Ethel M. Mallinson (1878-1970)

Sort by

This remarkable collection of 'brilliantly clever drawings' showcases the distinctive illustrative style of Ethel M. Mallinson (1878-1970). Her works combine mastery of the watercolour medium with elements of social commentary and liberal, progressive politics.

Our collection spans the first four decades of the twentieth century, from 1900 to 1938. The pictures are a fascinating record of a gifted woman in the Suffragette era. In 1927, critic Herbert Thompson wrote that her work ‘unites the freedom of a sketch with the carefully planned design of a considered composition; everything in it is absolutely right, yet it has the sense of spontaneity that is one of the greatest charms in watercolour.’ And, Mallinson’s ‘brilliantly clever drawings’ show an ‘inborn sense of form which makes her hastiest draughtsmanship expressive’. Her subjects range from the humorous, to the political, to the inspirational, and works include: a view at Jessie Beatrice Kitson’s birth home, Elmet Hall in Roundhay; local travels by bicycle or further afield in Scotland, Belgium, Italy and North Africa; and moments of political and social significance, such as the 1918 Armistice and election of radically liberal Leeds MP Richard Denman in 1931.

Mallinson’s leading role in the prestigious Leeds Fine Arts Society (as secretary 1908-48) made a significant contribution to the intellectual life of the city, and through the Club she associated with artists such as Ina Kitson Clark and Jacob Kramer. But it is her close friendship with Jessie Beatrice Kitson, of the immensely wealthy Kitson engineering family, that had most influence on her watercolours in style and subject. Jessie Beatrice’s brother was watercolour artist Robert Hawthorn Kitson (1873-1947), who lived a flamboyant life in Sicily, and who was an old friend and patron of Frank Brangwyn. And through the wider Kitson family there are further interesting artistic connections, such as Sydney Decimus Kitson (1871-1937), who was an avid collector and scholar of John Sell Cotman. Most of all, Ethel’s affection for her friend Jessie Beatrice can be seen in her work.