Victorian watercolorist Ella Mary Du Cane: A study in resistance and compliance of gender stereotypes, the professional art world, Orientalism, and the interpretation of Japanese gardens for British society

by Redfoot, Alison, M.A., CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, LONG BEACH, 2011, 111 pages; 1507681


This is the first study of artist Ella Mary Du Cane (1874-1943), a successful watercolor painter of aristocratic homes and gardens in Great Britain and Europe. Her later career as a commercial illustrator emerged from the development of a new three-color printing process that enabled affordable and accurate reproduction of color works. Du Cane's paintings of the gardens of Japan for the London travel book publisher A&C Black followed the traditions of British topographers and landscape artists and, thus, complicate a solely Orientalist interpretation. Her images served as templates for British gardeners eager to include Japanese plants and design elements in their gardens that provided refuge from modern industrialization. Du Cane exemplified the new Victorian womanhood—independent, career-minded, and adventurous—demonstrating freedoms enjoyed by creative and ambitious women operating within the patriarchal system that defined the era.

AdviserKendall H. Brown
Source TypeThesis
SubjectsBiographies; Art history
Publication Number1507681

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