Victorian Female Artists

2157 words 9 pages
The Victorian period was an era of constantly shifting and contradicting ideologies concerning women, which extended over many areas of society and culture including politics and the media, the family and domestic field as well as the contemporary and traditional beliefs within the art institutions. The body of the belief systems about women and the feminine ideal that are present in each of these areas involve a combination of established or traditional ideas versus those of a contemporary and revolutionary nature. Whether traditional or revolutionary these evolving ideologies played a consistent and prominent role in regulating the methods by which women produced their art and the subject areas and genres in which they employed …show more content…

When Mary Harrison nee Rossiter's (1788 – 1875) husband ran into financial difficulty she began to sell her paintings as means of helping to support her family. Unsurprisingly the subject matter she chose was flower painting which would have been a practical and attainable still life subject for her to work on but also would have been readily accepted by the Victorian buyer as a fashionable, contemporary piece to be enjoyed. Furthermore, it is significant to note that her main choice of medium was watercolour, as this relates to the idea that watercolour was thought by the conventional mind to be cleaner and easier to manipulate than oil and therefore seems to correspond with dainty and elegant Victorian female persona. Another pair of female artists that illustrate the praise concerning the conformity of women towards these ideologies by the critics of the time, yet also create an example of the changing contemporary views of women artists are the sisters Martha and Annie Mutrie. The flower paintings produced by the sisters were described as neither miniature nor unusually large for the genre which seems to express the notions that women were guided towards smaller canvases to work on because they would be more convenient or indeed manageable for the female artist who was still thought to have limited capabilities. Also, considering the shifting artistic ideologies of the Victorian period and the fact that the sisters were praised for their


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