Mary Elizabeth Cutting Buckingham (1851–1896)
Mabel Stuart (1867–1939)
Wayland, Massachusetts, 1890–96
Oil on canvas
22 ½ x 18 ½ in.
Gift of Edwin Buckingham Sears
Portraits of women reading are a familiar device in the history of art, often used to suggest the figure’s erudition and independence. In this example, whether it was the sitter’s choice or the artist’s, the depiction of Mary Buckingham reading appropriately reflected her interests and education. Stuart may have gotten the commission for the painting through her partner, vaudeville actress Beatrice Herford. Herford and Buckingham both lived in Wayland, Massachusetts.