Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Linwood, Mary

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LINWOOD, MARY (1755–1845), musical composer and artist in needlework, was born in 1755 at Birmingham, where she was still living in 1776. She afterwards removed to Leicester. She obtained a considerable reputation for her clever imitation of pictures in worsted embroidery, two or three of which were worked before she was twenty. In both 1776 and 1778 she exhibited a specimen of her needlework at the exhibitions of the Society of Artists, and a Mrs. Hannah Linwood, probably her mother, exhibited a piece of needlework in the former year. In 1798 she opened at the Hanover Square Rooms an exhibition of her work, which she afterwards removed to Leicester Square, to Edinburgh, Dublin, and the chief provincial towns. It contained one hundred copies of pictures by the old and modern masters, and a portrait of herself after Russell, taken in her nineteenth year. The Countess of Wilton, writing in 1841, speaks of the exhibition as still open in London, and in terms of great admiration. ‘Miss Linwood's exhibition,’ she writes, ‘used to be one of the lions of London, and deserves to be so now.’ She worked with stitches of different lengths on a fabric made specially for her, and she superintended the dyeing of her wools. ‘Salvator Mundi,’ after Carlo Dolci, was regarded as her masterpiece. Her last work, ‘The Judgment of Cain,’ occupied her ten years, and was finished in her seventy-fifth year. After this the failure of her sight prevented her from using her needle. A good example of her work, a portrait of Napoleon, is in the South Kensington Museum. Among her musical compositions were ‘David's First Victory,’ an oratorio, some songs, and other vocal music. She died at Leicester on 2 March 1845. She published ‘Leicestershire Tales,’ 4 vols. London, 1808, 12mo.

[Brown's Dict. of Musicians; Redgrave's Dict.; Descriptive Cat. of Tapestry and Embroidery at South Kensington Museum; Countess of Wilton's Art of Needlework; Cat. of Miss Linwood's Exhibition; Algernon Graves's Dict.]

C. M.