ESTHER FAITHFULL FLEET
St. Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana
(fl. 4th century).
Te Deum laudamus. Illuminated by Esther Faithfull Fleet.
London: Emily Faithfull at the Victoria Press, 1868.
Esther Faithfull Fleet (1823–1908) of Headley Rectory in Surrey, England, was both a gifted book illustrator and the mother of seven children, including John Faithfull Fleet, a noted historian and Indologist; George Rutland Fleet, a successful actor; and Herbert Cecil Fleet, a Vice-Admiral. Her younger sister, Emily Faithfull (1835–1895), was an important social activist, organizer of women’s labor, founder of the Victoria Press, and printer and publisher to Queen Victoria.
Te Deum laudamus, published by Emily Faithfull with twenty-one chromolithographic plates designed by Esther Faithfull Fleet, catered to the Victorian taste for beautifully decorated books. Each plate in this devotional book features one verse of the hymn Te Deum laudamus inside a panel printed in imitation of medieval manuscript illumination. The artist also provided brief captions for each illustration at the end of the book. Regarding the exhibited verse, which highlights the feminine role in Christian salvation, she wrote: “The blue and white of this plate are the well-known colours of the Virgin; the lily is the emblem of the Incarnation, and the doves refer to the offering in the temple at the time of the Purification (Luke ii. 24).”