Jr. Manuscript Collection, Delaware Art Museum) in which she is simultaneously humble and playful, tentatively sending examples of her work across the ocean for approval, while humoring Bancroft's inexhaustible desire for ephemera relating to her father.
Wildman, Stephen, "Waking Dreams: The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites from the Delaware Art Museum" (Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 2004)