The senses were a favourite subject for 17th-century artists, represented in a fairly literal manner. Following this tradition, Swynnerton’s angel, who appears on earth, relies on her sight to find heaven. The subject of 'The Sense of Sight', an angel overwhelmed at the wonder of what they can see, perhaps relates to the importance of sight to an artist and the joy of the visual world. Her rapturous expression suggests not merely sight but also a spiritual vision and the realistic painting of flesh and face contrasts with the figure’s spirituality.


  • Title: The Sense of Sight
  • Creator: Annie Louisa Swynnerton [née Robinson]
  • Date Created: 1895
  • tag / style: Annie Louisa Swynnerton; angel; sense; sight; wings
  • Physical Dimensions: w1010 x h873 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: Swynnerton was born near Manchester. She was a strong believer in equal opportunities for women in art and founded the Manchester Society of Women Painters with the artist Susan Isabel Dacre. In 1895 she was the second, and last, woman to sit on the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition Hanging Committee. In 1922 at the age of 78 she was the first woman to be elected as an Associate Member of the Royal Academy since its foundation in 1768.
  • Additional artwork information: To learn more about this painting, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/19c/swynnerton.aspx This painting featured in an exhibition, ‘The Rise of Women Artists’, held at the Walker Art Gallery in 2010. To find out more please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/exhibitions/womenartists/
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Presented by Charles J Procter in 1896

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