In need of something to do this bank holiday weekend? Why not visit the Mary Annie Sloane: A Portrait of the Artist exhibition at the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery Leicester, which opened Friday 25th March, located within the Victorian Gallery. Take a step back in time as this exhibition explores the work of Mary Annie Sloane [1867-1961] one of Leicestershire’s most distinguished artists.
The exhibition has been thoughtfully curated with carefully selected artwork, allow visitors to view a collection combined of watercolours, oils, prints and drawings from Mary’s early period in Leicester through to her life in London, where work has been brought together from Leicester museums as well as unseen artworks from private family collections.
Born in Leicester Mary Annie Sloane live a comfortable middle class life where her father was a doctor at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. She was educated at Belmont House School and studied at the Leicester School of Art before continuing in Hertfordshire and then in London. Mary chose to pursue an artistic career path at a time when opportunities for women were extremely difficult and few female artists received serious recognition.
In addition to her work as a fine artist Mary was also a member of the Leicester Archaeological and Historical Society as well as directing her energies to campaigns for women’s suffrage and travelling. Mary also had a close friendship with May Morris, daughter of William Morris, father of the Arts and Crafts Movement to which Mary was introduced. Artefacts from May Morris are also showcased in the exhibition, including a dress designed for her dear friend (1900) and a letter addressed to the members of the Women’s Guild of Arts (1916).
As a profile artist Mary’s artwork was regularly exhibited at prestigious venues, including the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters to name a few. Mary was also a member of the Society of Women Artists (SWA), where her portrait the ‘Old Town Hall, Leicester’ was exhibited with them in 1888.
Another notable work of Mary’s was the etching of the ‘Aylestone Packhorse Bridge’ where she gained an honourable mention at the Paris Salon of 1903. Travelling was a passion of Mary’s and is portrayed through her beautiful water-coloured work of Italian city landscapes including that of the Renaissance birthplace, Florence.
For those with a passion of Leicester’s history, this exhibition is a perfect way to look back at Leicester’s heritage sites through Mary Annie Sloane’s eyes and artwork including ‘The Newarke’, ‘Roman Remains at Jewry Wall’ and ‘Guildhall Courtyard’ to name a few. A charming exhibition from one of Leicester’s prominent artists.
This exhibition is now on until July 3rd. For more information visit: www.visitleicester.info
By Jessica Challoner-Sterland