A portrait of Mary Moser by George Romney
27 October 1744|
|Died||2 May 1819(aged 74)|
Mary Moser RA (27 October 1744 – 2 May 1819) was an English painter and one of the most celebrated women artists of 18th-century Britain. One of only two female founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768, Moser painted portraits but is particularly noted for her depictions of flowers.
Life and career
London-born Moser was trained by her Swiss-born artist and enameller father George Michael Moser (1706–1783) and her talents were evident at an early age: she won her first Society of Arts medal at 14, and regularly exhibited flower pieces, and occasional history paintings, at the Society of Artists of Great Britain. Ten years later, however, her thirst for professional recognition led her to join with 35 other artists (including her father) in forming the Royal Academy, and, with Angelica Kauffman, she took an active role in proceedings.
In a group portrait by Johann Zoffany, The Academicians of the Royal Academy (1771–72; Royal Collection, London), members are shown gathered around a nude male model at a time when women were excluded from such training in order to protect their modesty. So that Moser and Kauffman could be included, Zoffany added them as portraits hanging on the wall.
In the 1790s, Moser received a prestigious commission, for which she was paid over £900, from Queen Charlotte to complete a floral decorative scheme for a room in Frogmore House in Windsor, Berkshire. This was to prove one of her last professional works; following marriage to a Captain Hugh Lloyd on 23 October 1793, she retired and began exhibiting as an amateur under her married name. She continued showing at the Royal Academy until 1802.
At this period Moser had an open affair with Richard Cosway, who was then separated from his wife Maria. She travelled with him for six months on a sketching tour in 1793. In his notebooks he made "lascivious statements" and "invidious comparisons between her and Mrs Cosway", implying that she was much more sexually responsive than his wife. She died in Upper Thornhaugh Street, London, on 2 May 1819, and was buried, alongside her husband at Kensington Cemetery.
After Moser's death in 1819, no further women were elected as full members of the Academy until Dame Laura Knight in 1936.
- Gibbons, Fiachra (24 September 2003). "Gallery honours pioneering woman painter". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Brian Stewart & Mervyn Cutten (1997). The Dictionary of Portrait Painters in Britain up to 1920. Antique Collectors' Club. ISBN 1 85149 173 2.
- O'Donoghue, Freeman Marius (1894). "Moser, Mary". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 38. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Schuchard Martha, Why Mrs Blake Cried: William Blake and the Erotic Imagination, Pimlico, 2007, p.253
- de Bray, Lys (2001). The Art of Botanical Illustration: A history of classic illustrators and their achievements, p. 72. Quantum Publishing Ltd., London. ISBN 1-86160-425-4.