MARIE LEON

(née Sophie Marie Malachowska, 1869-1956)

Countess Zofia Marie Malachowska was born in Poland in 1869, later adopting the professional name Marie Leon. Initially studying as a sculptor at the Royal College of Art, Marie had to support herself after the death of her parents and having some photographic skill, she set up a studio at 30 Regent Street in London. Between 1900 and 1904 Marie exhibited work at the Royal Photographic Society. 

In 1910, Leon was commissioned to photograph some of the women appearing in Cicely Hamilton's Pageant of Great Women. These were then published in the suffragette newspaper Vote and some of Eve Balfour (1898-1990) as 'Sapho', Cicely Hamilton (1872-1952) as 'Christian Davies', Edith Craig (1869-1947) as 'Rosa Bonheur' and Charlotte Despard (1844-1939) as 'St. Hilda' were sold as individual prints at the International Suffragette shop.

The National Portrait Gallery holds several portraits by Leon, including one of Bessie Belloc (1829-1925); an early campaigner for women's rights and mother of Hillaire Belloc (1870-1953). Later in life Leon had several changes of career, even working as a radiographer at the Elizabeth Garnett Anderson hospital and as an antiques dealer. She died in London in 1956.

Bibliography: 

Photogram, vol. 6, April 1902, pp. 121-122. 

Crawford, Elizabeth, Art and Suffrage: A Biographical Dictionary of Suffrage Artists, (2018), p. 39. 

Dundee Evening Telegraph, November 24th 1926, p. 5.

World Heavyweight Champion George Hackenschmidt (1877-1968). Rotary photographic postcard, 1900s

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World Heavyweight Champion George Hackenschmidt (1877-1968). Rotary photographic postcard, 1900s

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