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Mary Cabot Wheelwright

The daughter of wealthy and cultured Bostonians, Mary Cabot Wheelwright was four years old when she posed for this portrait by the progressive American Realist artist Frank Duveneck. Modeling his portraits on the dramatically lit paintings of the seventeenth-century Spanish master Diego Velàzquez (1599–1660), Duveneck placed the brightly spotlit little girl against a simple dark backdrop, employing only the small doll and the rose on the floor as additional accents. Very much a child here, Mary Cabot Wheelwright ultimately devoted herself to a passionate interest in Navajo culture. She visited the Southwest annually from 1926 to record traditional ceremonies and songs, organized numerous exhibitions of the American Indian art, and in 1937 founded the Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art (now the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


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