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Women in the Visual Arts

19th & 20th Important Women Artists in History


in the Visual Arts

Women in the Visual Arts - Lilian Etherington was a British artist active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While information about her life and work is relatively limited, she is recognised for her skills as an illustrator and painter. Lilian Etherington was born in 1867 in England. She studied art at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, which was renowned for its progressive approach to art education. The Slade School attracted many talented artists and provided a supportive environment for developing artistic skills.

Lilian M. Etherington (active 1884–1914) was a Woman at the forefront of 19th-century visual art.

Lilian Mary Etherington (1864-1952) gained recognition for her work as an illustrator and exceptional portrait painter. She created illustrations for books, periodicals, and other publications, showcasing her talent for capturing the essence of the written word through visual imagery. Unfortunately, specific examples of her illustrations or notable projects are not widely documented. In addition to her illustration work, Etherington also produced paintings. However, there is limited information available about the subjects or themes she explored in her artwork. While Etherington's career spanned the late 19th and early 20th centuries, she was active during a time when female artists faced significant challenges in gaining recognition and establishing themselves within the art world. Despite the obstacles, many talented women like Etherington persevered and left their mark on the artistic landscape of their time. It's important to note that information about Lilian Etherington is relatively scarce, and there may be further details or aspects of her life and work that are not readily available because she was an artist before her time.

Lilian Mary Reynolds (1864-1952) was born in Hammersmith, London in April 1864. The daughter of Charles Etherington, a solicitor, and Lucy. One of at least six children (Charles, Ambrose, Lucy, Edward, Eleanor and Lilian), all raised in Hammersmith. Ambrose Etherington also became a solicitor. By the age of 16, Lilian was already an art student in London. Studied at Ridley's Art School and in Brussels. By the early 1890s, she was living in Kensington with relatives and was working as a portrait and figure painter. Head of the house was John Williams, an author and editor. By the early 1900s, she was based at St Paul's Studios, Hammersmith in an area full of artists. Her neighbours included painter/illustrator Gertrude Hammond, art student Dorothea Williams and painter Herbert Sidney.
In early 1903 Lilian married civil engineer John Francis Jodrell Reynolds who was eight years younger. The couple lived in Chelsea but subsequently spent time living with his parents in Haslemere, Surrey before moving back to London. John Reynolds died in Wandsworth in 1948. Lilian died in Wandsworth, aged 87.
They had one child who is listed as deceased shortly after birth. Lilian exhibited her work early in her career, but showed less after her marriage. Exhibited at the Royal Academy (1885-1906), the Royal Society of British Artists (1884-89), the Society of Women Artists (1885-89) and in Liverpool, Manchester and Bombay. Exhibited works included: An Idle Boy, The Turn of the Leaf, Greed for Gold, Little Lord Fauntleroy and Fledgelings. Elected a Member of the Ridley Art Club.

Female artists faced numerous difficulties and challenges as professional artists in the 19th and 20th centuries. Here are some of the key issues they encountered:
1. Limited Access to Art Education: Art education was primarily reserved for men during this period. Many art academies and institutions either barred women from admission or offered them limited opportunities for training. As a result, female artists often had to seek alternative forms of education, such as private tutors or informal apprenticeships.
2. Exclusion from Art Institutions and Exhibitions: Women were frequently excluded from prominent art institutions, galleries, and exhibitions. These institutions were predominantly male-dominated and often overlooked the work of female artists, making it difficult for them to gain recognition and exposure for their art.
3. Lack of Financial Independence: Women generally had limited access to financial resources and independence. This made it challenging for female artists to support themselves financially, obtain art supplies, or fund their artistic endeavors. Many female artists relied on the support of male relatives or patrons to sustain their artistic careers.
4. Social and Cultural Constraints: Society's expectations for women during the 19th and early 20th centuries were primarily centered around domesticity and motherhood. Pursuing a professional career as an artist was often seen as unconventional and socially unacceptable for women, leading to societal pressure and disapproval.
5. Gender Bias and Stereotypes: Female artists faced gender bias and stereotypes that affected their opportunities and reception within the art world. Their work was often undervalued or dismissed as lacking the depth and seriousness associated with male artists. Female artists were often pigeonholed into subjects considered appropriate for women, such as still life, portraiture, or domestic scenes, rather than being encouraged to explore a wide range of themes and styles.
6. Challenges in Representation and Subject Matter: The representation of women in art was primarily from a male perspective, often objectifying or idealizing the female form. Female artists faced difficulties in challenging these established norms and exploring alternative representations of women or addressing gender-related issues.
7. Limited Professional Networks: Male-dominated professional networks and societies made it challenging for women to establish connections and collaborations with fellow artists, patrons, and dealers. This lack of networking opportunities further hindered their artistic development and career advancement.
Despite these challenges, many talented female artists emerged during this period and made significant contributions to the art world. Over time, female artists gradually gained more recognition and opportunities, and their work played a crucial role in challenging societal norms and expanding the scope of artistic expression.
High Street Kensington, located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, was not particularly known as a major art scene in the 19th century. However, it did have some artistic presence and developments during that time.
1. Artists' Residences and Studios: High Street Kensington and its surrounding areas attracted a number of artists who sought affordable living and working spaces. Many artists rented houses or set up studios in the vicinity, contributing to a modest artistic community.
2. Artistic Societies and Organizations: Several artistic societies and organizations emerged in London during the 19th century, but they were not specifically centered around High Street Kensington. However, some artists residing in the area might have been affiliated with these groups, which provided opportunities for networking and exhibiting their work.
3. Art Dealers and Galleries: While High Street Kensington did not have notable art galleries or dealers at that time, nearby areas such as Bond Street and Mayfair were the primary hubs for art sales and exhibitions. Artists from High Street Kensington could have traveled to these locations to showcase and sell their artwork.
4. Influence of Victorian Culture: The Victorian era, spanning the 19th century, was characterized by a strong focus on morality, propriety, and conservative values. This cultural climate influenced the themes and styles of many artists during this period. Artists residing in High Street Kensington might have drawn inspiration from the surrounding Victorian architecture and lifestyle, incorporating these elements into their work.
5. Museums and Exhibitions: While High Street Kensington did not house major art museums or exhibitions during the 19th century, the nearby South Kensington area was home to the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). The museum showcased various artworks, decorative arts, and design objects, providing artistic inspiration and educational opportunities for artists in the vicinity. Overall, while High Street Kensington was not a prominent art scene in the 19th century compared to other areas of London, it did have a modest artistic presence with artists residing in the area and potentially participating in wider artistic movements and exhibitions in the city.

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