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Mary Lowndes

Mary Lowndes (1856–1929)[nb 1] 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).

Mary Lowndes
Mary Lowndes.jpg
Mary Lowndes by Arthur James Langton
Born 1856
Dorset, England
Died 1929
Buxted, East Sussex, England
Education Slade School of Fine Art


Personal lifeEdit

Lowndes was born in 1857, the daughter of the rector of St Mary's Church, Sturminster Newton, Dorset.[1][2][3]

Her companion was Barbara Forbes, the secretary of the Artists' Suffrage League founded by Lowndes.[2]

She died in 1929 and was buried in Buxted, East Sussex, England.[1] She left Forbes a sum of money, all her pictures, prints, cartoons, studio effects and her shares in the Englishwoman Ltd.[2]


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.[1]

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.[2]

In 1897, with the then foreman of the firm, Alfred J. Drury, she founded Lowndes & Drury at 35 Park Walk, Chelsea.[2] 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.[4]

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.[1]

Suffragette movementEdit

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.[2]

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.[2][5]

Artwork by Lowndes and the League may be seen at The Women's Library at the Library of the London School of Economics.[5][6] 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.[5]

Lowndes was also active in the national Suffragette movement, including her leadership on the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies executive committee.[7]

She was a member of the committee of the Englishwoman and contributed regularly to the magazine.[2]

Stained glassEdit

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



  1. ^ Some sources put her birth in 1857.


  1. ^ a b c d Architects and Artists L: Lowndes and Drury. Archived 29 March 2013 at WebCite Sussex Parish Churches. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Crawford, Elizabeth (2003). The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928. Routledge. p. 358. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Mary Lowndes (1857-1929)". Stained Glass in Wales. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  4. ^ The Glass House, Hammersmith and Fulham. British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  5. ^ a b c 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.
  6. ^ Home. London School of Economics. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  7. ^ Lago, Mary. (1995). Christiana Herringham and the Edwardian Art Scene. University of Missouri Press. p. 287 ISBN 0826210244
  8. ^ "Suffragette's chapel in Historic England's queer histories". The Times. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 

Further readingEdit

  • M. Lowndes: Banners and Banner-Making, Appendix 5 in The Spectacle of Women by Lisa Tickner, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-80245-9 March 1988.
  • Gerda Breuer and Julia Meer: Women in Graphic Design, Jovis/Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86859-153-8, p. 505.