Mary Lowndes (1856–1929)#tag:ref|Some sources put her birth in 1857.|group=nb was a British stained-glass artist who co-founded Lowndes and Drury, the partnership that built The Glass House studio, Fulham. She was also a poster artist, in particular connected with her active participation in the suffragette movement. Lowndes was a leading light in the Arts and Crafts movement and chair of the Artists' Suffrage League (ASL).

Personal life

Lowndes was born in 1857, the daughter of the rector of St Mary's Church, Sturminster Newton, Dorset.<ref name=Sussex>[ ''Architects and Artists L: Lowndes and Drury''.] webarchive|url= |date=29 March 2013 Sussex Parish Churches. Retrieved 10 September 2012.</ref><ref name="Crawford" /><ref name="Stained Glass in Wales">cite web|title=Mary Lowndes (1857-1929)|url=|website=Stained Glass in Wales|accessdate=9 January 2018</ref>

Her companion was Barbara Forbes, the secretary of the Artists' Suffrage League founded by Lowndes.<ref name="Crawford">cite book|last1=Crawford|first1=Elizabeth|title=The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928|date=2003|publisher=Routledge|page=358|url=|accessdate=9 January 2018</ref>

She died in 1929 and was buried in Buxted, East Sussex, England.<ref name=Sussex/> She left Forbes a sum of money, all her pictures, prints, cartoons, studio effects and her shares in the Englishwoman Ltd.<ref name="Crawford" />


Lowndes studied art in London at the Slade School of Fine Art. After school she designed stained glass works, arranged for her own commissions, and had the works made by James Powell and Sons. Until he started his own studio, Lowndes did some work with Powell's head stained glass designer Henry Holiday. She then began work in Southwark as a stained glass artist for Britton and Gilson, a firm which developed Norman Glass, a slab glass that was used by Christopher Whall and his followers.<ref name=Sussex/>

Between 1884 and 1888 she exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists, the Society of Women Artists, Manchester City Art Galley and the Walker Art Gallery.<ref name="Crawford" />

In 1897, with the then foreman of the firm, Alfred J. Drury, she founded Lowndes & Drury at 35 Park Walk, Chelsea.<ref name="Crawford" /> In 1906 they founded the Glass House in Lettice Street, Fulham. The building at 9, 10, 11 and 12 Lettice Street was established as a stained-glass studio for works commissioned by Lowndes and Drury and for use by independent artists. It was a purpose-built stained-glass studio and workshop designed by Christopher Whall and Alfred Drury.<ref name=BLB>[ ''The Glass House, Hammersmith and Fulham.''] British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 10 September 2012.</ref>

Lowndes designed, coloured and created Arts and Crafts stained-glass works. She taught many female stained-glass designers and artists, such as Wilhelmina Geddes. The Glass House attracted many artists, like Geddes, Whall, Robert Anning Bell and more. The artists could leverage the skills of other artists at the studio and yet obtain their own commissions. Lowndes' partner, Alfred Drury, particularly focused on the creation of stained-glass pieces. Together they commissioned for design, painting and creation projects.<ref name=Sussex/>

Suffragette movement

thumb|left|A banner produced by Lowndes for the ASL, celebrating the prison reformer [[Elizabeth Fry]]

In 1899 Mary Lowndes attended the International Congress of Women in London.<ref name="Crawford" />

In January 1907, Lowndes established The Artists' Suffrage League (ASL) to create dramatic posters, postcards, Christmas cards, and banners for suffrage events. She became its chair and Forbes, her companion, was the secretary.<ref name="Crawford" /><ref name=Tickner>Lisa Tickner "Banners and Banner-Making". In Vanessa R. Schwartz and Jeannene M. Przyblyski, "The Nineteenth Century Visual Culture Reader". Routledge, 2004, London and New York.</ref>

Artwork by Lowndes and the League may be seen at The Women's Library at the Library of the London School of Economics.<ref name=Tickner/>[1] Even underwear in suffragette colours appeared in stores. Between 1903 and 1914 the methods used by the women's suffrage movement began to change and they began to engage in public demonstrations and other propaganda activities. Lowndes' training as a stained-glass designer encouraged the use of bold shapes and a love of full, rich colours, using striking combinations of green and blue, magenta and orange.<ref name=Tickner/>

Lowndes was also active in the national Suffragette movement, including her leadership on the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies executive committee.<ref name=Lago>Lago, Mary. (1995). ''Christiana Herringham and the Edwardian Art Scene.'' University of Missouri Press. p. 287 ISBN|0826210244</ref>

She was a member of the committee of the ''Englishwoman'' and contributed regularly to the magazine.<ref name="Crawford" />

Stained glass

The following is a partial list of her works, including those as part of the Lowndes and Drury partnership.


<gallery mode="packed">
File:The church of SS Peter and Paul in Shropham - stained glass - - 1761429.jpg|Mary Lowndes, Church of SS Peter and Paul in Shropham, an early work
File:The church of SS Peter and Paul in Shropham - glass by M Lowndes - - 1761436.jpg|Mary Lowndes, Church of SS Peter and Paul in Shropham, an early work
File:Stained glass Aesthetic.jpg|Lowndes & Drury, ''English stained glass'', 1912, Taplow, Buckinghamshire
File:She hath done what she could.jpg|Lowndes & Drury, ''She hath done what she could'', 1901, St Peter's Church, Henfield, West Sussex





Further reading

British and Irish stained glass

Category/Alumni of the Slade School of Art
Category/English suffragists
Category/English stained glass artists and manufacturers
Category/1856 births
Category/1929 deaths
Category/Art Nouveau designers
Category/People from Dorset


  1. ^ [ Home.] London School of Economics. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  2. ^ cite web|title=Suffragette’s chapel in Historic England’s queer histories|url=|website=The Times|accessdate=9 January 2018

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