A self-portrait by Anne Killigrew (1660-85) from the Berkeley Will Trust, Berkeley Castle. Killigrew’s death prompted the then Poet Laureate John Dryden to write: "Still with a greater blaze she shone, And her bright soul broke out on ev'ry side.”

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Bright Souls: The Forgotten Story of Britain’s First Female Artists, features work by Joan Carlile (1600-79), Mary Beale (1633-99) and Anne Killigrew (1660-85) loaned from both museums and private collections. It is curated by art historian and Lyon & Turnbull consultant Dr Bendor Grosvenor and takes place in its London office on Connaught Street from June 24-July 6.

The stories of Carlile, Beale and Killigrew have faded from view in British art history, not least because many of their works were later attributed to male artists such as Sir Peter Lely. But, in an age when women had few career options, and even fewer rights, all three artists were well known to contemporaries: Carlile as the first professional female British artist; Beale as the most successful; and Killigrew, dying of smallpox at the age of just 25, as the most tragic.

The exhibition, the first devoted to the trio, will include self-portraits of each of the artists and a number of hitherto lost works.  Grosvenor said: “It’s such a shame these artists have been largely ignored by art history, not least because they were so good. For too long, our view of British art in the 17th century has been dominated by male artists - it’s time to change that misconception.” 

A promotional video for the show can be viewed here: