Agnes Bain Herbert was a ‘Glasgow Girl’ female artist of the 1920’s. Among her fellow Glasgow Girls who were largely traditional artists (including Margaret and Frances MacDonald, Jessie M. King, Helen Paxton Brown, Jessie Wylie Newbery, and Bessie MacNicol), Agnes Bain Herbert championed ceramic painting. Artists including May Wilson and Eliza Bell, among others, continued the tradition of ceramic artistry into the 1940s and 1950s by hand painting various items with floral patterns.
The period 1885–1920 brought a change in art, often attributed to Francis Henry Newbery, head of Glasgow School of Art. She established an environment in which women could flourish, both as students and as teachers. Women benefited from the new Glasgow Society of Lady Artists (founded 1882) which offered a place for women artists to meet and also had exhibition space. The GSA students also engaged in social movements and made important contributions to women’s suffrage.
The name ‘Glasgow Girls’ emerged much later. In the 1960s there was an attempt to give due attention to the work of the city’s women artists to balance the plentiful discussion of the Glasgow Boys. It is thought that the then head of the Scottish Arts Council William Buchanan was the first to use the name in the catalogue for a 1968 Glasgow Boys exhibition.
On International Women’s Day, McTear’s looks to women who made an important and lasting impact on their field. Agnes Bain Herbert is one such artist. The upcoming British & Continental Ceramics & Glass auction on Thursday 15 March features a tea service of her making.