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Portrait of a Young Woman

1862 Edward Harrison May Born: Croydon, England 1824 Died: Paris, France 1887 oil on canvas mounted on fiberboard 24 x 16 3/4 in. (60.9 x 42.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Thomas W. Evans Collection 1983.101.7 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 4B

Luce Center Label

In this painting of an unknown young woman, Edward Harrison May used soft brushstrokes and muted colors to emphasize her dreamy expression. The girl’s tilted head, wide eyes, and slightly parted lips create an idealized image that is both classical and melancholy. Her dark hair and rich green dress emphasize the porcelain skin of her bare throat, reinforcing the nineteenth-century idea of women as fragile creatures.


Portrait female - unidentified - bust


paint - oil

fabric - canvas