Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine
Still life, post-sexism
Ladies day... Laura Knight stole the show as female artists enjoyed their day in the sun, writes John Vincent.
For centuries, women artists got a raw deal – overshadowed by their male counterparts and often shunned by the art establishment. Social attitudes to middle-class women becoming artists played its part. Married women often took their husbands’ names, leading to mistaken identity and incorrect attribution, while some unscrupulous dealers fuelled the reluctance to accept female artists by substituting them with the names of male painters.
As gender equality slowly increased, Britain is able to boast its fair share of celebrated female artists over the last 100 years – including Staithes Group painter Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970), the first woman to become a full member of the
Royal Academy in 1936, and Yorkshire’s own Dame Barbara Hepworth (19031975).
Others to achieve acclaim include Dorothea Sharp, Dora Carrington, sculptor Dame Elisabeth Frink, Sheila Fell, Gwen John, Joan Eardley, Vanessa Bell, Bridget Riley, Rachael Whiteread, Jenny Saville, Anne Redpath, Helen Bradley, Sophie Ryder and Emily Young, described as “Britain’s greatest living stone sculptor”.
A tribute to the ladies of art came at an innovative Blazing a Trail: Modern British Women Artists sale at Bonhams in London where Laura Knight, who made her name in Staithes before moving to Cornwall, first to Newlyn and then Lamorna, stole the show with a magnificent oil, Sennen Cove, which fetched a whopping £500,250, seven times over mid-estimate. Another of her paintings, Waiting in the Wings, reflecting her interest in ballet, realised £35,250.
Northern favourite Helen Bradley (1900-1979) was also represented, her Uncle Tom’s Funeral Procession,
accompanied by her trademark descriptive words, fetching £50,250, while Hepworth’s painting Three Forms
The 63-lot sale fetched a total of £1.6m with 81 per sent sold and, to give an idea of current favourite 20th century women artists, here are some leading prices. Fisherman by Prunella Clough (19191999), a newly discovered work painted between 1946 and 1951 when she made frequent visits to Southwold, Suffolk, made a double estimate £62,250; and Poet, a stone carving by Emily Young (born 1951), realised £131,500.
Revision of January 10 by Bridget
Riley (born 1931) went for £19,000, the same price as that achieved for Mrs Ody
by Jessica Dismorr (1885-1939). Picking Flowers by Dorothea Sharp (1874-1955) fetched £55,250 and Winter, Cumberland
by Sheila Fell (1931-1979) also £55,250. Decent prices were also achieved for works by Evelyn Dunbar, Vanessa Bell, Gwen John, Sybil Andrews and