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John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art 2018, Part 1: Women in White

Nancy Anderson, curator and head, department of American and British paintings, National Gallery of Art. When the National Gallery of Art opened in 1941, only ten American paintings were on view. Almost all were portraits. Of these, only one was of a woman—the regal Catherine Brass Yates by Gilbert Stuart. Elegantly dressed in white silk, Mrs. Yates represents the essence of elite society in America following the Revolution. Seventy-five years later, another portrait of a woman in white has joined the collection. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Nancy Anderson shares how Archibald John Motley Jr.’s moving portrait of his grandmother, Emily Sims Motley, a former slave, speaks to a very different American story. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.