Louise Jane Jopling (née Goode, later Rowe)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Louise Jane Jopling (née Goode, later Rowe)

by Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Bt
oil on canvas, 1879
48 7/8 in. x 30 1/8 in. (1240 mm x 765 mm) overall
Purchased with help from the Art Fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, 2002
Primary Collection
NPG 6612

On display in Room 19 on Floor 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Bt (1829-1896), Painter and President of the Royal Academy; ex-officio Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. Artist or producer associated with 43 portraits, Sitter in 76 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Pioneering Women, p. 73 Read entry

    Louise Jane Jopling (1843-1933), portrait-genre painter, teacher and suffragist, was prominent in an era when women in the arts were often dismissed with the label ‘amateurism’. In 1887, she established a painting school for women (where her friend James McNeill Whistler distributed prizes). She also published a book of art instruction. Her essay ‘On the Education of the Artistic Faculty’ (1903) supported women’s education on equal terms with men. A member of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage, she pushed for women to be allowed to work from nude models (not required to sketch strategically draped men). One of the first women admitted to the Royal Society of British Artists (in 1901), she exhibited alongside men. Nonetheless, she felt frustrated at the limitations of being a woman in a man’s world, saying: ‘I hate being a woman … Women never do anything’, feelings she expanded on further in her forthright memoir, Twenty Years of My Life: 1867-87.

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  • 100 Fashion Icons, p. 80
  • Edited by Rab MacGibbon and Tanya Bentley, Icons and Identities, 2021, p. 63
  • Funnell, Peter (introduction); Marsh, Jan, A Guide to Victorian and Edwardian Portraits, 2011, p. 17 Read entry

    Louise Jopling (1843-1933) studied art in Paris in the mid-1860s and supported her family through painting and illustration after the collapse of her first marriage. In 1874 she married the watercolourist Joseph Jopling. She exhibited portraits and subject paintings at the Paris Salon from 1869, the Royal Academy from 1871 and the Grosvenor Gallery from its founding in 1877. Jopling was a central figure in artistic and literary circles of the period and a close friend of her fellow painters Whistler and Millais, who produced this portrait of her. She established her own art school to train women painters in 1887 and was a supporter of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage.

  • Funnell, Peter; Warner, Malcolm, Millais: Portraits, 1999 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 19 February to 6 June 1999), p. 187
  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 187
  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 158 Read entry

    Louise Jopling was a portrait painter and personal friend of John Everett Millais (1829–96) and his family. This picture was painted for her husband Joseph Jopling, in Millais’s London studio at Palace Gate, Kensington. In the late 1870s Millais’s portrait practice was thriving; his recent subjects included Thomas Carlyle, Lillie Langtry and William Ewart Gladstone. The portrait was painted quickly, requiring just five short sittings, and as Jopling noted in her autobiography, Twenty Years of my Life, 1867 to 1887 (1925): ‘We had great discussions as to what I should wear. I had at that time a dress that was universally admired. It was black, with coloured flowers embroidered on it. It was made in Paris’. The portrait exemplifies the fluency of Millais’s later style and displays a strong sense of design. It was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1880, where James McNeill Whistler declared it ‘superb’.

Events of 1879back to top

Current affairs

Women's education continues to grow, with the founding of women's colleges in Oxford. Somerville College took its name from the late Scottish scientific writer Mary Somerville. Lady Margaret Hall was founded by Elizabeth Wordsworth, great niece of the poet, and named after Margaret Beaufort, a medieval noblewoman and mother of Henry VII.

Art and science

Edison invents the first practical electric light bulb.
The first prehistoric paintings, dating back 14,000 years, are discovered in the Altamira caves in Northern Spain when a young girl notices paintings of bison on the ceilings.
The French actress Sarah Bernhardt, already acclaimed for roles in plays such as Racine's Phèdre and Victor Hugo's Hernani, celebrates a successful season at London's Gaiety Theatre.


Anglo-Zulu war fought between British forces and the Zulus, after disputes between the Boers and Zulu leader Cetshywayo over the Utrecht border attracted British intervention. The British victory marked the end of the independent Zulu nation, although the Zulu's initial victory at Isandhlwana was a major surprise. The Battle of Rorke's Drift was dramatised in the film Zulu, starring Michael Caine, in 1964.

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