Exhibition: Ladies of Quality & Distinction, The Foundling Museum, London

Isabella, Duchess of Manchester, by Andrea Soldi, 1738. Courtesy of Whitfield Fine Art

Isabella, Duchess of Manchester, by Andrea Soldi, 1738. Courtesy of Whitfield Fine Art

21 September 2018 until 20 January 2019

The Foundling Museum presents a landmark exhibition highlighting the hidden stories of women in the Foundling Hospital’s history.

Marking 100 years of female suffrage, Ladies of Quality & Distinction resets the focus of the Foundling Hospital’s story, revealing portraits and stories of the remarkable women who supported both the establishment and the running of London’s Foundling Hospital. Despite its male face, women permeate every aspect of the Hospital story; as mothers, supporters, wet nurses, staff, inspectors, apprentice masters, artists, musicians, craftsmen and foundlings. Yet for almost 300 years, history has placed these women as a footnote to the story.

This exhibition brings these overlooked stories to the fore. Discover portraits of the ‘ladies of quality and distinction’ who in 1735 signed Thomas Coram’s original petition to the King calling for the establishment of a Foundling Hospital. Displayed together for the first time, these paintings will temporarily replace the portraits of male governors currently hanging in the Picture Gallery.

Downstairs in the exhibition gallery, the lives of the women who supported the day-to-day running of the institution will be brought to life. Highlights include Mrs Prudence West, a female inspector and the only woman to run a branch Hospital; Miss Eleanor Barnes, one of the earliest female Governors; and Mrs Elizabeth Leicester, an early matron of the Foundling Hospital who oversaw some of its most challenging years.

See further details of the exhibition online here >>

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