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Ladies of the House

Portrait Miniatures of Women from the Permanent Collection

December 7, 2011 - May 2012



Lady, n.
1. The female head of a household; a woman who has authority over servants, attendants, or slaves (now chiefly arch. or hist.).
2. A woman who rules over subjects, a queen; a woman to whom obedience or feudal homage is due.
3. A woman who is the object of (esp. chivalrous) love or chiefly hist. or poet.
--Oxford English Dictionary

From its beginnings to heyday to decline, the portrait miniature lent itself to representations of women. Although the standards of female fashions, appearances, and expectations changed over time, the miniature's small, intimate format and painstaking artistic techniques ensured that it remained a desirable way to capture the likenesses of the women who mattered in the lives and hearts of patrons. This exhibition celebrates a gallery of women, from Britain and America, from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, who may have been represented "in little," but whose appearances continue to loom large.

Select Images from the Exhibition

1918-108 1935-208 1910-23 1991-131


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