Dorothy B.M. Kerr, Edwardian Society, Hyde Park, London - 1903 graphite drawing


An original 1903 graphite drawing, Dorothy B.M. Kerr Edwardian Society, Hyde Park, London.

A fine Edwardian figure drawing by (Frances) Dorothy Beresford Maule Kerr. The artist captures the optimism and opulent fashions of La Belle Epoque, whilst also engaging with the transformations in women's roles at the beginning of the 20th century.

On laid paper. There are sketches on the verso of the paper as shown.

Unsigned. Dated lower right.
Inscribed lower right.
Some minor marks and discolouration. Please see photos for detail.
21.6cm x 16.6cm.

This picture is one of an interesting collection of works that we have for sale by (Frances) Dorothy Beresford Maule Kerr. Kerr was part of a well-to-do military family—her sitters include captains and colonels, and her descendants include Royal Marine pilot Guy Beresford Kerr 'Griff' Griffiths (who gained notoriety as a prisoner of war for using his artistic skills to fake sketches and forge documents to misinform Nazi intelligence). Dorothy appears to have attended Art School, and correspondence accompanying this collection indicates that she had aspirations to be a professional artist. These drawings, produced when Dorothy was a young lady before her marriage to William Arthur Griffiths of Alverstoke, aptly embody the spirit of self-betterment that characterised the so-called 'New Women' of the Edwardian era—free-spirited, fierce women, emboldened by the suffragists, who broke apart the traditional female roles.

Kerr's drawings combine sensitive, skilful portrait studies with more stylised depictions of Edwardian women, akin to the contemporaneous 'Gibson Girl' drawings of the American artist Charles Dana Gibson. Like Gibson's girls, Kerr's women are bold and beautiful, and are engaged in activities which were previously the preserve of men—playing sport, taking photographs, doing the accounts. Unlike the idealised 'Gibson Girl' vision, however, Kerr's work goes further to engage with social politics of the day—the women she depicts include 'Revolting Daughters', a reference to the influential 1894 article 'The Revolt of the Daughters' by the journalist B.A. Crackenthorpe, which called for greater freedom for unmarried women in their twenties.

The drawings also show influences of the fashionable artistic styles of the day. The sensuous curves of some of Kerr's figure studies melt away into the organic tendrils of Art Nouveau, with some women portrayed as flower-adorned nymphs. The flattened decorative forms of Japonisme also feature in her work, with some women clothed in Japanese dress. These stylish drawings, as a result, represent a time when popular design, including fashion, was newly inspired by art, and barriers were inexorably being broken down between fine and applied arts.

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Product code: JP-859

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