"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

This portrait of Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman (July 3, 1860-August 17, 1935) by Ellen Day Hale hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
During an age when social conventions limited the opportunities for women, author Charlotte Perkins Gilman was influential in exposing the problems that lay behind the sentimental facade of domesticity. She achieved an international reputation with the publication of Women and Economics (1898), a book that highlighted the importance of economics in shaping relationships between men and women. Her critique of patriarchal power was in part rooted in her own traumatic experiences as a child and a young wife. Most famously, her chilling short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" dramatized the repressive treatment she received during a period of depression following the birth of her first child. More typically, Gilman's writings focused on specific reforms for everyday living, from child-rearing to women's dress. This portrait sketch shows her as a young woman before her rise to prominence. -- NPG
The Library of Congress has these 1900 photos of Charlotte Perkins Gilman:

This image of Charlotte Gilman Perkins appeared  in the The Virginia Enterprise, published in St.Louis County Minnesota on July 28, 1905.

A most interesting woman is Charlotte Perkins Gilman, by no means not always understandable, but yet most attractive in her originality and her altruism. The rich conservatives may look upon her as a dangerous meddler, but many people go to her lectures and read her writings. -- The Virginia Enterprise, July 28, 1905.
In 1892 Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman publish her famous story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” This copy of Perkins’ story appeared in an NPG exhibit on Women’s Suffrage, it belongs to the University of Pennsylvania Kislak Center of Special Collections.

The Yellow Wallpaper
Shortly before her divorce, Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman published “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892), a short story about a woman recuperating from “Temporary nervous depression” and “a slight hysterical tendency.” Her protagonist’s confinement in an attic symbolized oppressive restrictions on women. -- NPG
This newspaper image accompanied Ms. Gilman's biting comments on the issue of Child Labor, in the Chicago Day Book.:

Child Labor

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

No fledgling feeds the father bird!
  No chicken feeds the hen!
No kitten mouses for the cat—
  This glory is for men:

We are the Wisest, Strongest Race—
  Loud may our praise be sung!
The only animal alive
  That lives upon its young!

And here's a 1911 postcard with a quote from Charlotte Perkins Gilman calling for “Votes for Mothers.”

The Grand Forks (N.D) Herald, December 19, 1916. carried this Harris and Ewing photo of  Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

“The economic dependence of woman on man has caused almost all of the misery in the world. The man has to make money to get love; the woman has to make love to get money.” -- Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

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