"Benson, take those things away," said he, pointing to the easel, canvas, and stretchers, "and tell the housemaid she may kindle the fire with them; your mistress won't want them any more."
|A hobby earning extra income.
So, how did the dozens upon dozens of female artists of the era learn their trade and come to ply their skills? Well, fortunately, not all Victorian husbands were as intolerant as Helen's was. In quite a few cases, they actually welcomed the extra income...theirs to oversee of course...though they usually considered their wives as mere amateurs at their art, amusing themselves between episodes of childbearing, with a hobby that might be somewhat profitable at times. In other cases, they were widows supporting themselves and small children through their labors; and in a few other cases, they were forthright women who had never married, or had divorced their husbands (or been divorced by them) now working to make ends meet at whatever trade they might possess...barely a step above prostitutes, in other words.
|Henrietta Ward, 1909. She lived to be 92.
|The Secret Message, 1873, Henrietta Ward