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Genteel Mavericks

Professional Women Sculptors in Victorian Britain


Shannon Hunter Hurtado

Sculpture was no occupation for a lady in Victorian Britain. Yet between 1837 and 1901 the number of professional female sculptors increased sixteen-fold. The four principal women sculptors of that era are the focus of this book. Once known for successful careers marked by commissions from the royal family, public bodies and private individuals, they are forgotten now. This book brings them back to light, addressing who they were, how they negotiated middle-class expectations and what kind of impact they had on changing gender roles.
Based on their unpublished letters, papers and diaries coupled with contemporary portrayals of female sculptors by novelists, critics, essayists and colleagues, this is an unprecedented picture of the women sculptors’ personal experience of preparing for and conducting careers as well as the public’s perception of them. The author examines each woman’s ability to use her position within the historical and cultural context as a platform from which to instigate change. The analytical emphasis throughout is on the art of negotiation and the result is an interdisciplinary work that delves deeply into the experience of an undervalued cohort of artists who had a disproportionate influence on Victorian social norms.


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Acknowledgements xv


ii Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery; Dunfermline Carnegie Library staf f; Philip Hunt, National Galleries of Scotland; Joanna Soden and Sandy Wood, Royal Scottish Academy; Monika Duda, Guildhall Art Gallery; Chris Sutherns, British Museum Images; Steven McNeil and Kenn Bingley, Of ficial Residences of Canada; Jennifer Camilleri, Royal Academy of Arts; Elizabeth Burgess, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center; Rebecca Jallot, Leighton House Museum; Jill Hawkins and Erica Walker, Biltmore Estate; Claire Mayoh and Jim Bright, Henry Moore Institute Archive; Tom Morgan, National Portrait Gallery, London; Celia Harvey, Christie’s Images Lim- ited; Patricia Clement, Musée Girodet; Louise McCarron, National Library of Scotland; Marc Dalton, Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd; Jack Thomp- son; and L. W. Hurtado and Jesse Hurtado. My research was supported by generous financial assistance from the following: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship Programme; the University of Manitoba Graduate Fel- lowship program; the J. G. Fletcher Faculty of Arts Award fund, University of Manitoba; and the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, Postdoctoral Fellowship. Grants from the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (for publishers) and the Paul Mellon Foundation (for authors) defrayed the costs of publishing the images. Warm thanks are due to my publisher, Peter Lang Ltd, for produc- ing such a pleasing result. Hannah Godfrey (editor), Isabel James (of fice administrator) and Gemma Lewis (text formatter) enviably combined the qualities of patience and ef ficiency necessary to bring the project to a satisfying conclusion. Kind friends Shirley Levacy, Linda...

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