THE QUIET CIRCLE
W.R. Hamilton, Portrait of Catherine Masterton, 1834
29 ¼ x 24 ¾ inches. Oil on canvas.
In 1841 the influential educator Catharine Beecher (1800–1878) wrote that although American women of her time were confined to “the quiet circle” of domesticity, they had “a manly energy” and sometimes showed “the hearts and minds of men.” What was it like to be female in19th-century America?
Bartow-Pell’s 2017 fall exhibition explores the diverse lives of 19th-century women and girls, from household servants to society women. A fancy dress for a costume ball, a doll’s tea set, and an engraving of women working in a hoop-skirt factory are among the artwork, clothing, domestic items, books, ephemera, and decorative arts that tell the story of female lives in the past. These objects will be on view throughout the fall in the library exhibition space as well as in the period rooms.
A highlight is a superb portrait of a young member of the Masterton family of Bronxville (owners of the Tuckahoe marble quarry). This exquisite 1834 painting of Catherine Jane Masterton by the Scottish-born artist William Hamilton (1795–1879) belongs to a private collector of Americana and has rarely been on public view.
By 1900, although many women still stayed within the domestic sphere, some had entered the professions or were advocates for social reform. And one hundred years ago, in 1917, women got the right to vote in New York State, making this a fitting time to recognize the critical era leading up to that landmark in women’s history.
GASTON LACHAISE PEACOCKS
Peacock (Short-tailed), 1920; Peacock (Long-tailed), 1928
Bronze with gilding, cast in 2002 at the Modern Art Foundry, New York