Jessie Mothersole

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jessie Mothersole
Colchester, Essex, UK
OccupationArchaeologist, artist, author
Academic background
Alma materSlade School of Fine Art
Academic work
Notable worksHadrian's Wall

Jessie Mothersole (1874–1958) was a British archaeologist, artist, and author.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Mothersole was born in Essex in 1874 and trained at the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1891/92 until 1896.[3][4] During this time Mothersole was awarded prizes and certificates in drawing from life and antique drawing. From 1899 Mothersole studied with and then worked with the artist Henry Holiday as his studio assistant and was closely associated with him and his family until his death in 1927.[5] Holiday wrote enthusiastically in his memoirs about Mothersole's talent with stained glass and decorative arts[6] and intended to bequeath her his collections of cartoons and drawings.[7]

While at the Slade School of Fine Arts, Mothersole was also taught by Alphonse Legros and by her own account in 1892 when she went to speak to him found a discarded self-portrait which had been torn into eight pieces. Mothersole kept the pieces and later donated the drawing to the Victoria and Albert Museum.[8] Mothersole also donated a silverpoint drawing of a young woman by Ellen Lucy Grazebrook.[9]


Mothersole's early work in archaeological drawing included drawings of wall paintings from Saqqara, exhibited by Flinders Petrie in an exhibition at University College London in 1904.[1][10] These followed her work at the 1903/4 excavation season at Saqqara with Margaret Murray where alongside drawings Mothersole recorded the season with photographs, some of which were later published in an article "Tomb Copying in Egypt" for the family magazine Sunday at Home.[11] Her A photograph credited to Mothersole from this period was taken at Luxor and is now in the Petrie Museum.[4] Mothersole put on a further exhibition of her Egyptian work at Walker's Art Gallery, New Bond Street, London of Sketches in Egypt and other Works with Henry Holiday from 16 to 28 March 1908.[12]

Following her early work in Egypt, Mothersole primarily focused on British archaeology. Mothersole's first illustrated book, concerning the Isles of Scilly, was published in 1910,[13] and her first full-length book on Hadrian's Wall in 1922.[14] For this she drew on both excavation reports and direct contacts with the archaeologists then excavating it as well making her own observations as she walked the wall's length.[14][15][16] Her book offers a timely commentary on the Wall’s scheduling that ensures its status as a protected ancient monument.[16]

Mothersole's key watercolours of Hadrian's Wall were exhibited 30 October-11 November 1922 at Walker's Art Gallery.[17][18]

Mothersole, like Henry Holiday, was an active campaigner for Women's suffrage. She made a drawing of a fellow campaigner, Myra Sadd Brown, at a meeting in c.1912 which is held in the archives of the Women's Library.[19][20]

Select publications[edit]

  • 1903. (Illustrator) Apuleius. The Story of Cupid and Pyche. Stuttaford, C. (ed.).
  • 1905. (Illustrator) Murray, M.A. Saqqara Mastabas Part 1. London. Bernard Quaritch.
  • 1910. The Isles of Scilly – their story, their folk, their flowers. London. The Religious Tract Society.
  • 1922. Hadrian's Wall. London. Bodley Head.
  • 1924. The Saxon Shore. London. Bodley Head.
  • 1926. Czechoslovakia – Land of an Unconquerable Ideal. New York. Dodd, Mead & Co.
  • 1927. Agricola's Road into Scotland. London. Bodley Head
  • 1927. In Roman Scotland. London. Bodley Head.


  1. ^ a b Thornton, A. "The digital makes visible the invisible". British Art Studies. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  2. ^ "MOTHERSOLE Jessie 1873–1958". Artist Biographies. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Blog Archives". Amara Thornton. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b UCL. "The Slade Session, and Beyond | UCL Slade Archive Project". Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  5. ^ "drawing". British Museum. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  6. ^ Holiday, Henry (1914). Reminiscences of My Life. London: William Heinemann.
  7. ^ Harris, E. I.; Scott, S. R. (1997). A Gallery of Her Own: An Annotated Bibliography of Women in Victorian Painting. Routledge. p. 5.
  8. ^ "Drawing | Legros, Alphonse | V&A Search the Collections". V and A Collections. 1 May 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Head of a woman | Grazebrook, Ellen Lucy | V&A Search the Collections". V and A Collections. 1 May 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  10. ^ Thornton, A. (2015). "Exhibition Season: Annual Archaeological Exhibitions in London, 1880s–1930s" (PDF). Bulletin of the History of Archaeology. 25 (1). doi:10.5334/bha.252.
  11. ^ Mothersole, Jessie (February 1908). "Tomb Copying in Egypt". Sunday At Home: 345–351.
  12. ^ "Exhibition Culture: title text". Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  13. ^ Mothersole, J. (1910). The Isles of Scilly – their story, their folk, their flowers. London, The Religious Tract Society.
  14. ^ a b Mothersole, J. (1922). Hadrian's Wall. London : Lane.
  15. ^ Richmond, I. A. (November 1928). "In Roman Scotland. By Jessie Mothersole. London: The Bodley Head Press. Pp. xiii + 282, 13 plates, 45 figures. 10s. 6d. - The Border. By Brigadier-General W. Sitwell. Newcastle-on-Tyne: Andrew Reid; London: Simpkin Marshall, Hamilton Kent & Co. Pp. vi. + 278, 13 plates, map in folder". The Journal of Roman Studies. 18 (1): 128–128. doi:10.2307/296069. ISSN 1753-528X.
  16. ^ a b Montfort, Patricia de; Calvert, Robyne Erica; Meacock, Joanna; Hatchwell, Sophie; Williamson, Hannah; Nunn, Pamela Gerrish; MacDonald, Margaret F.; Hebson, Nadia; Woodcock, Sally; Thornton, Amara; Strickland, Alice (4 April 2016). "Still Invisible?". British Art Studies (2). doi:10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-02/still-invisible. ISSN 2058-5462.
  17. ^ "Exhibition Culture: title text". Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  18. ^ "Blog Archives". Amara Thornton. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Papers re Myra Sadd Brown". Women's Library Archives. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  20. ^ "Beth Moss | Westminster Radio". Retrieved 1 May 2019.