Young Woman And Servant, A Discussion On Race And Historical Perceptions

In Art Collecting, Art Museums, Quarantine Activities

Join me on this video tour of Wadsworth Atheneum Museum (600 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103). I am using Budget Collector's Art Gallery Journal. It can be a fun activity while in quarantine. If you'd like to buy the journal, click here.

Stephen Slaughter's Young Woman and Servant

However, most of the tour discusses Stephen Slaughter's Young Woman and Servant. The Art Detectives at All Things Georgian had a fascinating blog on this. When looking at the painting, who do you think is the servant? I will give you a few seconds to guess.

Investigating the Painting

First, let's notice who is wearing an apron and who is not. The seated woman is very obviously the servant in this picture. Did you also see that the seated woman is wearing no jewels apart from very everyday earrings and a gem on her apron? Further evidence of her role is that she even is wearing a typical wide-brimmed day hat of that period.

Meanwhile, the woman of African descent is not wearing an apron. She is dressed in more finery. Please notice the detailed lace around the neckline and the arms of the dress. However, the seated woman appears to just have a plain white underdress rather than lace.

The standing woman also has a vast assortment of jewels. It is also unlikely that a servant would be allowed to place their hand on the naked skin of the other women.

The painting was titled Ladies Gathering Fruit in the Sotheby's catalog on November 19th, 1986. However, the Wadsworth Museum may have retitled the piece, "Young Woman with Servant." Despite the Art Detectives and my own assessment, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum's curator says, "The seated figure is clearly of privileged social status while her standing companion is a servant." 



If I get the chance to view the exhibit in person, I'd like to stay either at one of the following hotels:



A few restaurants that I would want to try:


Other Attractions