A stencil-cut print by British graffiti artist Stewy, this portrait depicts Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797). A pioneering activist for human rights who inspired Suffragettes of later generations, Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. Responding to Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man (1791), she argued for the equality between the sexes; and for women’s representation in Parliament. Her book captured the spirit of an age defined by the French Revolution and the rise of radicalism. Advocating girls’ education, in 1784 she established a school in Newington Green, London, renting a house at which debates were held with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and John and Abigail Adams (second US President and First Lady) invitees of Dr Richard Price, the local Minister of the Unitarian Church. Wollstonecraft’s literary legacy continued after her death: in 1818, her daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley), published her Gothic novel, Frankenstein.
Local to Newington Green, Stewy knew of Wollstonecraft’s connection to the area. Having previously made stencil and laser-cut images of historical and contemporary figures for sites in London, Manchester and Brighton, he researched the historical style of dress and hairstyle for this portrait. Two print editions were produced: 25 on white and 25 on red. He donated the red set to the Unitarian Church and the white to Mary on the Green, a local group fundraising towards the production of a Wollstonecraft statue. In 2015, Stewy produced a third edition printed on green, half of which he donated to the People’s History Museum, Manchester.
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