Ethel M Mallinson,Leeds MP Richard Denman,National Labour Party,1931 watercolour

An original 1931 watercolour painting, Ethel M. Mallinson Election of Leeds MP Richard Denman National Labour Party.

A fascinating painting 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 painting shows the election of radical liberal politician Richard Denman as MP for Leeds in October 1931. Formally of the Liberal Party, when the Labour party split over support for a National Government, Denman followed Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald into the National Labour party and was re-elected under this label at the 1931.

The image is made all the more powerful by the inclusion of Mallinson herself, and her friend Jessie Beatrice Kitson, in the painting lower left - two women amidst a sea of men. J.B. Kitson went on to become first female Lord Mayor of Leeds, and through Kitson Mallinson was involved in local humanitarian work.

Unsigned. Inscribed and dated lower right.
There are three small patches of repair to the paper, the main being to the right of the MP figure, but none are especially visible. Please see photos for detail. There are glue remnants on the back of the sheet, from historically being laid down.
23.2cm x 16.3cm.

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.

Text copyright © 2019 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

Product code: JN-416

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