Pre-Raphaelite painter and women’s rights campaigner Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891) was an early female participant in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Landscape was Bodichon’s preferred genre, and her style reflects Pre-Raphaelite principles of careful observation and detailed rendering. Bodichon traveled widely and exhibited at the Royal Academy and Gambart’s French Gallery in Pall Mall, London, among other venues.
Throughout her life she was a tireless reformer and champion of women’s rights. In 1854, she published her Brief Summary of the Laws of England Concerning Women, which was later used to promote the passage of the Married Women’s Property Act 1882. In 1858, she set up the English Women’s Journal and in 1866, with Emily Davies, developed a strategy to extend university education to women, resulting in the founding of Girton College, Cambridge.
In 2016, the Museum acquired the watercolor Ventnor, Isle of Wight (1856), which became the inspiration for this exhibition. Bodichon’s working process will be examined and feature watercolor sketches and drawings from her travels. The approximately 30 works are drawn from the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection at the University of Delaware and recent acquisitions in the Museum’s permanent collection.