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May Furniss (1872-1955) - Signed Early 20th Century Watercolour, The Induna

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A splendid and characterful tribal portrait in watercolour, by the listed British painter May Furniss (1872-1955). Entitled 'The Induna', this finely detailed work depicts a member of a Bantu tribe, wearing a fine leopard skin headdress. The artist has a delicate skill for portraiture, with subtle lighting and a real sense of immediacy in the subject. On wove laid to board. A poster is included with the watercolour, illustrating another similar portrait by Furniss, used as the cover for the British South Africa Annual 1936-1937. Signed.


In very good condition overall, for a picture of this age. Some light surface discolouration and minor foxing.


33.4 x 20.4cm (13.1" x 8")
Sheet: 36 x 24.3cm (14.2" x 9.6")

Collection Information

Sulis Fine Art is proud to present this very fine collection of watercolours by the listed artist Marian Elizabeth Furniss (1872-1955), known as May. The works come from the 2018 William Shackleton and May Furniss studio sale, by decent through the Furniss family and Constance-Anne Parker, a pupil of May. Many of the works date from her time in South Africa, depicting tribal figures from Lesotho, then known as Basutoland.

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Artist Biography

Marian Elizabeth Furniss (1872-1955) was a British painter, born in 1872 in Epsom, Surrey, the daughter of a Corn and Coal Merchant. She studied at the Slade School of Art where she met William Shackleton, and they were married in 1915. She was known as May Furniss, and enjoyed a wide circle of female artist friends including Laura Knight. During the 1920’s and 30’s she taught privately.

After the death of William Shackleton, May was faced with the task of dispersing his unsold works. She managed to interest a number of galleries in the North of England into accepting some of his larger canvases, but the strain involved caused her to have a nervous breakdown and she went to South Africa to restore her health. Whilst there she painted both landscape and figurative subjects.

She continued to paint into the 1950’s and returned to Epsom for the last few years of her life. She died in 1957 and was buried with William Shackleton in Malham. She exhibited at the Royal Academy and elsewhere from 1900, including the WAG, RI, LS, SWA and ROI.

More Information
Code pr112
Artist May Furniss (1872-1955)
Date Early 20th Century
Dimensions 33.4 x 20.4cm
Framed No
Medium Watercolour
Style Realism
Subject Portrait
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