Historic women painters in ground-breaking London show

Written on 11 June 2019 by Giles Cook in London


A new exhibition in London’s Connaught Street will showcase the art of three 17th century women painters.

Historic women painters in ground-breaking London show

Working during the turbulent years of the English Civil War and Restoration, Mary Beale, Joan Carlisle and Anne Killigrew demonstrated skills equal to male painters of the era. But within a few years of their deaths, each had been forgotten and their unsigned works attributed to men.

Entitled Bright Souls: The Forgotten Story of Britain’s First Female Artists, this pioneering exhibition gives them the recognition they deserve. You can see it at the Lyon & Turnbull gallery, 22 Connaught Street, W2 2AF. It runs from 24 June to 6 July.

The exhibition was curated by art historian, Dr Bendor Grosvenor, who said: “It’s such a shame these artists have been largely ignored, not least because they were so good. For too long, our view of British art in the 17th century has been dominated by male artists – it’s time to change that misconception.

“It was brief period after the Civil War and Restoration when society was being shaken up and these women took advantage of that. But art history quickly forgot they existed.”

The three artists brought a fresh perspective to the painting scene. Mary Beale, who provided for her family by working as a portrait painter, was one of the first artists to encourage her sitters to smile. An early feminist, she was also an author, writing that the ideal marriage was a partnership of equals.

Anne Killigrew painted subjects including King James II and was well known in her day – the Poet Laureate, John Dryden wrote about her. Sadly, Killigrew died of smallpox aged 25 and, like the others, her fame died with her.

“They were no better and no worse than their male counterparts,” said Dr Grosvenor. “But they were certainly different. It is quite extraordinary that until now nobody has exhibited them together in this way.”

Read more about this story in The Telegraph.

Picture from – https://www.lyonandturnbull.com/news-article/bright-souls

Giles Cook

Giles recently joined Best Gapp in 2017 as Partner Designate and Head of Residential Agency, bringing over 20 years’ experience to the firm. Following a three-year stint as an Area Director for Foxtons, he went on to head up Chestertons’ sales and lettings operations in central London, before becoming a Partner at top Knightsbridge boutique WA Ellis.

All articles by Giles Cook

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