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Louisa Fennell: Blue plaque to remember Wakefield artist

HONOUR: Louisa Fennell, watercolour artist.
HONOUR: Louisa Fennell, watercolour artist.
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Heritage chiefs have announced a blue plaque will be unveiled to celebrate the work of an award-winning Wakefield artist who died in 1930.

The plaque dedicated to Louisa Fennell will be revealed at The Hepworth gallery in the city in September.

It comes as the Forgotten Women of Wakefield Project – a group researching the extraordinary lives of women from the district’s past – share her story after delving into the history books.

Volunteer researcher for the group Nicky Harley said: “One of the greatest female watercolour artists of the last century, Louisa Fennell’s works provide a magical snapshot of the Victoria era. Her success is measured in her treasured works which now languish in the vaults of the Hepworth Gallery.”

Louisa had her first art lesson at the age of 13, and five years later won her first accolade at the 1865 Wakefield Industrial and Art Exhibition. Aged 29, she won a place at the Penzance Art School, whose famed alumni include Wakefield sculptor Barbara Hepworth.

Two months later, she exhibited for the first time at the Royal Society of British Artists, a group so exclusive at the time that it had only 50 members, the most distinguished of artists, the Forgotten Women researchers said.

Her blue plaque, supported by Wakefield Civic Society, will be unveiled on September 8.

It is the second blue plaque the group, who hope to achieve parity in the number of honours for men and women in the city, have helped to obtain and the first for them in the city centre area itself.