Female artist of the week – Margaret Sarah Carpenter

I love stumbling across women artists, particularly artists from historical periods when being an artist or having a trade was not the done thing. I have a whole book dedicated to women artists which I adore, but I love finding new ones. Anyway, I thought I’d start doing this on a regular basis. Some will be historical, some contemporary, some I love, some I don’t care too much for but still find interesting from a historical standpoint. Anyway, here’s one to kick us off!

Margaret Sarah Carpenter (1793–1872) was a Victorian era painter in Britain who mostly focused on portraits, and continued to paint after she married. She won awards, exhibited at the Royal Academy & British Institution, starting her career at 20 years old. She was noted as being ‘the best woman portrait painter of her time’ (Whitley, p. 162), and painted many notable Victorians – both male and female.

I came across her while reading about Ada Lovelace (sometimes known as the first computer programmer …. considering I’m a female programmer in my day job, I love reading about my forebears :) ). Here is a small sample of her work:

 

 Portrait of a young girl, thought to be Henrietta Carpenter, in oriental dress

Portrait of a young girl, thought to be Henrietta Carpenter, in oriental dress

 

Ada Lovelace, 19th century British mathematician (1836)

Ada Lovelace, 19th century British mathematician (1836)

 

Mrs Charles Sabine Thellusson, née Georgiana Theobald (1828–1883)

Mrs Charles Sabine Thellusson, née Georgiana Theobald (1828–1883), Copyright English Heritage / Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

Portrait of a Man (possibly Alexander Boyd) 1845

Portrait of a Man (possibly Alexander Boyd) 1845, Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum / Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

4 Comments

  1. Carol Hartman

    I recently purchased a painting by Carpenter 1873 , it is of 4 children, one with a toy hoop. 2 females and two males. If you have any information , would you please e-mail me? Thank you, Carol Hartman

    1. ncadet
      ncadet

      Sadly I have no information for you. I didn’t come across any information or even photographs remotely related to the described painting … the closest was a single boy dressed in blue with a toy hoop.

    1. Nicole
      Nicole

      Hi Eugenie, I believe you are referring to a different person. Margaret Sarah Carpenter was born Margaret Sarah Geddes, Carpenter was her married name and I’ve not read anywhere that she was born into poverty/ forced into work houses. From a quick google search, Sarah Carpenter was a working girl in Victorian factories, but I’m pretty sure they are two different people.

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