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Mary Wollstonecraft

John Williamson, 1791

WAG 1541

About this object

This is a portrait of the pioneering author, philosopher and women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–97). Wollstonecraft campaigned throughout her life for the rights of women. Her ground-breaking book, ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ (1792), claimed that women had the right to experience and express sexual desire. It paved the way for more liberal attitudes to female sexuality.

Today, many feminists and LGBT activists name Wollstonecraft as an influence on them. The British writer Caitlin Moran described herself as ‘half Wollstonecraft’ in 2012.

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    Previously attributed to British School (British, born:unknown, died:unknown)
    Attributed to John Williamson (British: English, born:1751, died:1818-05-27)
  • Date
  • Materials
    Canvas; Oil paint
  • Measurements
    75.8 x 63 cm
  • Physical description
    Half length seated portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft. She is positioned to the left, looking towards the spectator. Her hands rest on a support in the foreground. She wears a loose white neckerchief; her hair is powdered and curled.
  • Related people
    British School (Artist/maker) ; Agnes Muriel Roscoe (Previous owner) ; William Roscoe (Previous owner) ; William Malin Roscoe (Previous owner) ; John Williamson (Artist/maker)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 1541
  • Credit line
    Bequeathed to the Walker Art Gallery by Agnes Muriel Roscoe in 1950
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery, Room 05
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Previous owners

  • Agnes Muriel Roscoe

    Owned from: 1915
    How acquired: by descent from William Malin Roscoe
    Owned until: 1950
    Disposal method: bequeathed to the Walker Art Gallery in 1950
  • William Malin Roscoe

    Owned from: 1859
    How acquired: by descent after the death of his father
    Owned until: 1915
    Disposal method: left to Agnes Muriel Roscoe
  • William Roscoe

    Owned from: 1791
    How acquired: commissioned in 1791
    Owned until: 1831
    Disposal method: by family descent
Object view = Fine Art
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