Throughout history, there have been “nasty women”–
women who broke the glass ceilings of their day. Discover them as you explore the Metropolitan Museum’s masterworks!
Edith Minturn Stokes
Sargent portrayed Edith Minturn Stokes in a "walking costume," with a boater hat balanced casually on her hip—and her husband in the shadows behind her. “No shrinking violet she,” he seems to tell us. Indeed, this is what Edith Stokes was like. She was only persuaded to get married with difficulty and was an active philanthropist—the President of the New York Kindergarten Association and founder of a sewing school for immigrant women. She also modeled for Daniel Chester French's 65 foot high statue of “The Republic” at the Chicago world’s fair of 1893.
After the Revolution, when the annual Salon was opened to artists who were not members of the Royal Academy, a wave of women artists began. Most have been forgotten now; indeed until recently most of their works (including this one) were attributed to better-known artists, such as David. This picture of Charlotte du Val d’Ognes by Marie-Denise Villers is particularly interesting, in that it is a view of a woman artist by a woman artist. Women are not passive objects here: the artist is a woman, and even the female object of the artistic gaze is an artist as well.
Julia Mamaea was one of the most powerful women in Roman history. When her son Alexander Severus was named Emperor in 222 AD, he was only 14, and she ruled as regent for him. Indeed, even as Emperor he seems to have remained under her control, which he demonstrated by naming her his Imperial consort. In fact, she was the first woman ever officially named Empress of Rome. When they were assassinated together in 228 AD, Julia Mamaea was subjected to damnatio memoriae. i.e. all references to her were erased, and this bust may have been smashed at that time.