Department or Program


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Martha McNamara


Painter, book designer, and stained glass artist, Sarah Wyman Whitman (1842-1904) has largely been ignored in art historical scholarship despite her “Renaissance Woman” approach to artistic production, her devotion to the democratization of design, and prominence in Boston’s nineteenth-century social circles. Whitman acted as a pioneer by carving out a niche for women artists who chose to avoid the male-dominated, hierarchal sphere of nineteenth-century fine arts. Instead, she turned to producing cloth-stamped book covers and works in stained glass and is credited as the first person to procure full-time employment as a book designer. My paper will use Sarah Wyman Whitman’s life and work to explore how her social networks of Boston artists, authors, and reformers shaped her work across media and illuminate a variety of issues facing women artists during this period in the context of the fine press revival in Boston, the gender politics of craft, and notions of feminine sensibility.