The Seamstress (A Song of the Shirt)
Anna Elizabeth Blunden (Mrs. Martino), 1830-1915
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated 1854
Society of British Artists, Suffolk Street. 1854, No. 133.
Several Victorian painters took up the defence of the overworked and exploited seamstress, in particular Richard Redgrave. This picture, like Redgrave's, is inspired by Hood's poem "The Song of The Shirt," first published in Punch in 1843. Miss Blunden developed a crush on Ruskin, and pestered him with letters asking for help and advice (published by Virginia Surtees in Sublime and Instructive, 1972. — Christopher Wood, Blessed Damozel