Celebrating Female Artists:
Creativity, Individuality and Perseverance

As a tribute to International Women’s Day 2022, we would like to celebrate female artists and take a look at their contribution to the world of art as well as the achievements they have made.  Women have been exploring their own talents, whilst pushing creative boundaries for centuries and as a result, have been paving the way for contemporary artists to be able to express themselves through artistic freedom. This month we take a look at the life of some of the best female artists and the artwork we have had the pleasure of hanging on the walls of our gallery.

Female Artists - Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange

Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange

Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange was born into a family in which the women had been artists and costume designers, the men architects and draftsmen. She began in the decorative arts herself then, after her marriage to Selmersheim ended (she retained the name), she met Paul Signac and became his life partner.

Although she had had considerable training already, it was Signac who became her teacher. Through this relationship, Selmersheim-Desgrange embraced the Neo-Impressionist pointillist style for which Signac had developed alongside Paul Seurat. Her paintings were highly celebrated and went on to be exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon des Indépendants beginning in 1909.

Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange’s direct talent as an artist may be seen in the distinctive compositions of her brilliant still lifes and landscapes. Selmersheim-Desgrange’s works feature high-key colors and block-like strokes typical of the later phase of Neo-Impressionism. Her work is really celebrated for its sincerity and a certain unrestrained quality of exuberance that it shows. It can almost be said that her paintings sing. Through her relationship with Paul Signac she embraced the pointillist style which Signac had developed alongside Seurat. Complimentary colours placed beside one another mix optically in the eye, rather than physically on the canvas, creating third hues where they touch. Through this the artist has created a body of energetic compositions.

In 1913 Signac rented a charming house in Antibes, where he settled with Jeanne shortly before the birth of their daughter Ginette. The relaxed atmosphere, the intense light, the brilliant earthen colors, and azure seas all helped to form Selmersheim-Desgrange’s aesthetic. Life in the South of France was focused around the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, and Selmersheim-Desgrange’s most spectacular works are those composed of view from a balcony looking onto the glistening Mediterranean beyond. Her own work is filled with, and reflects a true feminine sensitivity, in both the colouring and subject matter.

Dorothea Sharp

Female Artists Dorothea Sharp

Dorothea Sharp believed colour to be as important as form in the creation of a work and painted quickly with a heavily loaded brush. These ideas and techniques were learnt in Paris where she became influenced by the Impressionists, particularly by Monet. She was well known for her paintings of women and children and is one of the most influential female artists of her generation.

In 1903 she became an Associate of the Society of Women Artists, becoming a full member five years later. She was also elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1906 and 1923 respectively. Sharp exhibited at The Royal Academy from 1901-1948 and lived for most of her life in London. She held her first one-woman show at the Connell Gallery in 1933, which proved a great success and was constantly attended by admiring visitors.

Influenced by the work of the Impressionists, the clarity of light, her unusual use of colour, and her free brushwork all combined to emphasize her significant role in the development of twentieth-century British art. Her works are now exhibited in museums throughout the world


Female Artists Hilda Celments Hassel

Hilda Clements Hassell was a talented British artist whose work was inspired by the Fauvism of her French peers. The name ‘les fauves’ literally translates as ‘the wild beasts’ and is a term that was coined by the critic Louis Vauxcelles when he saw the work of Henri Matisse and André Derain in the Salon d’Automne in Paris in 1905.

Although Hassel’s work is very much in line with the Fauve’s, she also followed the route of the Scottish colourists, Samuel Peploe and Francis Cadell, on their informative trip to France, Spain and Morocco. Like the Scottish artists, Hassell drew from the intense light and opulent colours that she saw on her travels. This enriched her artistic output, establishing her own vibrant post-impressionist style with vivid colours, always handling impasto with strong and confident brush strokes.

Mary Fedden left school to study at the Slade School of Art at the age of sixteen. After leaving the college she made a living teaching, painting portraits and producing stage designs for Sadlers Wells and the Arts Theatre. At the outbreak of the Second World War Fedden served in the Land Army and the Woman’s Voluntary Service and was commissioned to produce murals for the war effort. In 1944 she was sent abroad as a driver for the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes.


Female Artists Mary Fedden
Female Artists Mary Fedden

After the war, Fedden returned to easel painting and developed her individual style of still life painting. From 1958-1964 she taught at the Royal College of Art and was appointed the first female tutor in the Painting School. Her pupils included David Hockney and Allen Jones. Subsequently, Fedden taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School and was elected Royal Academician. From 1984 to 1988 she was President of the Royal West of England Academy. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath and an O.B.E. for her work.

Mary Fedden worked with bold palettes and simplified shapes, carefully orchestrating her still life compositions to draw out the extraordinary from ordinary objects. In fact, it was her constant progression and development throughout her career that makes her overall body of work so interesting; from her earlier pieces playing with colour, perspective, and patterns to her later work experimenting with light, texture, and crisper, cleaner lines.


Female Artists - Francesca Currie

Francesca Currie is a contemporary artist based in Cheltenham with a diverse portfolio spanning portraits, photographs, equine works and still lifes. Her work combines the traditional techniques of the Old Masters with a modern viewpoint to create classical representational oil paintings with contemporary composition.

She went on to study at the London Atelier of Representational Art and has exhibited across the country including in London, Broadway and York. She became an associate to the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in 2017 and was elected (their youngest) full member in 2018.

Her work combines the traditional techniques of the Old Masters with a modern viewpoint to create classical representational oil paintings with contemporary composition. Francesca has been on Sky Arts Portrait Artist Of The Year 2021 and had the wonderful opportunity to paint Sir Trevor McDonald, who chose her portrait to take home as his personal favourite.


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