Annie   Feray   Mutrie

(6 March 1826 - 28 September 1893)

Younger sister of Miss M. D. Mutrie, was born at Ardwick, and also studied at the Manchester School of Design and under George Wallis. She first exhibited at the Royal Academy:
1851, 'Fruit'
1852, 'Fruit and Flowers,' and 'Flowers'
She removed with her sister to London in 1854, and
1855, exhibited 'Azaleas' and 'Orchids,' at the Royal Academy, which were highly praised by John Ruskin for their 'very lovely, pure, and yet unobtrusive colour.'

She exhibited almost annually until 1882, some of her best works being:
'Roses' and 'Orchids' in 1856
'Autumn Flowers' in 1857
'Reynard's Glove' in 1858
'Where the Bee sucks' in 1860
'York and Lancaster' in 1861
'Autumn' in 1863
'The Balcony' in 1871
'My First Bouquet' in 1874
'Farewell, Summer,' in 1875
'The Evening Primrose' in 1876, and
'Wild Flowers of South America' in 1877.

She also exhibited at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857, at the British Institution, and elsewhere. A 'Group of Cactus,' etc., is in the South Kensington Museum. She died at 26 Lower Rock Gardens, Brighton, and was interred in Brompton cemetery.

[Athenæum, 1886, i. 75, 1893 ii. 496; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1851-82; Catalogue of the National Gallery of British Art at South Kensington, 1893; Information from Frederick Bower, esq.; Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 39, by Robert Edmund Graves.

35. Azaleas. (Miss A. F. Mutrie.1)
There are two other works by this artist in the rooms, Nos. 304 ["Primula and Rhododendron"] and 306 ["Orchids"]. It would be well to examine them at once in succession, lest they should afterwards be passed carelessly when the mind has been interested by pictures of higher aim; for all these flower paintings are remarkable for very lovely, pure, and yet unobtrusive colour -- perfectly tender, and yet luscious -- (note the purple rose leaves especially), and a richness of petal texture that seems absolutely scented. The arrangement is always graceful -- the backgrounds sometimes too faint. I wish this very accomplished artist would paint some banks of flowers in wild country, just as they grow, as she appears slightly in danger of falling into too artificial methods of grouping.

68. El Paseo, the property of Her Majesty the Queen. (.7. Phillip?)

1 - [Miss Annie Feray Mutrie (1826-1893) studied at the Manchester School of Design, then under the direction of George Wallis. She first exhibited at the Academy in 1851. She was younger sister of Miss M. D. Mutrie.]

145. Geraniums. (Miss Mutrie *)

146. Roses. (Miss A. F. Mutrie.)

I cannot say more of the work of the two Misses Mutrie than I have said already. It is nearly as good as simple flower-painting can be; the only bettering it is capable of would be by more able composition, or by the selection, for its subject, of flowers growing naturally. Why not a roadside bank of violets? 335 and 342 are the best examples, by these artists, in this exhibition.

Annie Feray Mutrie and Martha Darley Mutrie. Both born in Manchester, the girls studied under George Wallis at the Manchester School of Design. Both sisters later moved to London.

Annie Feray Mutrie, produced mainly flower and fruit subjects in a body of work praised by Ruskin. She spent time in Italy. Exhibited extensively, including the Royal Academy (1851-1882),
Royal Scottish Academy (1848-1856),
Royal Hibernian Academy (1859-1878),
Royal Glasgow Institute (1861-1881),
British Institution (1855-1859), and possibly
Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (*states only "Miss Mutrie", who may have been Martha.) Exhibited works included:
"Margaret's Corner", and
"From the Riviera".

Martha   Darley   Mutrie

(26 August 1824 - 30 December 1885)

Flower-painter, elder daughter of Robert Mutrie, a native of Rothesay in Bute, who had settled in Manchester in the cotton trade, was born at Ardwick, then a suburb of Manchester. She studied from 1844 to 1846, in the private classes of the Manchester School of Design, then under the direction of George Wallis, and afterwards in his private art school. She exhibited for some years at the Royal Manchester Institution, and in 1853, sent her first contribution, 'Fruit,' to the exhibition of the Royal Academy. In 1854, she settled in London, and sent a picture of 'Spring Flowers' to the Royal Academy, where she afterwards exhibited annually until 1878. Her pictures of 'Geraniums' and 'Primulas' in the exhibition of 1856, attracted the notice of John Ruskin, who mentioned them with praise in his Notes on some of the Principal Pictures in the Royal Academy. She also contributed to the Art Treasures Exhibition held at Manchester in 1857, and to several international exhibitions, both at home and abroad. A 'Group of Camellias' is in the South Kensington Museum. She died at 36 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington, and was buried in Brompton cemetery.

