Lady Mary Lowther

Ullswater, Dunmallet and Pooley Bridge, with the distant rocks from Bow Bank by Lady Mary Lowther 1765With kind permission of The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere

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More about Lady Mary Lowther

1738 - 1824

Lady Mary was the eldest daughter of the third Earl of Bute, a distinguished patron of the arts but an unpopular secretary of state in the early 1760s, She married Sir James Lowther (1736-1802), the richest land-owner in the north-west of England, in 1761. The marriage was unhappy and childless and before the end of the 1770s the couple had decided to live apart. However, occasional later glimpses of Lady Mary in Joseph Farington’s Diary show that she was on good terms with other members of the Lowther family after his death. She retired to Fulham, then a village on the edge of London, and is buried there, in All Saints’ church.

As the daughter of an earl, from an early age Lady Mary would have received drawing lessons from a private tutor in the family homes on the island of Bute and in London. 

As the wife of a baronet, virtually imprisoned in the solitude of Lowther Hall, she turned to painting as an occupation and diversion. Lady Mary made excursions to the surrounding area with her sketchbooks, eventually producing over ninety finished watercolours in 1765-6, of which the Wordsworth Trust owns nine. Her subjects varied from Lowther Hall itself, local antiquities, rivers, cascades and pastoral scenes to more ambitious prospects, including extensive views of Ullswater and an ambitious panoramic view over Windermere. All belong to the strictly topographical tradition and are executed with infinite pains, in the narrow range of tints that were then available.