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Introducing Mary Ann Alabaster

The Artist’s Painting-Room - a painting by Mary Ann Alabaster

Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster, The Artist’s Painting-Room , June 12, 1830. Oil on canvas, unframed: 84.5 x 70.4 cm. Gift of Morton Rapp in memory of Hyman M. Smith, 2008. © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario.

To celebrate the #5womenartists challenge, we’re highlighting some amazing women artists featured at the AGO as well as incredible women curators who work with them.

This week we’re focusing on the English artist, Mary Ann Alabaster (1805–1879). Despite an interest in drawing from an early age, Alabaster was forbidden by her mother from pursuing a career as a painter; they even sent her to boarding school to stop her from painting. But that didn’t prevent her from pursuing her passion. After leaving school when her father died, she woke up early to practice painting before beginning her day. Eventually, this won over her mother and Alabaster began to paint full-time, while caring for her son and her brother’s three children after his death. The painting The Artist’s Painting Room, which was Alabaster’s first to be shown at an exhibition, is on display now in the AGO’s Richard Barry Fudger Memorial Gallery. In the painting, she creates her ideal studio, placing herself among some of art history’s male icons. Caroline Shields, Assistant Curator, European Art, shares the story of this painting and why we should all learn more about this fascinating artist.

Watch what she has to say in the video below.

(For optimal viewing, use the Chrome internet browser.)

Don’t miss our other stories on #5womenartists, including our feature on Käthe Kollwitz, a leading 20th century German artist known for her etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, sculptures and drawings. Check out our piece on the friendship between Canadian painters Pegi Nicol MacLeod and Marian Dale Scott. And look back at our conversation with Québécois/Abenaki abstract artist Rita Letendre.

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