PREVIEW: Ladies of Quality & Distinction, The Foundling Museum

From the 21st September, The Foundling Museum will present an exhibition examining the portraits and stories of the remarkable women who supported the establishment and running of London’s Foundling Hospital. 

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

Marking 100 years  of female suffrage, Ladies of Quality & Distinction resets the focus of the Hospital’s story, celebrating the women involved with the hospital from mothers, supporters, wet nurses, staff, apprentice masters, artists, musicians, craftsmen and foundlings.

This new exhibition is set to include  court portraits by leading eighteenth-century painters William Hogarth, Thomas Hudson and Godfrey Kneller. The majority of the portraits are in private collections, having remained within the family or ancestral home. Some paintings have not been on public display for many years.

Meanwhile, downstairs in the museum’s exhibition gallery the lives of the women involved with the hospital and their jobs will be celebrated. It will include the stories of the likes of Mrs Prudence West, a female inspector and the only woman to run a branch Hospital; Miss Eleanor Barnes, one of the earliest female Governors of the Hospital; Mrs Elizabeth Leicester, an early matron of the Foundling Hospital who oversaw some of its most challenging years; and Jane Pett, a dry nurse highly acclaimed for her exceptional care.

Talking about the exhibition Caro Howell, Director of the Foundling Museum said: ‘Women of every social class permeate every aspect of the Foundling Hospital story. After centuries of omission, their revolutionary, catalytic and invaluable contributions can at last be celebrated. We are incredibly grateful to the 336 donors who supported our Art Happens campaign to make this important exhibition possible.’

Ladies of Quality & Distinction will be on display at The Foundling Museum from the 21st September until the 20th January 2019. For more information visit:


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