The Evening Standard
Portraits at new Annie Kevans exhibition honour the art of motherhood
by Louise Jury, Chief Arts Correspondent
12 May 2014
Inspiration: 16th century Italian artist Lavinia Fontana, who had 11 children, in a portrait by Annie Kevans, left
Painter Annie Kevans has produced an entire exhibition of portraits of female artists from the past after she was left infuriated at being asked whether she would return to work after having a child.
Kevans, 41, whose career began in 2004 when Charles Saatchi bought her entire degree show, said she had “lots of comments like “do you think you’ll go back to painting?” after the arrival of her daughter, Georgia, now two. “It kept making me angry. Would anyone ask that of any other profession or of a male artist?”
But the question prompted her to research others who had combined art with motherhood.
She discovered astonishing examples, including the 16th century Italian Lavinia Fontana, who had 11 children, and the 19th century American Lilly Martin Spencer, who had 13, seven of whom survived — and a husband dedicated to supporting her work. Kevans, who shares childcare with her husband Will, an animator and cartoonist, at home in Clapton, said: “I never studied art history.
“But I started finding amazing women from the 16th and 17th centuries and it was a real surprise that these women had really successful careers.”
She has produced 30 women artist portraits to date, all based on real images, often self-portraits.