Ethel M. Mallinson, Edwardian Girl in Sailor Dress Smoking - 1908 watercolour

An original 1908 watercolour painting, Ethel M. Mallinson Edwardian Girl in Sailor Dress Smoking.

A witty and beautifully executed drawing in ink and watercolour by Ethel M. Mallinson (fl.c.1892-1940). Mallinson was a very interesting figure in the Leeds art scene in the early 20th century and a leading member of the prestigious Leeds Fine Arts Club. She exhibited pictures at the RSA and RSW between 1917 and 1940.

This drawing, dated 1908 on the verso, was possibly drawn in response to the Children's Act of 1908, which prohibited the sale of tobacco products to youths less than sixteen years of age. Mallinson was herself involved in charitable work with local children, along with her friend Jessie Beatrice Kitson, of the influential local Kitson family, who was to work as a Magistrate and Poor Law Guardian.

This clever drawing, however, also plays on ideas of bourgeois masculine ideology, smoking (and cigar and pipe smoking in particular) having been the preserve of men, and a sign of sophistication and intellect.

Monogrammed upper left.
There are some minor marks to the paper, and four small cuts within the paper: two towards the upper edge and two towards the left. Please see photos for detail. There are paper and glue remnants across the back of the sheet, from historically being laid down.
18.2cm x 13.3cm.

This is one of a remarkable collection of works by Ethel M. Mallinson (1878-1970) that we have for sale, which showcase her particular illustrative style. 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.

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Product code: JN-418

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