Mrs Barbara Leigh Smith BODICHON
nee Miss Barbara Leigh Smith

Born at Whatlington, near Battle in Sussex, Bodichon's unconventional background and feminist ideas have largely shaped our current laws and beliefs related to gender and enfranchisement.    Though her permanent homes were in London and Hastings, she also kept a cottage at Zennor in Cornwall, which at her demise she left to her good friend, the garden artist Gertrude Jekyll.

All of her busy adult life she travelled widely and wrote prolifically on behalf of women and their property rights, career opportunities, higher education (she was co-founder of Girton College, Cambridge) and the Vote. Her circle of friends, politically and artistically, was influential, and included the famed flower painter Marianne North and many artists and writers of the Pre-Raphaelite circle, apart from MPs and political philosophers.   

On her marriage certificate to the physician and Frenchman Eugene Bodichon (1857), who lived in Algeria, she listed herself as 'Artist', demonstrating the seriousness with which she treated her art as 'work' rather than simply an accomplishment of wealthy young ladies.   She exhibited frequently, mainly in London. Her final illness struck while she was at Zennor, and she had to be transported by ambulance back to London.


Landscape and marine painter; writer and women's rights activist

works and access

Likenesses of the Artist: Portrait by Samuel Lawrence (crayon drawing, 1880)

Access to work: Museum of Hastings; Girton College, Cambridge


RA (4)

Gambart's French Gallery 1859, 1861



Dictionary of National Biography

Gaze (1997) Dictionary of Women Artists

Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p314l)

Hirsch (1998) Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, Feminist, Artist and Rebel;

Johnson & Greutzner (1975) Dictionary of British Artists

Graves British Artists 1880-1940

Orr Women in the Victorian Art World

Wood (1995) Victorian Painters

& large personal biography