‘The Lady in White’ is NOT Louisa Wilkinson / Founding of the ‘Society of Women Painters.’

IN A PREVIOUS POST (now deleted to avoid misinformation) I had identified the subject of The Lady in White, a painting known from auction sales, as possibly being Louisa Letita Wilkinson, wife of physician Matthew Wilkinson – my evidence being (1) she had lived near to Annie’s address in Manchester at the time, (2) details of the painting matched a description in a local newspaper, and (3) Louisa’s daughter was known to have owned works by Annie, donating two to Manchester Art Gallery in 1936. Against my theory was that the subject looked too young in the painting, not her actual age of fifty, but I put this down to artistic licence.

I was wrong. Have just come across a reference in another newspaper, The Queen, 15 March 1890, which states that Annie’s portrait of Louise has her in a red dress and holding purple hyacinths and a book, not a bunch of roses, so hypothesis disproved! Thankfully I had not included my ideas on the painting’s web page, as the evidence had not been quite strong enough to be clinching.

CAME ACROSS a nice description of the founding of the Manchester Society of Women Painters, by Annie and Isabel in October 1879 …

MANCHESTER SOCIETY OF FEMALE PAINTERS. A society under this designation has just been established in Manchester, with Miss. S. Isabel Dacre as president, Miss Annie L. Robinson as secretary, and Miss Emily Robinson as treasurer. The object in forming the society, the promoters state, is “firstly, to provide facilities for the members working together and studying from life – there being now no course open for such advantages, except by leaving Manchester; and secondly, to disseminate the principles of true art among art students generally, who are desirous of more thorough training, wider experience, and a higher culture.” Those who are desirous of assisting the committee in carrying out the object thus set forth are invited to communicate with the secretary at 10, Barton House, Deansgate. Several classes have already been formed, the course of instruction including elementary drawing, drawing from the antique, and drawing and painting from the living model.

Manchester Weekly Times and Examiner, Sat O4 Oct, 1879.

Jonathan Russell

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