Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon(1827-1891), Artist and women's rights activist; benefactor of Girton College, Cambridge
Sitter in 3 portraits
Artist and women’s activist Barbara Bodichon was the illegitimate daughter of radical Liberal MP Benjamin Smith. A private income gave her independence and enabled her to train as a professional artist. As the leader of the progressive Langham Place group, Bodichon led women’s rights campaigns to receive legal recognition. Her efforts contributed to the passing of the Married Women's Property Act of 1870, finally allowing married women to become the legal owners of any money they earned and to inherit property. This was extended to owning, buying and selling property with a second Act passed in 1882. In London she had many creative friends, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Mary Ann Evans ('George Eliot'). She played a major role in founding Girton College, Cambridge. Her paintings were frequently exhibited and admired.
View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.
Artist and sitter interviews
Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.
Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.