Jane Maria Bowkett (British, 1837-1891)

  • Sold

Jane Maria Bowkett (British, 1837-1891) 


Oil on Canvas

  • Provenance; Christie's South Kensington, 13th November 2003, Lot 321.  Sold for £4,700.00 GBP.  See photograph section.
  • Provenance; with Christopher Wood Gallery, London.  With gallery label verso.
  • Exhibited; The Royal Academy, London, 1881, number 288.
  • Signed with the artist's monogram and dated '1881 lower right.  Signed again and inscribed on the stretcher verso.
  • Similar listed to $33,600.00 USD at auction.
  • There are 3 paintings by this artist in the British National Art Collection.
  • Painting - 76cm x 30.5cm
  • Frame - 104cm x 58cm 

Lot Notes

A very fine oil painting on canvas depicting Ophelia from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet.  The painting has a great provenance having been sold by Christie's for £4,700 in 2003 - the auction result is shown in the photograph section and the catalogue can still be viewed online at Christie's website.  The painting has also been with the Christopher Wood Gallery, London.  The painting was originally exhibited at The Royal Academy in 1881, number 288 - see photographs.  Signed with the artist's monogram and dated lower right.


In very fine condition.  The canvas not lined, torn, patched or repaired.  Clean, most attractive, well framed and ready to hang.

Artist Information

Jane Maria Bowkett was a British traditional Victorian genre painter who worked primarily in oils. Her work has been described as 'delightful, slightly naive pictures of women and children, either interiors, or often beach scenes'. She managed, however, to establish a successful career as a professional artist in a male dominated occupation. It has been suggested that in some paintings, she created scenes that were ambiguous by refusing to depict women as models of moral virtue, and depicting mothers and children as being content regardless of a male presence. It is also suggested that the painting Young Lady in a Conservatory makes social commentary on the moral restrictions placed upon women as the subject is seen in a small conservatory with minimal room to move.

Born in London, Jane Maria Bowkett was the eldest of thirteen siblings. Many of her sisters became artists as well. Her father, Thomas Bowkett, was a medical practitioner and was active in the Chartist Movement. In 1862 J. M. Bowkett married the artist Charles Stuart, but continued to sign her work using her maiden name. She gave birth to six children, only three of which survived childbirth. The family, however, subsequently prospered, and in the mid 1880s Bowkett and her husband finally purchased an impressive newly built property in Hampstead with a huge galleried studio connected to the spacious house by a barrel-vaulted conservatory. She lived in this home until her death in 1891.

When Bowkett was first training to paint she attended a government-run school of design in London. Bowkett worked primarily in oils in which she often painted everyday domestic and genre scenes. She had a successful career. Her exhibition record started in 1858 with Angels Heads after Joshua Reynolds at the Society of Female Artists (later the Society of Women Artists). In 1860, she made her debut at the British Institution with Put your finger in the foxhole. This was sold for 3 guineas. Her last painting was exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy (The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington) in 1891. The price was £35. During the intervening years she exhibited over 120 paintings at these and many other galleries such as Society of British Artists (RBA), Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Walker Art Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, Royal Institute of Oil Painters. High prices could be achieved for her work; for instance, at the RBA in 1875 On the Sands at Shanklin, Isle of Wight sold for £157.10s. She also had four exhibits at the Royal Academy; one in 1861 (Preparing for dinner), two in 1881 (Ophelia and Four miles more) and one in 1882 (Sally in our Alley, etc.).