Sarah Stone (1760–1844) achieved commercial success as an artist at a time when such achievement was usually denied to women. Like many ladies who painted during this era, Miss Stone produced exquisite watercolours. However, she was almost unique in that she enjoyed considerable commercial success; her paintings were actively sought after by connoisseurs and collectors alike. In an age when the eﬀorts of women were often disregarded or even dismissed, she stood out as a woman who mattered. In this way she might be compared to her slightly later contemporary Mary Anning, who contributed so greatly to the science of palaeontology. Like the activities of Miss Anning, Sarah Stone’s watercolours became of enormous historical and scientiﬁc value.
What was it about her that stood out from the rest? Firstly, she was highly skilled and produced beautiful images of birds, mammals, ﬁsh, insects, shells, minerals and ethnological objects when such curiosities were being brought back for the ﬁrst time from far corners of the world. In many cases the images she produced are the only records that remain of the treasures arriving in Britain from highly celebrated exploratory voyages, most famously those of Captain Cook. So her watercolours form a unique record of discoveries that in many respects changed the world.
Secondly, she was remarkably industrious and painted almost every day. She was largely self-taught and began her career at an early age. Although many of her paintings survive, almost all now exist only in museums and galleries from which they will never be released. Only a very few remain in private hands, which is why the emergence of this wonderful collection of 23 watercolours is so surprising. It contains highly detailed paintings of exotic birds that were being seen in Britain for the ﬁrst time. How did she get access to such rare and valued items? When she was still a young woman, she was commissioned by Sir Ashton Lever, owner of the celebrated Leverian Museum, to paint some of his most interesting objects. She fulﬁlled her obligations in stunning fashion; just as well, for the entire Leverian collection was dispersed at an auction in 1806, and many of the items were lost forever.
The remarkable collection of newly discovered watercolours will, of course, only be temporary; however, a more permanent record will live on in the form of this new publication for years to come. Sarah Stone collat.pdf
Sarah Stone cover.pdf