posted on 2023-06-07, 15:35authored byAlexandra Loske
The aim of this paper was to evaluate the work of Mary Gartside, a British female flower painter, art teacher and colour theorist, active in London between 1781 and 1809. Gartside's colour theory was published privately in the guise of a traditional water colouring manual. Until well into the twentieth century, she remained the only woman known to have published a theory of colour. In chronological and intellectual terms Gartside can cautiously be regarded an exemplary link between Moses Harris and J.W. von Goethe. This paper takes a closer look at her colour theory in relation to earlier theorists she credits in her writing. It also suggests that certain elements of her theory may have pre-dated some of Goethe's ideas, thus being an indicator of changing attitudes to colour in the intellectual and artistic scene of Europe. Gartside's case is particularly interesting because it highlights gender issues with regard to publishing, self-promotion and the intellectual activity of women artists in the early nineteenth century.
In this version for Sussex Research Online I have used my own pictures. In the printed journal these were replaced with professional images taken by the photographer Dominic Tschudin of the Royal College of Art Colour Reference Library. The image of Turner's painting "Light and Shade" from the Tate collection cannot be shown here, as the copyright only extends to the printed version. I have inserted a link to the Tate online collection, where the image can be viewed.