Date 1874-03-28
Publication Academy
Topic Society of Lady Artists exhibition
AP display
RA display
Subject art
Keywords relative merit
  ↳ imagery
  ↳ "ambisexual" art
Standards poesy
  ↳ imagery
  ↳ rank
  ↳ merit

Annotation details

74 Mar 28 Academy

Rossetti, W M THE SOCIETY OF LADY ARTISTS. The Academy and literature, 1914-1916; Mar 28, 1874; 99; British Periodicals pg. 351


WMR reviews Society of Lady Artists exhibition.


Rossetti approaches the exhibition with ambivalence. Qualitatively, Rossetti finds "not a large share of excellence or progressive power" among the 156 oil and 430 water colour paintings. While on the one hand he states his support for the women artists, but on the other, he says they should exhibit with men if their work is on the same level as the men's work. If not, according to Rossetti, they should face the same risk of obscurity that bad male artists face. He acknowledges that the exhibition under review is the eighteenth of its kind, so the practice of an all-female art exhibition must be of some benefit to a number of people. But he describes the exhibition as "a depressing sight (sic), embarrassing to the male visitant." In the middle between the women artists and the male visitants is "the public eye," the third entity that Rossetti as critic normally considers from the sense of educating and consistently, with a mandate to shelter from the effects of bad artwork.

Rossetti mentions various works and artists with some brief comments that describe and appraise the works. In some, he reinforces the same basic standards that he sets for men: poetic expression, authentic portrayal. Though he states that he accepts the single-gender exhibition as it is, he nonetheless judges the work in universal, "ambisexual" standards.

Also, Rossetti claims that this all-female art exhibition did not attract the best female artists. Among the collection, he finds few that compare to the best of men's paintings, but two he mention show some resemblance to the work of Turner and Whistler. He also notes the high ration of watercolor paintings versus oil paintings in the exhibition.


critical, educational


standards, "ambisexual", authenticity, portrayal, female artists' exhibition

Standards of Judgment:

authenticity, sincerity, poetic expression, universal aesthetic standards


Mrs. Boyle, Mrs. Bodichon, Miss Blanche Macarthur, Miss Fiora Ward, Mrs. Ward, Miss M.E. Edwards (Mrs. Stephens), Miss Solomon, Miss Fanny Southern, Miss Mary S. Tovey, Miss Charlotte J. Weeks, Miss Biller, Miss Emma Sandys, Mr. Frederick Sandys, Ross Mundi, Miss Eliza Sharpe, Miss Elizabeth Thompson, Miss Beatrice Myer, Mr. Broughton, Mrs. Beckhouse, Miss K. Reed, Miss C.J. Atkins, Miss H. Kempe, Miss A.E. Manly, Miss Jane K. Humphrys, Miss Ellen Thornycroft, Miss fanny Duncan, M. Fantin-Latour, Miss Harriet Harrison, Mrs. Bodlichon, Miss Alice Boyd, Mrs. Boyle, Miss Marion Croft, Mrs. Owen, Turner, Miss Louise Raynor, Miss Sarah Linnel, Miss Aurelia Hahnel

Writing technique/tone:

direct, critical, incisive, disappointed


"It must be confessed that the exhibition of this Society . . . is a depressing sight, embarrassing to the male visitant who is at once courteous and critical;" ". . . we could never hesitate to say that the right plan is that women who are good painters should exhibit along with men who are the like, and women who are bad painters should run the same chance of exclusion as men of the similar artistic caliber;" ". . . although better than most things here, it presents nothing worthy of further remark . . ."