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Mary E. Woolley


Marie Danforth Page (American, 1869-1940), Mary E. Woolley, 1931
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea

Not On View
Page, Marie Danforth
American (1869-1940)
Mary E. Woolley, 1931
Oil on canvas
Frame: 47 1/2 in x 39 1/2 in; unframed: 40 1/2 x 32 1/4 in.
Gift of the Class of 1931
MH 1997.20

Marie Danforth Page’s earnest portrait of Woolley comes from a place of shared experience. Like Woolley, Page straddled societal expectations of women. She most often painted portraits of socially acceptable subjects like women and children. Yet through her bold technique, she illustrated each sitter’s individual character rather than ascribing homologous features of domesticity. When Page was commissioned to paint this portrait in 1931, Woolley had just been appointed to serve as the only female American delegate at the Geneva Conference, which called for international peace following World War I.

In this portrait, Woolley’s persevering spirit fills the canvas. Her broad body proudly holds up heavy robes, her fatigued eyes still glimmer, and bursts of indigo suggest her daring character. Her illuminated right hand subtly points downward, appearing relaxed yet purposeful. In Page’s portrait, we see a confident, accomplished woman who will continue to take a stand for women’s rights.

-Katia Kiefaber '17, Art Museum Advisory Board Fellow, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Nov. 2017)