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Exhibition Drawn to Purpose

Alice Barber Stephens (1858–1932). Selma Threw Herself at Full Length on the Ground, 1895. Published in Gertrude Blake Stanton's "Three Chapters" in The Cosmopolitan, April 1895. Watercolor. Gift of D. Owen Stephens, 1932. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (002.00.00)


In this captivating scene, Alice Barber Stephens portrays two aspiring female artists. Dreaming of love, one sets aside her brushes and pigments while her friend focuses steadily on painting. Stephens's fluid brushwork and interest in capturing effects of light and color reflect the influence of impressionism and painting outdoors. At this point in her life, she was a successful illustrator, as well as a wife, mother, and teacher.