Tate announces female artist first with 17th-Century portrait

Portrait of an Unknown Lady by Joan CarlileImage copyright

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Carlile’s portrait is the earliest work by a female artist in Tate’s collection

A 17th Century portrait by the first woman in Britain thought to work as a painter has been acquired by the Tate.

Joan Carlile’s Portrait of an Unknown Lady is the earliest work by a female artist to enter the Tate’s collection.

Other new acquisitions include 1882’s Le Passeur (The Ferry) by William Stott of Oldham, described as “an exceptional work of early British impressionism”.

Mark Wallinger has also donated State Britain, a Turner Prize-winning replica of Brian Haw’s anti-war protest camp.

The British artist’s reconstruction of Haw’s one-man protest in Parliament Square won the £25,000 award in 2007.

According to the Tate, Carlile was the first woman in Britain thought to work as a professional portrait painter in oil.

Portrait of an Unknown Lady, painted between 1650 and 1655, is one of a small number of her surviving works.

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Le Passeur by William Stott of Oldham is 1.8 metres long

Stott’s painting, widely regarded as his crowning achievement, depicts two girls watching a ferryman at dusk.

The work will be displayed at Tate Britain in April 2017 before going on tour to three other UK galleries.

“We have the greatest collection of British art in the world and it gets better ever year,” said Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson.

Earlier this month it was announced that Sir Nicholas Serota is to step down as director of the Tate galleries next year. He will become chairman of Arts Council England.

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