Marianne Stokes

Suppress your groans: this women-only show is fascinating

In a Victorian art dealer’s shop a woman waits with her young son while the supercilious owner examines her work; behind her two top-hatted gents interrupt their inspection of a drawing of a dancer in a tutu to give her the once-over. The woman’s shabby umbrella, propped against the counter, awaits reopening in the rain outside. She knows what the dealer will say, and so do we. Every picture tells a story, and Emily Mary Osborn’s ‘Nameless and Friendless’ (1857) summarises the plot of Tate Britain’s latest exhibition, Now You See Us. Unlike her picture’s protagonist, Osborn was herself a successful artist in a field dominated by men – not