Martha Darley Mutrie. Like Annie, Martha was a fruit and flower painter. Also, like Annie, she exhibited widely, including at the Royal Academy (1853-1878), the Royal Scottish Academy (1848-1855), the Royal Glasgow Institutee (1859). Exhibited works included: "Primula and Rhododendron", "Garden Flowers", "Fungus", and "Margaret's Knitting".

[Miss Martha Darley Mutrie (1824-1885) studied at the Manchester School of Design, then under George Wallis, and first exhibited at the Academy in 1853. She was elder sister of Miss A. F. Mutrie. There are examples of the work of both sisters in the Victoria and Albert (South Kensington) Museum.]

[335. "Orchids," by Miss A. F. Mutrie. 342. "Primulas," by Miss Mutrie.]

The Works of John Ruskin, Volume 14, Acaademy Notes, John Ruskin, 1855. G. Allen, 1904


Martha Darley Mutrie and Annie Feray Mutrie are natives of Manchester. They first exhibited fruit and flower pieces at the Royal Academy in 1851 and 1853. The work of the younger sister exhibited in 1851, was bought by the late Mr Bicknell for about twenty pounds, and re-sold at the sale of his collection in 1863, for seventy guineas. The two painters settled in London in 1854, and have continued to exhibit annually, the younger sister showing 'an apparent preference for orchids and roses.' (Ottley.) These ladies rank as excellent fruit and flower painters. A fault has been found with their subjects -- that they are too often cultivated flowers, and that whether garden or wild flowers, they are apt to be arranged arbitrarily and artificially -- not as nature planted them. Invidious critics, with a special fondness for foreign studies, have taken occasion in exalting the white stocks and the lilac of M. Fantin, to decry the roses of the Misses Mutrie, forgetting that beauty, like wisdom, is justified in all her children, -- that the same earth which brings forth lilies and violets, brings forth peonies, and what the Germans call appropriately 'Turkish lilies' -- tulips.

Modern Painters and Their Paintings: For the Use of Schools and Learners in Art. Sarah Tytler, Roberts Brothers, 1874 - Painters

Annie Feray Mutrie along with her elder sister, Martha Darley Mutrie (1825-1885), were considered the foremost British flower-painters in oil of their day. Both sisters were born in Manchester and studied at the Manchester School of Design under George Wallis.

Their contributions to the Royal Academy exhibitions began in the early 1850s and in 1854, Annie and her sister moved to London. In the following year, Annie’s exhibit at the Royal Academy attracted the notice of John Ruskin who wrote: “… all these flower paintings are remarkable for very lovely, pure, and yet unobtrusive colour -- perfectly tender and yet luscious, and a richness of petal texture that seems absolutely scented” (J. Ruskin: Academy Notes, 1855). Ruskin’s praise is all the more flattering given his famous scepticism regarding the abilities of female artists. Rarely mentioning paintings by women in the Notes at all, he mentions Annie on several occasions and owned two paintings by the sisters. Their work was also bought by fellow artists Augustus Egg, Thomas Creswick, F. R. Lee and J. B. Pyne and was held in high esteem by leading collectors of contemporary art. In 1858, the Athenaeum dubbed Martha “The Rosa Bonheur of Azaleas”.

The importance of the sisters to their contemporaries is best reflected by the fact that they were among the first women nominated as Royal Academicians (Martha in 1868 and 1869, and Annie in 1870), nominations which were made despite the fact that the Academy controversially practised a ban on female membership at the time. Perhaps it was his appreciation of the Mutrie sisters that led Ruskin eventually to change his mind about women artists: “For a long time I used to say… that, except in a graceful and minor way, women could not paint or draw. I am beginning lately to bow myself to the much more delightful conviction that nobody else can”. (Cook and Wedderburn (eds.) Life and letters and complete works of John Ruskin, (1903) vol. 33, p. 280). Annie Mutrie died in Brighton in 1893. Her work is represented in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston; the Russell-Cotes Museum and Art Gallery, Bournemouth; and the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery.

View artist's work: Annie Feray Mutrie (1826-1893) [new window view]

View artist's work: Martha Darley Mutrie (1824-1885) [new window view]