The mid-Victorian woman artist, 1850-1879
The female artist has been almost invisible in historical account of the mid-Victorian period, yet between 1850 and 1879 many moves were made towards recognising women as practitioners within the field of the fine arts, and indeed, the woman artist was a part the 'woman question' which so exercised the period. There is a stereotypical figure and stereotypical notions of 'woman's art' at large in the mid-Victorian period which do much to obscure a distort the actual activities and achievements of women practices in painting, sculpture and graphic art within the period. The situation of the woman aspiring to be an artist was very clearly determined by the situation of the mid-Victorian woman in society at large. Particular factors, however, which form important pa of her circumstances are education, exhibition, patronage, and employment. Within the period, education was seen as the most crucial factor in allowing women to test their capabilities in fine arts, though many quarters of opinion, throughout the midcentury period, held that women were more, and fundamentally, f for the. applied arts of design or craft than fine art, and would never produce great art regardless of the opportunity they might be offered. The validity and development of such opinion can be t by examining the work which women did produce in this period during which their identity was being resolved, and by-considering the critical responses made to their work. Unfortunately, much of actual evidence is now lost or untraced, leaving only verbal or reproductions to stand for the paintings, drawings, and sculptures which the mid-Victorian woman artist produced. When she and he work are taken into account, however, it can be seen that the traditional face of mid-Victorian art, as heretofore defined and described, should be corrected if an accurate and full picture the art of the mid-Victorian period is to be drawn up. During years 1850 to 1879, the woman artist became a recognisable figures the art scene such as she had not been before, although later historians have largely failed to recognise the fact.