VERA WILLOUGHBY (1870-1939)
SYMBOLISM (founded 1886)
Susanna and the Elders (United Kingdom, c.1910)
Oil on panel
Signed with monogram
Description / Expertise
Vera Willoughby’s life appears to be as mysterious as her paintings. Those paintings that she did exhibit were shown through the International Society. The International Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers was founded by Whistler in 1898. The aim of the Society was the: organisation in London of Exhibitions of the finest Art of the time... the non-recognition of nationality in Art, and the hanging and placing of works irrespective of such consideration.(1) Whistler was the Society’s first President and James Lavery his deputy. Other artists involved in its organization included Alfred Gilbert, Frederick Sandys, Arthur Melville, William Rothenstein, Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon.
Ultimately The International Society was an alternative to the confines of the Royal Academy where: the majority of the pictures exhibited there impress you as though they were the crowded-out ones of past centuries which have been magically preserved at the bottom of the sea, floated up on the shores of England and exhibited for the punishment of the people.(2)
The Society survived near bankruptcy early on to become a focal point for artists from Britain, America, France, Germany and Scandinavia and they promoted British art in places as far afield as Dusseldorf, Budapest, Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis.
1. E.R. & J. Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, Volume II, London 1908, page 217.
2. George Sauter, The International Society, The Studio, Volume 14, 1898, page 120.