“Without Hands”: The Art of Sarah Biffin

Sarah Biffin is an artist with a remarkable story. She was born into a farming family in Somerset in 1784, where her baptism records state that she was ‘born without arms and legs’. Teaching herself to write and draw from a young age, Biffin rose to fame as an artist and established a professional career as a portrait painter. Throughout her long and successful career, she travelled extensively, took commissions from royalty, and recorded her own likeness through exquisitely detailed self-portraits. Her artworks – many proudly signed ‘Without Hands’ – are a testament to her talent and accomplishment.  

We have produced a film about Sarah Biffin to accompany the exhibition, starring Alison Lapper, also born with phocomelia: