A life well-lived

Final years and legacy.

Photograph of Mary in old age, c. late 1950s. Private collection.

Photograph of Mary in old age, c. late 1950s. Private collection.

Throughout her long life Mary continued to paint. Even in her 91st year she was still working, submitting two watercolour views of Enderby and a portrait to the Leicester Society of Artists Annual Exhibition. Failing health and old age meant an eventual permanent move to her home in Enderby, joined by her friend and companion Kate Whitaker. They were cared for by Mrs Preston, a neighbour, who lived at Rose Cottage.

In 1960 the Leicestershire artist, Cecil Thornton produced a pastel portrait of Mary, subsequently donated to the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery by her nephew Patrick Sloane.  Kate died on 25 January 1958, aged 95 and Mary on 29 November 1961, aged 94.  At Mary’s request her name and dates were carved on the Sloane family gravestone in the churchyard of St John the Baptist, Enderby. 

Mary Sloane’s legacy rests in her extensive surviving body of work in oils, watercolours , prints and drawings. Her finest paintings demonstrate assured draughtsmanship and flowing brushwork. Her best etchings on copper fuse exacting observation with a faithful detail and represent a successful transition between Victorian tradition and an emerging 20th century poised for huge artistic and societal change.

All artworks are copyright (copyright symbol) of the estate of Mary Sloane. Reproduced by permission. ‘May Morris in the Tapestry Room, Kelmscott Manor’, reproduced by kind permission of the William Morris Gallery, London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Historical research by Leicester historian Shirley Aucott.

Further reading:

Women of Courage, Vision and Talent. Lives in Leicester 1780-1925. Shirley Aucott, 2008.

The Burning Question. The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage in Leicestershire. Jess Jenkins, 2016.