Friday, December 18, 2009

A Revelation of Regency Women Artists II

As I researched Regency female artists last week, it became obvious that there were many, many talented non-professional artists. As I noted in that previous blog, sketching, drawing and watercolours were considered 'accomplishments' of a lady. But at the same time artistic talent was encouraged, it was also devalued as a mere amusement of the fair sex.

Nevertheless some of the ladies of fashion produced work of skill and merit, and were recognized for their ability.

Lady Gordon (nee Julia Isabella Levina Bennet) was one of J. M. W. Turner's pupil, and also studied with Thomas Girtin. Her picture, Cottage at Wigmore, Kent was painted 1803 and displays a confident hand. It can be viewed at the Tate Gallery website.

Lady Wharncliffe ( nee Lady Caroline Mary Elizabeth Creighton) was likewise a more-than-competent 'amateur'. I can find no other information on her life, but the Tate Gallery does hold some pieces of her work. Her untitled picture held at the Tate Gallery shows a typical Regency emphasis on trees and sky, probably due to the influence of Constable and Turner.

All that I can discover about Lady Susan Elizabeth Percy are the dates of her life: 1782-1847. The Tate Gallery has several examples of her drawing however, sketched in both Britain and on the continent. They are here.

The Duchess of Sutherland, Elizabeth Leveson-Gower, who succeeded by Scottish law to her father's titles, was known for her involvement in the Highland Clearances. She was also however a splendid artist. The Tate Gallery has only one of her watercolours, Mountain Landscape.

The works of Amelia Long, Lady Farnborough, are available for viewing online at several places: Courtauld Institute of Art, Tate Gallery, The Huntington Library, and Victoria and Albert Museum . She was competent and prolific, the daughter of an amateur artist and, like Lady Gordon, a pupil of Thomas Girtin and also of Henry Edridge.

It frustrates me no end that so little information is available online about these artists. I am sure there are brief mentions in some books, but I think they deserve their own study. Would that I had the time and the resources to write that book!

We must not forget, before we leave the female artists of the Regency, those women who--in the absence of photography--recorded their day to day life in sketches. They have left an invaluable, and charming, record of Regency life. One such was Diana Sperling, and thankfully, there is a book devoted to her Regency world "Mrs. Hurst Dancing and other scenes from Regency Life" from Gollancz Publishers. If you haven't seen this book, I strongly urge you to look it up.

I am still looking for books on female artists of the late 18th and early 19th century. Please let me know if you are aware of any!

'Til next time,


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