John Opie

Mary Wollstonecraft (Mrs William Godwin)

c.1790–1

In Tate Britain

Artist
John Opie 1761–1807
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 759 x 638 mm
frame: 1005 x 875 x 130 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1884
Reference
N01167

Display caption

Wollstonecraft was a ground-breaking feminist. This portrait shows her looking directly towards us, temporarily distracted from her studies. Such a pose would more typically be used for a male sitter. Women would normally be presented as more passive, often gazing away from the viewer. The painting dates to around the time she published A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). This argued against the idea that women were naturally inferior to men and emphasised the importance of education.

Gallery label, October 2019

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