VISITED the ‘Spotlights: Annie Swynnerton‘ exhibition at the Tate Britain, London. It was especially pleasing to see the two Elizabeth Williamson works side by side. As is often the case, the works have more life to them in reality than is ever apparent on a computer screen or as a print.
Noted that the oil sketch of Elizabeth’s head has been reframed since its acquisition by the gallery in 2013, revealing slightly more of the canvas.
Portrait of Elizabeth Williamson, 2013 and 2022 frames.
The works by Annie on display, clockwise around the room, are:
- New-risen Hope (Tate).
- The Convalescent.
- Portrait of Geoffrey and Christopher Herringham.
- Equestrian Portrait of Elizabeth Williamson.
- Portrait of Elizabeth Williamson.
- Portrait of Dame Millicent Fawcett.
- Portrait of S. Isabel Dacre.
- Portrait of Count Zubov.
In addition, the following works are displayed:
- John Singer Sargent: Val d’Aosta – John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was a key admirer of Annie and her work, buying her Oreads for the national collection in 1922. He is largely remembered as portrait artist today, which was undoubtedly his forte, but who had other artistic interests including landscapes and urban studies. His work is rooted in classical realism, but with leanings towards impressionism, graphic art and even Turner-like compositions. In this sense he has a similarity to Annie, never falling into one particular artistic camp. Unlike Annie, his body of work, while technically impressive, doesn’t appear to have a consistent theme or style, although it deserves better appraisal than there is scope for here.
- Gillian Wearing: Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett (sculpture) – a maquette for the statue of Millicent Fawcett now standing in Parliament Square, London.
- Mary Lowndes: banner celebrating Mary Moser R.A. – Mary Moser (1744-1819) was one of the two female founding members of the Royal Academy of Art, and held up as a role model by suffrage campaigners. Mary Lowndes (1856-1929), who created this banner, was by profession a stained glass artist. She became an active supporter of the suffrage movement and wrote a guide on banner making, emphasising the importance of bold colours and design.
Works by Annie’s looser circle of acquaintances currently on display elsewhere in the gallery include two pieces by Sylvia Pankhurst, On a pot bank and An old-fashioned pottery turning jasper ware (both 1907), Anna Lea Merritt’s Love Locked Out (1890), and Henrietta Rae‘s Psyche Before the Throne of Venus (1894).
Jonathan Russell, 19 Nov 2022.