First woman MP’s portrait presented to Commons

This portrait of Constance Countess Markievicz, the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons in 1918, was last night presented to the House on behalf of the Irish parliament.

The painting, painted by Boleslaw von Szankowski in 1901, was given to Speaker John Bercow by his Irish counterpart, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, to mark the centenary of female suffrage.

The daughter of the Anglo-Irish baronet Sir Henry Gore-Booth, Constance Markievicz was an Irish nationalist who took part on the 1916 East Rising, and was in prison when she was elected. In her cell she received a letter from 10 Downing Street inviting her to attend the state opening of Parliament, addressed “Dear Sir…”. 

Howevershe never took her seat in Westminster, although she was an active member of the Irish Dáil, and was the first woman minister in Western Europe. Married to a Polish count shortly before this portrait was painted, she died in 1927 aged 59.

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