Manchester Art Gallery

Sweet Peas

Object description

A detailed study of three flowering sweet pea stems. The left blossom, with a rich pink colour in its centre, has pink and blue-purple tones; the right blossom fades from a light pink to white; leaves grow only on the left stem; coiling climber growth. No background detail.

Display label

Female Presence in the Manchester Art Museum Horsfall had a limited budget so he had to buy economically. In order to encourage the appreciation of nature, he acquired floral watercolours which were inexpensive and tended to be by women. Victorian women artists’ choice of medium and subject matter was limited by social acceptability and the constraints of domestic routine. We are exhibiting their watercolours here as many are better pictures, of their kind, than the more expensive paintings by men in the Horsfall collection. In 1912, the Art Museum’s first academic curator, Bertha Hindshaw, was employed because, as a woman, she offered good value for money. She trained groups of teachers in how to use the Museum, and local children flocked to hear her talks. She did such a good job that the Museum Committee soon raised her salary. Many of the volunteers who kept the Museum running were women too; it was respectable yet relatively intellectual charitable work.