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A spotlight on outstanding women artists and their works in the Royal Collection

Mary Knowles (1733-1807)

Needlework picture 1779

RCIN 11912

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The renowned Quaker intellectual Mary Knowles was a leading protagonist for the feminist viewpoint in the cultural life of England during the late eighteenth century. She was a long-standing friend of Queen Charlotte and an accomplished needlewoman. Her self-portrait in needlework captures an image of her at work on a copy of Johan Zoffany’s portrait of George III, a commission that came from the Queen and which is still in the Royal Collection today. Mary Knowles used a technique sometimes known as ‘needle painting’, composed of irregular satin stitches, combined with long and short stitches to give the impression of brushstrokes.