I was looking through my postcard album recently for something else but came across two postcards I bought from an exhibition I visited in York with a couple of work colleagues. It must have been more than twenty five years ago now and I don't remember exactly when but it was an exhibition at the York Art Gallery of the works of Mary Ellen Best.
Mary Ellen Best was born in York in 1809, the daughter of a doctor her family lived on Little Blake Street which is close to York Minster. The family later moved to France but returned to York after her father's death in 1817. She attended boarding school where she was tutored in art by George Haugh. Most middle class women of the time were tutored in painting and drawing but Mary achieved success as an artist both in her home town and further afield.
Her most prolific painting was done between the years of 1830 to 1839. She exhibited in York, London, Leeds and Newcastle and was awarded a silver medal from the London Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture commerce (now the Royal Society of Arts) for the best original painting in oil or watercolour
by persons under the age of twenty one.
She mostly painted interiors and domestic scenes in her own home and the houses of others. The painting above shows Mary Ellen herself at her work desk in her home in Castlegate, York. She was also much in demand, mostly by women, for portraits. It is thought that she painted around 1,500 paintings in total. In 1840 she married Johann Anton Philip Sarg and moved to Germany. Her painting career seemed to end in about 1851 when Mary inherited quite a lot of money but it is not really known why she did give up painting.
I remember being fascinated with the detail in the paintings. The way furniture was laid out, the colours, the fabrics and wall coverings.
Mary Ellen Best died in Darmstadt in Germany in 1891.
Here is a - link - to more of her paintings.
Linking with Barbara at Coastal Ripples for Paint Monthly
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