Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Miranda Stuart

signature image

Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). The Dinner Party (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography

Miranda Stuart
b. 1795, London; d. 1865, London

Miranda Stuart, army medical officer and transvestite, dressed and presented herself as a man from the age of twelve. She earned a degree at the Edinburgh School of Medicine (1809–12) under the name James Barry, which became her professional nom-de-plume. She led a successful career as a surgeon for the British army from 1813 to 1865, serving in posts at Cape Town, Jamaica, Malta, Corfu, and finally as inspector-general of hospitals in Canada. She was invalided home to London in 1859. Stuart performed one of the first successful caesarean operations, in Cape Town in 1826; as a progressive reformer, she stressed the need for sanitary conditions and proper diet in the hospitals and army barracks. Her gender was not discovered until her death.

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