Friday, 17 October 2014

Review: Dangerous Women! From Kauffman to Emin

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of the Dangerous Women! exhibition at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth.  This had nothing to do with me being a dangerous woman (me? never!) and more to do with how much I love work by female artists, and the Russell-Cotes have a smashing collection. The beauty of this exhibition is that much of the work is from their own collection, but because of space and taste has not been seen for a while...

Kathleen and Marianne, Daughters of Samuel Gurney Sheppard
Louisa Starr Canziani
Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes' collection, formed between 1859 and 1920 features a surprisingly large number of female artists.  When they admired a piece that had already sold, they commissioned copies, so they have unusual examples of male artists copying the work of female artists, just so the Russell-Cotes could own the picture they wanted...

Love Locked Out (copy after Anna Lea Merritt)
Henry Justice Ford
There is an interesting portrait in the collection, formerly just attributed to 'British School' but recently identified as an Angelica Kauffman painting by Art-Ninja, Dr Bendor Grosvenor...

Portrait of a Young Officer in the Cheshire Militia (c.1760)
The idea behind the exhibition is tracing the history of female artists from the first woman Royal Academician to the most recent, Tracey Emin (represented in this exhibition by a piece of performance art and a poignant bed spread, entitled 'Here to Stay'.

For Victorian art fans (I know who my audience is) there are some utter gems on show.  Anna Alma-Tadema's painting of a Drawing Room with a rather familiar painting hung in it, is always a treat to see...

Drawing Room, 1a Holland Park Anna Alma-Tadema
I was utterly delighted to see the newly restored May Cooksey painting on display.  You may remember the post I wrote on Cooksey (see here) and to see the gorgeous Maria Virgo in her newly restored state was a bit of a highlight for me.

Lovely stuff.  You can see Violet Manners wonderful sketches (see my post on her here), and works by Alice Havers, Louisa Stuart and Jane Eleanor Benham Hay...

The Prodigal's Return Jane Benham Hay
Not only are there some gorgeous paintings on show over the two rooms, but also pieces of decorative art and sculpture as well.  Doultan vases designed by Hannah Barlow and Edith Lupton, and the most precious little bowl by the fabulously named Fanny Bunn...

Mr Walker showing me the beautiful bowl by Fanny Bunn.  Best name ever.
I have to admit that the real highlight for me was the case full of pieces by a little known Celtic Revival artist called Meave Doggett.  Meave spent the last years of her life in Bournemouth, giving four pieces of her work to the museum shortly before her death in the 1960s.  It was quite moving to see her work out on display as Meave herself is quite the keynote to the exhibition.  As an artist her career seems to have been short and at the mercy of time and opportunity.  Her talent seems great but the chances she received seemed less so.  If you go to the exhibition to see one object, let it be The Lady Shinain at the Well of Knowledge, it is just so astonishing...

Dangerous Women! From Kauffman to Emin is open now until 8th March 2015 and is free entry.  For further details see the Russell-Cotes website (here)


  1. I like the Meave Dogget. Is it an enamel, or what?

  2. It is enamel, as are the three other pieces, two pictures and a pendant. Gorgeous stuff.

  3. This looks great, is it to much to hope that there's a book to accompany the exhibition?

  4. Sadly not, which is often the sad thing about small shows. I gather it is an expensive business...

  5. The Maeve Dogget enamel at the end is amazing. I am trying my best at refraining from calling it 'Lady Shiny at the Well of Sparkles' but damn, that's some fine gilded enamel and I bet it glints and glows from inside then the light catches it just right. How big is it? It looks like it ought to be a box-lid, but you say it's a pendant. Those purples and greens and blues are just so vivid! I'd love a stained glass light-box of that.

  6. The Lady at the Sparkly Well is around the size of an A4 piece of paper, that's not the pendant. The Pendant is another piece of hers that is on display. Her work is just so beautiful, I would love to see more if anyone has any. Meave Doggett was definitely a talented woman.
    Thank you for your comments!


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx