Mask or Mirror? A Play of Portraits - Family Values

Anonymous Artist, John Freake, late 17th century, Oil on canvas, Gift of Mr. And Mrs. Albert W. Rice, 1963.134. Anonymous Artist, Mrs. Elizabeth Freake and Baby Mary, late 17th century, Oil on canvas, Sarah C. Garver Fund, 1963.135.
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Act 1
Masculine Masquerade
Act 2
Who is She
Act 3
Family Values
Act 4
No Body

Family Values explores how portraits mirror the complexities of domestic relations across centuries and cultures. The museum's well-known 17th century American portraits of John, Elizabeth and Mary Freake set the stage for considering what historic images of mother and child by the workshop of Bronzino, Mary Cassatt, and John Singer Sargent reveal (or deny) about that relationship compared to recent self-portraits with their sons by Renee Cox and Shirin Neshat.

Shirin Neshat, My Beloved, 1995, black and white RC print and ink, Museum purchase, 2002.35. Follower of Bronzino, Antonia Montalvo's Wife, and One of His Sons, 1633-1650, oil on panel, Museum purchase, 1910.20.
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The dynamic between sitters is especially complex if they are sisters (Lewis Carroll), identical twins (Diane Arbus), or the daughters of the artist (Thomas Gainsborough). And what do pendant portraits of a 17th century Dutch husband and wife and John Ahearn's recent plaster cast of an interracial teenage couple in a tender kiss reveal about what artists choose (or are allowed) to tell us about coupling and intimacy?

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