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I chose these paintings because:



  • There are many paintings of women working where the head is bent over their work. They do not engage with the viewer. I find this makes the focus more on the work than the woman. She has been de-personalised. So I chose paintings where the subject gazes out at us, even though this means that she has either paused her work or sits dressed to reflect her work.

  • these women look at us and their gazes are complex. Is their gaze inward or outward?

  • these women are productive in their work and in their pastimes

  • they are socially diverse

  • and quite simply, their gazes fascinate me

8 artworks
Pit Brow Girl
Photo credit: National Coal Mining Museum for England

Pit Brow Girl 1895

Hannah Keen (1873–1899)

Oil on canvas

H 39 x W 29 cm

National Coal Mining Museum for England

A Girl in Costume Knitting
Photo credit: Laing Art Gallery

A Girl in Costume Knitting 1893

Ralph Hedley (1848–1913)

Oil on panel

H 40 x W 29.4 cm

Laing Art Gallery

Woman Knitting
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Williamson Art Gallery & Museum

Woman Knitting

Mavis Blackburn (1923–2005)

Oil on canvas

H 70 x W 50.8 cm

Williamson Art Gallery & Museum

Mildred Katherine Pope, Vice-Principal (1929–1934)
© estate of the artist. Photo credit: Somerville College, University of Oxford

Mildred Katherine Pope, Vice-Principal (1929–1934) 1934

Herbert James Gunn (1893–1964)

Oil on canvas

H 75 x W 61 cm

Somerville College, University of Oxford

The Milkmaid
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Penlee House Gallery & Museum

The Milkmaid c.1912

Ruth Simpson (1889–1964)

Oil on canvas

H 92 x W 61.5 cm

Penlee House Gallery & Museum

Auxiliary Fire Service Girl, City Fire Station
Photo credit: Southwark Art Collection

Auxiliary Fire Service Girl, City Fire Station 1940

Ethel Léontine Gabain (1883–1950)

Oil on canvas

H 78.7 x W 66 cm

Southwark Art Collection

The Shepherdess
Photo credit: Walker Art Gallery

The Shepherdess 1885

George Clausen (1852–1944)

Oil on canvas

H 64.7 x W 46 cm

Walker Art Gallery

Mrs Pat Rule, née Detmold, Mayor of Royston (1974–1976 & 1980–1981)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Royston & District Museum & Art Gallery

Mrs Pat Rule, née Detmold, Mayor of Royston (1974–1976 & 1980–1981) 1940s

Ernest Herbert Whydale (1886–1952)

Oil on canvas

H 61 x W 51 cm

Royston & District Museum & Art Gallery