Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman, 3 Jul 1860 - 17 Aug 1935
Oil on panel
Panel: 40.6 x 30.2 x 0.6cm (16 x 11 7/8 x 1/4")
Frame: 51.4 x 40.6 x 5.4cm (20 1/4 x 16 x 2 1/8")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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.
The sitter; her daughter Katherine Stetson Chamberlin; her estate; purchased by (Bowater Gallery, Los Angeles); purchased 1983 NPG