Working Against the Grain

BookWorking Against the Grain

Working Against the Grain

Women Sculptors in Britain c.1885 – 1950


June 4th, 2020





This lavishly illustrated book breaks new ground in focusing on some of the many successful professional British women sculptors active during this period. Largely unknown, the few women who have been mentioned in histories of twentieth century British sculpture have been those who adhered to the (masculine) Modernist canon. Organized by theme this book explores and illustrates an unusually large number of and stylistically varied works. The social and cultural contexts in which these women sculptors were working are investigated, revealing how, mostly male, commentators often fixated on their gender at the expense of seriously engaging with their work. A wide variety of sources are used, ranging from contemporary art historical accounts to articles in popular magazines. This book explores contemporary sculptural developments, art school training, exhibiting opportunities, and the writings of influential critics. It also reveals how important photography, film and the written word were in the creation of reputations. Alongside revealing important works and individuals, this book’s originality also lies in its scope, covering diverse sculptural genres such as decorative sculpture and utilitarian objects for the home and garden; portraits and statues; architectural sculpture, war memorials and ecclesiastical work.

"An excellent study using a wide range of sources. Rose's analysis of people and works of art nicely balances art history, social history and political history." Dr Holly Trusted FSA, Senior Curator of Sculpture, Victoria and Albert Museum

'Rose’s study reveals the full scale of women’s involvement in every kind of sculpture from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century – from monumental to decorative, from architectural to ecclesiastical, in a variety of materials [...] a carefully researched, revealing and beautifully illustrated study.'Jaqueline Banerjee, Times Literary Supplement

'Pauline Rose’s Working against the Grain: women Sculptors in Britain is an impressive work, a ‘must’ for all sculpture buffs.’
Peyton Skipwith, The magazine of the Victorian Society

Author Information

Pauline Rose is a specialist in British sculpture. She has published extensively on Henry Moore, including her 2014 book Henry Moore in America: Art, Business and the Special Relationship, essays for the J. Paul Getty Museum, Tate Britain and The Sculpture Journal. However as the discipline of art history tends to prioritise innovation many women and male sculptors remain largely forgotten. This provides an extensive and fascinating 'other story' which Pauline Rose is now linking to the relationship between sculpture and decorative carving through research into the impressive furnishings and sculptural artefacts to be found in West Country churches.