Exhibit: Female artist’s role in Staithes Group work

A Spring Bouquet, by Hannah Mayor.
A Spring Bouquet, by Hannah Mayor.
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The novelty of a female artist being represented in a historical collection is the focus of this week’s exhibit, which you can see at Pannett Art Gallery in Whitby.

Hannah Mayor, nee Hoyland, who eloped with her husband-to-be due to her father’s disapproval of him being a penniless artist, was a founder member of the renowned Staithes Group of Artists.

Pannett Art Gallery in Whitby.
picture: Duncan Atkins

Pannett Art Gallery in Whitby. picture: Duncan Atkins

The development of the railway was a major factor in the expansion of tourism in this area.

It also made the area much more accessible to artists, many of whom were attracted to the picturesque fishing industry and coastal scenes.

This led to the development of the Staithes Group of Artists which was officially established in 1901.

They became part of the community, creating employment through their need for lodgings, models and artist studios, and quickly became an important part of the local economy.

A few relationships and marriages developed in this creative environment, including Isa (Thompson) and Robert Jobling, Laura (Johnson) and Harrold Knight and the romantic but tragic story of Fred and Hannah Mayor (nee Hoyland).

Hannah Hoyland was born in Dore, near Sheffield, on 9 January 1871.

After leaving Sheffield High School she studied in London, at the Royal Female School of Art.

It was while she attended Westminster School of Art that a Royal visit resulted in a sale of a flower picture to Queen Victoria.

Hannah was a founder member of the Staithes Art Club, as was her future husband Fred Mayor.

Hannah and Fred fell in love but Hannah’s father, a wealthy Sheffield brush manufacturer, disapproved of the liaison and, despite the couple both being in their 30s, forbade her to marry a penniless artist.

They eloped, to marry in London, and then went to live in France having been lent ten pounds by Hannah’s sympathetic aunt, the actress Edith Wynne Mathison, where they remained until 1908.

During their time in France they were visited by several other artists from the group.

The influence of the French Impressionists can be seen in the techniques used by many of the Staithes Group of Artists. When they returned to England they lived in London.

Fred, who suffered from severe asthma, underwent a simple operation intended to make him fit for military service as a WW1 war artist.

Sadly, things went wrong and because of the shortage of doctors and nurses due to the pressure of nursing the war wounded there was no-one to help him.

He died, January 1916 with Hannah at his bedside.

Eventually Hannah moved to Surrey where she died at Leigh, near Reigate, on November 2, 1947, age 76.

Hannah’s painting, A Spring Bouquet, can be seen in the Staithes Gallery at the Pannett Art Gallery.

The gallery is now open 9.30am to 4.30pm Tuesday to Saturday, 9.30 am to 4pm on Sunday, closed Mondays.

Last admission is half an hour before closing and admission is free.