The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928

By Elizabeth Crawford | Go to book overview

D

DACRE, SUSAN ISABEL (1844-1933) Born in Leamington, Warwickshire, educated at a convent school in Salford. Her portrait of her mother, painted c. 1884, is now in Manchester City Art Gallery. From 1858 to 1868 Susan Dacre lived in Paris, attending a school there first as a pupil and then as a governess. In 1869 she spent the winter in Italy, the following year she was caught in Paris during the Commune. She returned to England and lived in Manchester from 1871 until 1874, attending classes at the School of Art, from which she was awarded in 1875 the Queen’s Prize. In 1874, with Annie Robinson (later SWYNNERTON) she went to Rome, where she stayed for two years. From 1877 to 1880, although still based in Manchester, Susan Dacre again studied art in Paris, where she was a fellow student of Marie Bashkirtseff. In 1879 she was one of the founders of and became president of the Manchester Society for Women Painters. After coming back to London she lived there with Annie Robinson from 1880 until 1883. After Annie Robinson’s marriage in 1883 Susan Dacre returned to Manchester. She became friendly with Lydia BECKER, and was a member of the executive committee of the MANCHESTER NATIONAL SOCIETY FOR WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE from 1885 until at least 1895. There are no records for the Society available from then until 1899, by which time she was no longer a member of the committee. However, she signed the claim for women’s suffrage published by the CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL SOCIETY FOR WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE in 1889 and the Women Householders’ Declaration of 1889-90. Helena SWANWICK and C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian, were included in her wide circle of friends in Manchester. C.P. Scott left to Manchester City Art Gallery a painting by Susan Dacre, a view of Assisi from Perugia.

In 1886 Susan Dacre painted the portrait of Lydia Becker that now hangs in Manchester City Art Gallery. Although she is wearing her usual spectacles and well-corseted dark dress, Lydia Becker is portrayed as both “womanly” and business-like. Looking at this portrait one realizes how powerful are the caricatures that were her usual lot. Susan Dacre has captured a rather rueful or quizzical look and softened her dress with a rose corsage and a collar of well-painted lace. When in 1892, after Miss Becker’s death, the NATIONAL UNION OF WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE SOCIETIES, who had bought the painting, attempted to present it to the National Portrait Gallery it was rejected on the grounds that the Gallery could only immortalize those who had been dead for at least ten years, a rule that remained in place until 1969. There is, however, a photograph of the painting in its original state in the NPG archive collection (see p. 44). The final version, now in Manchester, is cut off at the sitter’s waist; the City Gallery would only accept the portrait, when offered it by the NUWSS in 1920, if the painter did so alter it. There was doubtless no slight on Miss Becker, rather a recognition that, unlike the rest of the portrait, the hands were awkwardly painted. Susan Dacre also painted another member of the Manchester National Suffrage Society - her portrait of Agnes POCHIN now hangs at Bodnant. As there is no complete catalogue of Susan Dacre’s work, it has not yet been possible to trace whether she painted portraits of any other suffragists. From 1904 she lived in London. In the Coronation Procession of June 1911, with Annie Swynnerton she headed the section representing Chelsea artists. She exhibited for the last time at the Royal Academy in 1929. In her will, made in 1931, witnessed by Annie Swynnerton, Susan Dacre left her entire estate to a younger fellow artist, Francis Dodd, RA, whom she had befriended in Manchester at the end of the nineteenth century and with whom in 1908 she shared her home in London.

Address: (1889) 31 Sibson Street, Sale; (studio) 10 South King Street, Manchester; (1908) 13 Fitzroy Street, London W; (1931) 20 St John’s Park, Blackheath, London SE.

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The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Introduction ix
  • A 1
  • B 24
  • C 90
  • D 156
  • E 182
  • F 212
  • G 235
  • H 256
  • I 299
  • J 303
  • K 313
  • L 331
  • M 363
  • N 434
  • O 472
  • P 485
  • Q 585
  • R 586
  • S 613
  • T 671
  • U 693
  • V 697
  • W 699
  • Y 763
  • Z 766
  • Appendix - The Radical Liberal Family Networks 767
  • Acknowledgements 769
  • Archival Sources 771
  • Select Bibliography 774
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