Art History, Artists, On this day..., Painters

On this day… died Mary Moser

Mary Moser was an English painter of the eighteenth century. She is famous for being one of the two female founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768. And she was a very celebrated artist of her time in Britain.

Moser was best known by her still life paintings, but she was also a portraitist. She was trained by her father, the Swiss painter George Michael Moser; since the beginning her talent was evident and regularly she exhibited still life pieces at the Society of Artists of Great Britain.

Moser, Mary, 1744-1819; Vase of Flowers
Vase of Flowers (Photo credit: ArtUK)

In her search for professional recognition she joined a group of 35 artists (including her father and other female artist, Angelica Kauffmann) in forming the Royal Academy.

There’s a famous painting by Johan Zoffany where the members of the Royal Academy are shown gathered around a nude model, but the two female founding members were excluded from this kind of training in order to protect their modesty, so to solve this “problem” they were added as portraits hanging on the wall.

The_Portraits_of_the_Academicians_of_the_Royal_Academy,_1771-72,_oil_on_canvas,_The_Royal_Collection_by_Johan_Zoffany
The portraits of the Academicians of the Royal Academy by Johan Zoffany – 1771/72 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1790’s she received a prestigious commission from Queen Charlotte to complete a floral decorative scheme for a room in Frogmore House in Windsor. She was paid over £900 for this work. It was one of her last professional works, she retired after her marriage, only exhibiting as amateur and using her married name.

Curiosities:

  • She won her first Society of Arts medal when she’s 14.
  • She had an open affair with Richard Cosway (who was separated from his wife, another painter Maria Cosway). They travelled together for six months on a sketching tour in 1793.
  • After Moser’s death in 1819, no further women were elected as full members of the Academy until Dame Laura Knight in 1936.

 

References:

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